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July 2007
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Corner Tricks

I recently remodeled a kitchen stubwall in a condo for a client. They were looking to replace the formica counter with granite. This is one of those weird designer deals where the designer should be forced to sleep and eat on this useless design choice. This is the wall. As you can see it is about 42” high with a 7” deck.
What makes this particularly annoying is that the lip into the living area is about 2”, which means that you can’t get a stool underneath it, let alone using it as a breakfast/dinner/party surface. It’s not like they didn’t have room as the living area is about 20′ deep.

This is a shot of the before detail. Typical Formica top, with backsplashes. The finished wall between the top of the backsplash and the ‘counter’ is a magnet for moisture and dirt behind the sink. And yes it is another textured wall surface, being Heavy Orange Peel.

The plan is to rip out the countertop, cut the stub wall, re-plate to make it level for the granite counter.

Top’s Gone
The first order of biz is pulling the upper top off. Having done that, we see that they drywalled, beaded and finished the top of the stub wall. Unless they needed the practice, this was about a hundred bucks extra in construction cost.

Having unplugged the disposal, disconnected the plumbing, removed the top, and cut the drywall out on the kitchen side,(you want to see what is in the wall before you go nuts with a sawsall), snap a line and cut the drywall on the living side, and remove the old stub wall top plates, and see your surprises. In this case, we have the romex for the dishwasher and disposal, the grey wire on top, and the romex for the outlet on the living wall. The grey romex holes are right at the level of where the new top plate is going to go. So we will cut slots in the studs to push the romex below our plate line. As you can see our corner is going to present us will a couple of challenges, having an outside corner, and a small flat patch area.


In order to create a level area for the new counter, we need to cut the studs 1 1/2” below the tops of the base cabinets in the kitchen. This gives us enough room for the new top plate and provides extra backing to fasten the cabinets. One of the other surprises was the loopback vent for the kitchen sink, which came to within an 1/8” of the top of the new plate. Here I just notched the plate, as the entire area is getting a 5/8” plywood deck for the new granite counter.


Insulation and Sound Interlude
If you are contemplating a wall like this, whether it be a remodeling or a new project, let me suggest that you insulate it. Remember on the other side of this wall is the sink with a garbage disposal and a dishwasher. All of which are noisy, and face the walls with the rest of your appliances and cabinets. Living in an open plan has it’s perks, but noise travel is one of the disadvantages. You will thank me for this later.

Here is the corner with the living room drywall in and the corner patch dry fitted.

Since we have an outside corner, we install a small piece of cornerbead over our corner patch. We are using mesh tape for our seams. The bits of crap between the two colors of white are caulk from the counter and backsplash. We remove them with our trusty drywall knife.

Here is our corner with our first coat of speed set. A couple of light coats feathered out and we will be ready to texture.

I have bagged the cabinets for the rest of the mud and texture routines. Painters 1 mil. poly and my favorite blue tape. What you don’t see in this photo is the ‘L’ bead that I put on the top of the stub wall on the living room side.
Having finished the mud and sanding, I am using texture in a can. There are a couple of varieties on the market, this is the petroleum based kind. No I am not out to greenhouse the planet, but time and product suitability is a concern. Also don’t believe the coverage on the cans. It is nowhere that good. After the texture dries, you will need to smooth it down a bit as the existing walls already have a number of paint coats on it already, and you want it to blend and be invisible.

Here is the finished wall ready for the granite top.
None of this uses hard techniques, just take your time, and have fun.