Countertop construction: Where to begin?

Hello-
I've recently finished assembling the kitchen and am now moving onto the countertop . Due to my employment status I fear this one will have to be made by me instead of bought assembled- about 1/3 the cost of someone else doing it.
The design is rather simple- 12 ft long and 24" wide wihth the exception of a base cabinet turned sideways at the end, so 2 sheets of MDF from HD would do it.
Although at this point I'm rather unsure as to how to proceed. My web searches have been rather fruitless- and the newsgroup shots as well.
I haven't decided yet if I would put a backsplash up or run the tile down the wall onto the top (1/4 backerboard overlap).
Can I trouble anyone to point me to a resource that might get me started?
Thanks in advance,
Jason Hirsch
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MDF is -NOT -a good choice, if any moisture gets in anywhere, it will swell, etc. Smooth-surface exterior-grade OSB, or exterior grade MDO are better choices.
Note: standard dimension for countertop is 25-1/2", to give some overhang when mounted on 24" deep cabinetry.

Run the tile to _below_ the countertop level, then butt the top against it. Be sure to calk the seam.
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Hello Robert,

Thanks for the warning! I"ll call 87 and a few other yards this afternoon and see what they have.

I actually have 2 reduced-depth cabinets (21"). I can't believe my luck (got them with the set) as they fit *perfectly* into the wetwall that I had to rebuild. It looks a little odd but it's unique and functional, so I'm quite happy.

Yikes! If I put a backsplash up (dowels) along the back, should I run the tile behind that? The tile I've chosen seems to come in at a whopping 9$ a sq- there was some marble I saw that was 12$ a sq... I can not believe the price for tile, but I've searched practically everywhere for cobalt blue 4" sq with black trim for grouting. Is this to prevent water from seeping in?
What should I use to seal the backsplash? Put it on the dowels with a thick bead of Clear Silicone Caulk to hold it in place?
Thanks so very much for your help,
Jason Hirsch
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As long as you know what you're doing, great!
In my recent kitchen job, I built all the base cabinets, and countertops an extra 6" deep. It fit the space, _and_ gave 'full depth' counters _after_ allowing for 'storage' (various counter-top appliances and/or canister sets) at the rear.

I was assuming no backsplash. It's preferable to run the tile down to a bit below (1" or so is plenty) the level of the counter, and then butt the top against the tile, as opposed to installing the top, and running the tile down to the counter.
Reason: if you have to re-do base cabinets, or the countertop itself, you don't have to *exactly* match the height of the prior construction. Whereas, if if the bottom of the tile sits on the counter, you've got a 'precision' re-fitting job, or it looks like sh*t.
BTW, -nothing- says that you have to have a tile-joint line _at_ the line of the countertop. There are those who are of the opinion that the top hitting at about mid-tile results in a preferable look.
For _my_ recent kitchen I was using _big_ tiles (13"x25") -- imported from Spain, white marble, with a touch of blue/grey veining, pattern. This covered the entire wall from the counter-top to the upper cabinets. Price was all of about $4.75/sq ft, from the tile distributer that imported it.

Mostly long-term maintenance, see above.

If you're doing a Formica/whatever backsplash, you've got a couple of choices. 1) Build it on the wall, _not_ self-supported, and 'flush' to the 'grout level' of the tile, and just butt the tile above it. 2) Build it on it's own support material, attached to the countertop, with the resultant 'top ledge' where it meets the tile. Again, in this case, for the reasons mentioned above, you want to run the tile to a point somewhat 'below' the top of the backsplash.
I personally prefer the 'look' of #1, when the surface levels are appropriately matched. "Matching" _does_ take some experimenting -- "rubber cement" (so you can easily remove them later, and re-use for the real wall) a row of tiles to a board, and another board with some scrap Formica on it (doesn't have to the new stuff, "any old piece" from H.D., or wherever will do just fine -- you are just gauging surface positions, not 'visual appeal'), and play with the offset. If the tile projects significantly past the Formica, it looks wrong, and, if you have an exposed Formica _edge_, you've got a host of other problems. When you figure out the right 'relative position' of the two _surfaces_, you're ready to go to work. *ALMOST* Gotta allow for the thickness of the 'mastic' that holds the tiles in place. If you can find some =cheap= tile _of_the_ _same_thickness_ as your 'good stuff', it's not a bad idea to actually put it down to the test board with mastic, "just like" you'd be doing with the real wall.

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The seam at the wall will nearly always give trouble, depending upon how sloppy the cooks are. It can leak, swell, and grow grunge. The postformed tops from the big stores are nearly as cheap as materials! It's the way to go unless you want to do a lot of work.
I made my tops from leftover framing wood 2X16 pine that I cut with a portable mill. They are fine and I don't have the seam problem because I have a drainboard sink, cast iron, that almost eliminates the seam problem. The only water we get on the counter is occasional small spills or when we wipe it down. I will eventually have a cove molding along the wall, with poly sealing it to the top.
BTW, the counter is finished with water based poly. It now needs a touch up, after about five years use.
Building that counter took some time. The big boards were jointed and double biscuited, then ripped and a 2X2 oak rub rail biscuited onto the front edge. I'd try to go postformed, unless you have a lot of time on your hands! I understand the job part, I'm pretty much retired now.
I saved a lot more money building the cabinetry, which is all oak left over from having my own flooring milled from boards I sawed with the hired mill. I've learned to make fairly decent drawers and raised palel doors. It's time consuming, but the look is good and I find it rewarding. Other than some tools, the cost is hardware and poly. My wood is well under $1/BF, counting the kiln drying and milling.
Wilson

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That sounds great but you ususlly don't know you have a problem until the MDF blows up. Once it gets wet it is garbage.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Jason Hirsch) wrote:

"Making Plastic Laminate Countertops" by Herrick Kimball (Taunton Press)
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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