Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kitchen Countertop Project - Part 2 "Demo Time!"

Have I ever mentioned how much we like slammin' a huge sledgehammer around? And by "around" I mean, directly into components of our house? Oh yes, we love our sledgehammer. And our crowbar. Those two things go together like carrots and peas and they make demo-ing anything that's not up-to-scratch quite fun indeed.

See Tom's huge smile as we ripped out our kitchen soffits?

On a Friday night at midnight, no less? Please tell me we're not the only ones who have Date Nights like these.

Ah-hem. Back onto the topic of kitchen countertop demolition.

Let me do a quick refresh of what our kitchen currently looked like prior to our fun smashin' bash on it:

Before we actually began the fun stuff - aka, the smashin' demo, we did a little prep work. We took everything off the countertops, out of the floor/bottom cabinets, took out all the kitchen drawers (we only had 4 of them, so that was pretty easy!), and invested in some serious paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils. We also invested in easy things to eat during construction, that only require minimal use of countertops - microwaveable oatmeal, frozen dinners, sandwiches, etc. We set up a folding table to temporarily house all of our kitchen stuff we would need access to during the construction, and then we were ready to, smash!

First we moved the oven out of the kitchen and moved the fridge out away from the adjacent countertop.

Next we disconnected the plumbing for the sink (this was actually quite a pretty funny adventure, which we will share later with all the other little bumps in the road we encountered). First, we turned off the water valve. Then we turned the faucet on to make sure the water was actually off. Then we found the big pipe under the sink (that leads up to the basin) and disconnected it with a wrench (well, actually, for us it was already disconnected... as I said, we will dish on that adventure later!).

Next, we attempted to unfasten the sink by loosening the bolts on the underside of it. Hint: the keyword there was attempted. The bolts on the underside of the sink were completed rusted through. We really weren't surprised at all. This was not the first, nor will it be the last, surprise we have found while remodeling our humble abode. The biggest surprise we've actually found was a hidden shower in the guest bathroom. Um, yeah.

Back to the rusty sink removal problem. This required some thinking. The sink was cast iron, so it weighed a ton, and was completely and securely screwed into the countertop at about 10 different spots. Difficult removal? Oh yes, it was surely going to be. But we were not about to let this sink get us down before we had even started! Oh no, we were going to show that sink what we're made of!

So we grabbed the tools of our trade, our trusty sledgehammer and crowbar, and started tearing and banging, slicing and dicing (okay, so maybe not much slicing!), ripping and shredding and giving that laminate around the sink everything we got. Then we realized, as the sink was wobbling and shaking, that if we ripped out the countertop around it, the 50 pound sink would fall directly onto the plumbing and pipes underneath. So we grabbed the first two things we thought of: a paint bucket and car jack, naturally. I mean, in any critical situation isn't that the first two things you reach for? (actually, our first idea was for me to hold up the sink so it wouldn't fall, but that sink was just too dang heavy for me - and it was too heavy for Tom, too! I swear, it would take a professional body builder to hold up that thing while we ripped out the countertop from around it!)

We turned the paint bucket upside down and grabbed the only car jack we could find, which was conveniently located inside of the spare tire in the trunk of my car. My '99 Buick is so fancy, even know-it-all car people get surprised (oh, the memories of a car mechanic argument). No, seriously, my Buick packs a v6 engine, sports a spoiler and runs on sports style wheels. Oh yeah, it's one bad Buick, baby. Since Buick was so nice as to include a car jack inside the spare tire, we turned the paint bucket upside down inside the cabinet, set the car jack on top of the bucket and raised it up to the sink so it was supporting the weight. Ahh, success.

Our celebration was short lived. Once we began ripping out the countertops and more of the sink's weight was put on the jack and plastic bucket, we started hearing creaking noises and noticed that white stress marks were appearing on the bucket. Uh oh. We immediately began a race against the clock, frantically ripping out the countertop with much more vigor, prying piece by piece out as we yelled encouragements to each other. I tell ya, the tension and suspense was so great during this part of the project that it could've been made into part of a movie. Or maybe it was just so suspenseful to us because we knew if the sink fell that the weight of it could bust one of the antique pipes below, releasing a great burst of water and flooding our newly-remodeled-with-our-own-sweat-and-blood-and-tears-kitchen. Oh yes, home improvement is always so exciting for us. Seriously.

Finally we had ripped away 3 sides of the countertop, so that the sink was only being held up by 1 side, and was still being (tentatively) supported by our jack-and-bucket contraption. This is where it gets really good. We knew that once the last side of the countertop was ripped away from the sink, the sink would fall off the jack-and-bucket. But - we were out of any other crazy contraption ideas. So I geared up and whipped out my guns (aka, my retired-athlete-arms), "assumed the position" (crouching down by the cabinet, holding the sink up with my arms), and closed my eyes and prayed that the sink wouldn't fall. Which it did, of course, as soon as Tom had ripped and hammered away that last piece of countertop. Lots of screaming and yelling ensued as we both lifted this 60 pound or so sink out of the cabinet hole it had fallen into. Luck was finally with us as none of the plumbing under there broke, all was still dry and intact. Whew!

After hauling the nasty old sink out to the garage and finishing ripping out the old laminate countertops, it was time to clean up the mess we had made (who knew sawdust could get in every single corner and crack in that kitchen?) and admire our hard work.

After a few hours of sweat and tension (not to mention heavy lifting with that sink!) we were officially rid of our old sink, faucet and golden wheat-colored laminate countertops. Next up, it was time to begin the next step: installing the plywood base. And boy, was that a whole 'nother adventure! Stay tuned for our play-by-play as this granite tile countertop installation project does down.

Next Phase: Kitchen Countertop Project - Part 3 "Base Operations"


  1. Wow. You two live on the do-it-yourself edge. Good to see you have survived thus far.

  2. Haha, yes, we have survived! I guess you could say we get our kicks out of our crazy home improvement adventures, because we never know what we'll run into while tackling a project. It sure keeps it exciting!


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