The renovation II

From Day 1 we knew we hated the kitchen. The work surface was some kind of mottled brown and the huge American sink unit took up almost all of the worktop leaving little room for food preparation.

Removing/replacing the sink and worktop should be quite straight forward with some decent DIY skills but I was hampered by the LPG gas hob which was installed in such a way that the worktop ran underneath it. I’ll try most things but I ain’t touching gas. Get it wrong and people die ! No drama I thought, call an approved gas fitter and have the hob removed so I can work on the kitchen and then get it reinstalled when I’d finished. This turned into the most frustrating part of the whole reno. It turns out that gas fitters need additional certification to work on vehicles and could I find such a person that was willing to help ? Could I heck. People blew me out on the phone or came and looked and never came back. This part of the project stalled until we gave up trying to remove the hob and decided to lay an 0.8mm laminate on top of the original worktop. After finding the right product online I removed the old sink and taps and then pieced together a jigsaw of MDF to create the smaller hole in which to sit the new circular metal sink we’d purchased from IKEA.

The original taps were really good so I decided to keep these and install them directly into the work surface. Before laying the laminate, I laid a very thin hardboard to give me a perfectly flat surface on which to put the laminate (which seemed quite brittle). Both layers were simply glued with PVA wood glue and lots of heavy objects to hold them down whilst it glued. The holes for the new sink and taps were cut in situ with my latest Xmas present, a Worx multi-tool ! Tape on the laminate stopped the blade from slipping but it was a nervous 10 minutes cutting the holes. Fixing bolts and lots of silicone sealer secured the sink and after modifying the original fixings I got the taps secured as well. The plumbing was a bit tricky as the taps were in a different place now and wouldn’t reach the pipes. Remember my earlier comment about US imperial and UK sizes? A hammer can bash a door handle 1mm but it won’t help connect a UK pipe extension to a US tap. I had to modify the extension pipes and make some ‘washers’ from a bit of rubber to get a decent seal. I hate botching things so I call it customising ! The sink waste pipes didn’t fit together either and I had to modify these as well. It still doesn’t fit tightly but gravity prevails as the slightly smaller pipe empties into the larger one ! This just left the worktop edging strip which had been removed. It had a protracting ridge which pushed into the old worktop but with the new hardboard and 0.8mm laminate the new worktop sat above the edging strip and looked horrible. The new multitool helped me cut off this ridge and I simply Gorilla glued the edging strip back on a bit higher than before – job done. Because I made it I can see the imperfections but to a casual observer I think it’s pretty good !

Update: 3 weeks into the trip and the US tap fittings have started dripping where they are connected to the UK extension pipes. I’ve crafted a new ‘washer’ and tightened the fixings as much as I dare without breaking them but with the water pump turned on causing pressure, there’s a small drip so a plastic box is currently positioned strategically under the sink to catch water. I need to find a proper solution to create US/UK pipe harmony and that ‘special relationship’ we apparently have with each other !

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