The pre-reno pictures

It's been raining for the past few days so it was difficult to get shots with decent lighting. But then again, it also helped me find out that I need to catch the light for the dining area because it can get a little dim.

The ex-owners were very kind to have cleaned up the house after they moved out. On with the pictures.

How resistant is your countertop to bacteria?

Are you concerned about bacterial contamination of your kitchen countertop? With my toddler son, I know I certainly am.

Today, it is understood that many food items that we purchase are highly contaminated with pathogenic micro-organisms, and it is necessary for the home cook to make these foods safe. Often, the first step in food preparation is cutting and manipulating the food to get it ready. It is essential that the countertop be cleaned after raw food has touched the surface. Otherwise, there can be cross-contamination, and the people eating the food prepared on the cross-contaminated surface can become ill.

Laminate countertops

If the term laminate countertop doesn't ring a bell, the name Formica probably will. Formica is the brand name of the oldest makers of laminate countertop materials.

Laminate Composition and Grades

High Pressure Laminates (HPL) are made by bonding melamine, paper and plastic resin layers through a high heat and high pressure process. This manufacturing process produces the dark brown line at the edge of the HPL. Sometimes you might see a brown line along the seams of the joints of the countertop.

There are specialty HPLs that do away with the brown edge, and have a solid color running throughout the sheet. But these have a smaller range of colors and finishes.

HPLs come in different thickness depending on their intended use. For kitchen countertops, there are 2 basic grades used. Standard, General-purpose or Horizontal grade (0.05") is suitable for countertops, tabletops, shelving and desktops. It is the most resilient grade of HPL and can withstand the most impact. For postforming—the process of forming the decorative HPL into simple shapes—a slightly thinner grade (0.04") of HPL is used. Vertical grade (0.028 - 0.03") is the thinnest and is typically used for low-impact vertical installations, like backsplashes, and cabinets, doors and drawer faces. It can be used for horizontal applications if the surface is not expected to withstand heavy use.

To make a laminate countertop, the HPL is glued to a core/substrate with contact cement. In Singapore, solid-ply is commonly used as the substrate of countertops although particleboard and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) can also be used.
Is there such a thing as non-solid ply? Hollow-core assemblies are more commonly seen in hollow-core doors and areas where a solid core is not needed. A piece of non-solid ply panel is probably made out of 2 thin sheets of plywood sandwiching a skeletal frame of either hardwood or plywood, with a paper honeycomb infill. Of course there is nothing to stop the carpenter having just the frame and omitting the honeycomb infill. I think for the moment, no one has pulled a fast one in using hollow-core for kitchen countertops, but there is no harm in giving it a tap or two just to be sure.