• Amanda

One Man's Trash: Sustainable Quartz Countertops

When I started my kitchen renovation, I knew the butter-yellow tile had to go. As charming as it was to have original tile in the kitchen, it was in really terrible shape. It was chipped and cracked in so many places and had years of build up in the grout lines - not an ideal or particularly appetizing cooking surface.


When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to replace it with, I knew I needed something durable. My fiancé and I cook a lot. And when we cook, we really... uh... go for it? Let's just say, there are lots of spills, splatters, and splashes. So with that in mind, I was drawn quickly to quartz. Quartz is super durable. It isn't porous, so I knew it wouldn't stain easily. And it's manmade, so there are so many colors and patterns to choose from.


I really try my best to be a conscious consumer, minimizing my impact wherever I can. Having worked in the home improvement industry, I've seen the amount of waste that can result from a renovation. Hence, reusing my existing cabinetry and staying away from any major gut jobs. So the idea of ordering a totally new slab of countertop was really giving me heartburn. Enter CountertopSmart. (No I'm not being paid for this, I just truly love them).


CountertopSmart is an online marketplace, serving Austin and San Antonio, where fabricators can sell countertop remnants leftover from other jobs. So you're literally putting someone's trash to use, and those leftovers don't end up in a landfill! For someone with such a small kitchen, who knew she was going to have to use multiple slabs anyways, this seemed like the perfect solution. But because my kitchen is sort of a wonky shape, I wasn't sure what size slab I should be searching for. This is where this company truly went above and beyond.


Their owner, Zach House, followed up to my question almost immediately and sketched out all the different ways we could potentially install this job. He mapped out for me all the different sizes I would need to search for in each scenario. I was IMPRESSED to say the least! Then he helped me identify two different slabs of Silestone Eternal Statuario from the same vendor that would work for the job.


From there, I visited the fabricator to inspect the remnants and then was able to purchase them directly from CountertopSmart, where I had them on hold. I worked directly with the fabricator to schedule demo and install.


Demo

I decided to have the fabricator demo the countertop only and opted to demo the backsplash myself, in order to save some money. The demo was tough but straight-forward. Back in the mid-20th-century, tiling, as with most house-related things, was quite a bit more robust and sturdier. Instead of simply tile on top of mortar on top of drywall, tile was installed on top of cement on top of a thick wire mesh on top of drywall. As I started to pull out the tile, I quickly realized the drywall behind it would not be usable and it was better to just tear it all out and re-drywall before the counters were installed.


So I got to hammering, cutting, whacking, twisting, and whatever else possible to tear out the original tile and drywall and brought the backsplash down to the studs.



The next day, I had a team come out and demo the countertop. They got the whole thing out in less than an hour! Color me impressed.


Drywall

Next, I hired a team to replace the drywall for the backsplash. There are a handful of projects I just don't mess with doing myself, and drywall is one of them. I'm so glad I decided to hire it out. They were in and out in under two hours and from there, we were ready for countertop install!


Countertop Install

There isn't much to share about this step, as I had nothing to do with it! I worked with New Stone Concepts, which was the vendor/fabricator I found through CountertopSmart. They sent their install team out and they cut the sink hole on site, installed everything, and had cleaned up and left by the afternoon.


And without further ado, a little before and after. Next up: Choosing a tile for the backsplash. So these afters are just going to get even sweeter in the coming months.


BEFORE:

AFTER:


BEFORE:

AFTER:


BEFORE:

AFTER:


BEFORE:

AFTER:


BEFORE:

AFTER:



And now for a few other detail shots!





And for my favorite transformation photo so far, this little kitchen has evolved a lot since I moved in. It can really feel like I'm not making any progress when each of these projects takes far longer than I ever planned. But comparisons like this make me really proud of all my hard work.


BEFORE (2017):

AFTER (2020):


And if you're curious, here is the breakdown of cost (including tax and shipping) with links!

  • Countertop Materials (Silestone Eternal Statuario): $700.84

  • Fabrication, Demo, + Install: $1,544

  • Drywall Work: $200

  • Sink (white): $341.52

  • Drain: $94.56

  • Faucet (Brushed Gold): $142.67

TOTAL: $3,023.59

(That's $577 under budget!)

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© 2020 | A Second Coat | Austin, TX

Artwork by Rhianna Marie Chan