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Unread 11-29-2006, 12:26 PM   #1
sawah3
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Selling - Kitchen Countertop Issue

Hi, I am selling my home and my realtor has recommended that I do something about my kitchen countertop. On one portion of it, the tile and grout are in excellent condition, but due to a remodel by my ex-husband, tiles were removed and never replaced. Those tiles have since disappeared and I can't seem to match this tile anywhere. There are approximately 6- 4x4 tiles missing and 1 backsplash tile. Another section of my counter is in bad shape. The grout is really nasty and some tiles have fallen off (again disappeared). I have virtually no money to sink into this project, so whatever is done has to be by me and I'll be honest, I'm have no experience with any kind of remodeling or tools, etc so this frankly scares me. Here are my questions and what I hope to receive help/advice on:

1) This tile is most likely from the 80's. It's almond with what looks like small brown flecks in it. Does anyone know of a place that would sell older tiles like that where I could maybe find the few tiles that I need? I live in WI.

2) Is there a way for me to cut tile without having to use some type of saw?

3) I've decided that if I can't find the same tile, then I will probably have to paint over the tiles to make them a uniform color. Can anyone recommend a decent and inexpensive spray paint for doing this?

4) I don't know where to begin when it comes to tiling, so any tips to make it easier would be great. I've heard that I should use the Clorox bleach pen to turn my grout back to white. Does this really work?

Thank you to everyone!
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Unread 11-29-2006, 12:31 PM   #2
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Why don't you just pay a professional to retile your countertop properly. If it improves the sellability of yr house (I'm sure it will vis-a-vis spraypainting and bleachpenning) then it will have been worth it. You can use inexpensive tiles. If done properly, it can look beautiful.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 12:38 PM   #3
sawah3
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Thank you for the reply, but if I had the money to hire a professional, I wouldn't be on this forum. Trust me when I say that attempting this on my own is the last thing I want to do, but I'm out of options. I lost all of my home equity in my divorce and have about $300 available for this project which is not enough to pay anyone to do a job like this in my area. I also have a lot of counterspace - it's just under 20 feet in length. I would appreciate any advice/guidance on how to complete this project on my own.

Thank you!
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Unread 11-29-2006, 01:36 PM   #4
Big AL
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Hi, I am not pro, but have some experience covering things up.

A picture would help, but here is a good way to replace tiles that are missing.

You have 4x4's as your "field" tile.
If the missing ones are in the middle of the countertop, you can plunk a 12x12 in the area (you may have to carefully remove a couple more tiles).
Then, when you show the house, you put an iron skillet on the 12x12 so it illustrates to prospective buyers that this is an area to put hot skillets....or like a bread board or cutting board too!

i am terrible at explaining, so do you get what I mean?

If the missing tiles are in another place other then the middle, you can pull tiles from anywhere and move a couple around.

the 12x12 tile would cost you $.78 at Home Depot (they have beige on sale all the time)

you'd need to mix a little thinset...that ain't expensive either.

If you have to remove a few tiles to move some around, you should go to the Liberry here and I am perty sure there's an article about this there.

The only thing that may become a problem is matching the grout color for the entire countertop.
You can grout the repaired areas with something close in color (again cheap)
and if it does not match, you can get grout recolorant at Lowe's for $17 a bottle.

As far as the missing backsplash tile, can you take one from behind the fridge or range hood somewhere else and put it in the hole?


Sorry about the Big "D"...been there, done that, still payin' for it maself!
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Unread 11-29-2006, 01:36 PM   #5
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Maybe you could use a solid color tile of the same size and a complementary color -- like brown or tan -- to replace the missing tiles. You might need to remove a couple more to make it look "planned" instead of just patched.

As for cutting, I think my local big box store will make tile cuts for a small fee. Do you need lots or just one or two tiles cut?

Try scrubbing your grout with a small brush (toothbrush or nail brush?) and a good cleaner. I'm thinking something like Softscrub, but something with bleach might be effective too. If that doesn't help you will have to get a grout removal tool (tile section of the big box store, "hand powered" and not very much $$) and scrape out as much as you can of the existing grout. Then re-grout the whole thing. This option will look better since all grout will be the same color. Don't be tempted to use pre-mixed grout or mortar -- they are not really good options.

