Quartz countertop on island

Kitchen Island Counter Replacement

We replaced the existing wooden countertop of our kitchen island with quartz. This was a quick refresh to our existing kitchen in our 130 year old home.

Old House Kitchen before Island Counter replacement

In early 2020 we finished up our kitchen renovation in our old house. We had started out by buying a wooden kitchen island, refinished the floor, installed a brick veneer feature wall with open shelves, and put in a row of cabinets with a quartz countertop.

My preference is to see everything that I need, have lots of space to move around, but not to keep too much stuff. So open shelves are good for me! On the other hand, I like to collect old things – and I’m sentimental about soooo many things. What to keep is always a quandary to me – but it’s a nice problem to have, isn’t it?

Our kitchen with island
Our kitchen with island

It’s a good idea to live in a kitchen for a little bit to see how you’d use it – and we did. We ended up with a kitchen that had lots of space for us to work and move around without bumping into each other.

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Kitchen island
Kitchen island – and vintage sideboard

What we learned from listing our house for sale

We had listed our house for sale, during the real estate frenzy a year and a half or so – but then changed our mind about moving – to give two of our kids a chance to live in the area with us while they finished school! During that week or so of having people march through our house – we saw our house from other people’s point of view. We found out that two things could improve:

  1. Young buyers in our area – loved the new quartz counter. “There’s your money-maker” shouted the realtor! Really, we thought – it’s nice and tidy, but it’s not that exciting? – But more quartz is better.
  2. The buyers would have liked to see more pantry cupboards – even if it’s a separate piece of furniture that matches our cupboards. I loved my old sideboard – my mom had refinished it for me back in 1990 or so – but our buyers weren’t as sentimental as me!

We took all of that information and stewed on it for a bit – and our needs changed as well! I’ve been making pies like crazy, and my husband bakes the best sourdough bread, and homemade pasta is a regular occurance. A lot of kneading and rolling happens on that wooden island-top!

So we decided to add a little more quartz to our kitchen by replacing the island top with quartz to match our kitchen counter.

wooden countertop before
The island countertop was getting a little worn

Quartz Countertop

Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces – which means they are manufactured from stone or quartz particles and resin and pigment – to resemble stone – marble or granite. They are blended and formed into slabs. They are subjected to a large amount of pressure, and then cured and polished. Quartz counters can provide the look of stone surfaces – but with more durability. While stone is porous and needs sealing – quartz is not.

Pantry Project

Our pantry supplies had also grown to include twice as many jars and canisters – and we decided to upgrade that somehow (Stay tuned for a future post about replacing our dark sideboard with a thrifted bakers rack – to fulfill our pantry needs!)

Kitchen Contractor

We called our kitchen contractor to inquire about a new counter to match our existing quartz (in Cloudy Bay).

The cost to purchase the matching quartz was about $3000. It took a little while to get the quotation – it just seemed like the job was too small for these contractors to care about – and installation would be a few months out.

We just wanted to take a slab of wood off of the top of our island – and replace it with an equally sized piece of quartz. How hard could it be? We realized that the contractor likely had to make a new counter in the quartz requested – instead of just cutting us a piece of an existing slab. So we would be paying for a larger piece, and as the job was not that interesting to the contractors – we would have to wait for them to squeeze us in.

We had watched enough (FAR TOO MUCH) HGTV to know that there are countertop companies with big chunks of leftover quartz and marble in their yards. We decided to check to see if anyone nearby had a piece of our Cloudy Bay Quartz already available.

We googled, made one phone call – and a lady in the next town over – had a piece that could be cut to size – in stock. She said “I bet you want this installed by Christmas don’t you?” We were thinking it would take months – so we said OK, went out and inspected the stone and placed the order.

Drilling out the wood filler and screws
Drilling out the wood filler and screws

We removed the old countertop ourselves – we called the original builder and asked him where the screws were to remove the top. He let us know there were 16 – all wood-filed in place. We scooped out the wood filler with a drill – and unscrewed the top.

Removing the screws
Removing the screws

We also gave the cabinet underneath a new coat of melamine paint. We took one of the drawers of our cabinets to our paint store to match the paint colour exactly. Melamine paint is more durable on cabinets and won’t peel and scratch as much as latex.

Removing the old wooden countertop
Removing the old wooden countertop
Removing the old wooden countertop
Island with counter removed

We paid about $1500 Canadian (tax-in) for the new counter installed. This included having a young man come out to measure the island prior to cutting and installation – having the piece cut to size, delivered – and having two gentlemen level and silicone the piece in place.

Cloudy Bay Quartz
Cloudy Bay Quartz Counter

We could have saved about $500 by not having measuring and installation assistance – but we know that it is important to have a piece of quartz or stone properly supported and levelled – so that it is safe – and does not crack. This was well worth the effort.

New marble look quartz countertop
New marble look quartz countertop

Our quartz island top was delivered and installed within 2 weeks for about half the cost of going through our kitchen contractor. It brightens up the kitchen even more – and we are enjoying preparing food on it.

The quartz is easy to clean, easy to roll out dough on – and for some strange reason – our old eyes seem to find utensils on it – that we could never see on the old wooden counter – An unexpected bonus!

Updating a kitchen doesn’t mean you have to start all over again. Sometimes changing just one thing can make a big difference.

Stay tuned for a future pantry project post – another change of just one thing to our vintage kitchen.

Quartz countertop on island - ready to bake
Quartz countertop on island – ready to bake

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Please find below a few FAQs that I hope might be helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions about Quartz Island Counter Replacement:

Can you replace island countertops?

Yes. The cabinet underneath is just a box, afterall. Whether you can replace the top will depend upon how the counter was attached, the condition of the cabinet underneath, and whether the old top can be safely removed – leaving a sturdy cabinet underneath. The cabinet underneath must be level and strong enough to support the weight of the new countertop. While it is possible to do this work yourself, it is a good idea to get expert advice.

What type of material should be used for countertops?

Laminate, granite, marble, quartz, butcherblock, stainless steel, concrete, tile, and live edge wood are all possible countertop choices.

What are quartz countertops?

Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces – which means they are manufactured from stone or quartz particles and resin and pigment – to resemble stone – marble or granite. They are blended and formed into slabs. They are subjected to a large amount of pressure, and then cured and polished.

Why choose quartz counters?

Quartz counters can provide the look of stone surfaces – but with more durability. While stone is porous and needs regular sealing – quartz is not.

10 thoughts on “Kitchen Island Counter Replacement

  1. I love our butcher block island and have resanded it twice. I find the quartz too bright and modern for our traditional kitchen but it certainly does brighten your kitchen up.

    1. Hi Bernie – I like butcher block too. We enjoyed having an island with butcher block in our last house – it was great – we eventually darkened it with dark tung oil. The counter we replaced this time around was a stained and varathaned wood, which was nice but not butcher block. We are thinking of listing our home for sale in the next year or so and quartz sells in our neighbourhood to younger buyers! We are enjoying rolling out dough on it!

  2. I think I learned more about renovating a kitchen from reading your blog post than I did from countless episodes of HGTV home improvement shows. However we still have no idea where to start. Maybe we’ll wait another year.

    1. Thank you! Those shows always have people ripping out everything and moving out and replacing everything, while we are more one thing at a time people!

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