Can you tell what kind of adhesive your tiles were put down with? Mastic is often kind of brown and not gritty at all. Thinset is probably gray or white with some texture. Any chance you could post a picture of your tile in case someone recognizes it and can help you find a source?
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Unread 11-29-2006, 01:49 PM   #6
tunafish
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how about ripping it out (costs nothing) and install a laminate formica counter. at least it would look new and neat. Of course I do not know, but I do not think you realter meant to spraypaint above missing tiles when he/she said to fix your counter.
Also think as a buyer for a second - even with your repairs - does you counter has any value for the byuer or it is "need to replace" item. If so, maybe lower your asking price to cover this - at least that won't be the cash you need right now.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 02:11 PM   #7
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I think Andy's on the right track here with new formica. It's the cheapest alternative out there. I can't believe I'm going to plug the big box stores, but it might be worth getting an estimate from either the orange or the blue box guys. Plus, they are always running "no interest or payments for a year" specials. You could get the work done, sell the house, and pay it off after closing if cash is that tight. Just a thought.

Can you post some pictures?
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Unread 11-29-2006, 02:47 PM   #8
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A new Formica countertop would still break her budget. I just priced them at HD and Lowes and came up with something like $20-$27 per linear foot plus about $50 for each cut. Then installation is another $10-$15 per linear foot. A 7 foot bar countertop with mitered ends and no holes is going to cost me around $250 or $470 installed. [Hmm... maybe I should look into tiling the bar top?]

If you leave big holes in the counter buyers are going to want money off right away or be totally uninterested in your house. If you spend hundreds of dollars to fix it "the right way" buyers might still want to replace the counter and you won't get your money out of the repair.

But, if you spend $50 or so to make the countertop "temporarily acceptable" to the buyer. They will likely want to change it eventually but since the counter seems usable as is, they aren't going to totally hate your place.

How is the rest of your house? Are there little blemishes like that all over?
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Unread 11-29-2006, 03:11 PM   #9
sawah3
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Thanks for all the replies!!

I will try to post some pictures tonight.

To answer some of the other questions:

My frst thought was to replace with a laminate countertop, however, the previous owners built the cabinets and did the counters themselves so they're custom to the kitchen. I had an estimate done and they told me that all the tiles and the underlayment would need to be removed but it looked like it would be difficult to remove. Also, the dimensions are not standard. The quote for the counter and installation was just under $1200; $800 if I did the removal myself.

My kitchen has a strange, segmented set-up. The "dining" section has a depth of 22" and is about 12' long. The "cooking" section has a depth of 25", makes a small "L and is overall about 8' long. The missing tiles are located on the end of the straight section and the bullnose above my dishwasher of the "L" section. That area is also where the grout is nastiest. The previous owners installed a clear cutting board onto the counter surrounded by tiles and the grout all around there is just gross. If I was going to remove tiles, I would definitely get rid of that cutting board too. The adhesive that was used appears to be yellow and I'm sure the grout was probably white at one time, but now it looks brown or beige in most areas.

I will post the pics tonight and hopefully that will generate some more ideas.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 03:18 PM   #10
sawah3
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Forgot to answer Brent (SpeedyOx) about the condition of the rest of my house: All the other rooms have already undergone a remodel so the kitchen was the last of it. We were going to gut it and expand it prior to our split. The cabinets, appliances, and sink are acceptable, but the flooring needs to be replaced. I'm not planning on having that done ($), but the flooring was already purchased for the pre-planned remodel.

I'm really trying to avoid giving a buyer too many opportunities to nickel and dime me since I barely have enough to pay the mortgage off and realtor fees if I get my asking price and with it being a buyer's market, I'm in the worst position possible. My realtor is the one who suggested that since I can't afford to replace it all, a cover-up of some sort may be the best fix so as not to give the impression that the kitchen was an unfinished project.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 03:30 PM   #11
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I'll think you'll definitely get some more "creative" answers after the photos are up. It may be possible to "borrow" some tiles from some areas that are not as noticeable and do something different in those areas. The people here are pretty creative if they have something to look at. It may be possible to come up with a plan of action that may be quick and simple enough that you could direct a local handyman to complete at a reasonable cost.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 04:00 PM   #12
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I completely agree with your Realtor.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 04:24 PM   #13
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HD (and maybe lowes) have preformed laminate tops. Depending on your layout, you may be able to find the right pieces within budget. Custom laminate tops would break the bank but the preformed pieces should be close to your price point. as long as you or a friend has a good saw, you may be able to trim the preformed tops to the appropriate length. Otherwise, go with what someone else said/implied- remove pieces in strategic places and replace with nice, contrasting pieces so it looks planned. good luck.
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Unread 11-29-2006, 07:07 PM   #14
sawah3
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Pictures

I tried to take the best shots I could with limiting the picture size. Let me know if others would be helpful.

Also forgot to mention that the same tile was used halfway up the entire wall behind my sink and on the connecting wall (huge backsplash), so removing all that and repairing the wall would be a huge project I think (attached picture).
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Unread 11-30-2006, 03:19 AM   #15
CPaulsen
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Those pics really helped. Go to some tile stores in your area....a lot of them might still have some of that tile left in stock.
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