#9 New Rental Property – Which Countertop Should I Use?

I guess this is a big give-away of what we picked…

We’ve made some big progress in January including unboxing this butcher-block countertop. After careful consideration, I bought this 6 ft butcher block countertop from Lowes (shipped to our house). 

Here’s the deal:

Ultimately the purpose of rental property is going to be valued on it’s return on investment. So I started by listing out all types of countertops and their prices. 

The common countertop types are engineered quartz, granite, marble, butcher block (wood), laminate, stainless steel, concrete, tile. 

Consider the price for a 6ft long countertop for this project:

  • High: tile ($500 – with installation labor), granite ($625), quartz ($875),
  • Medium:  concrete ($562), marble ($500),
  • Low: laminate ($99), butcher block ($169), 

I would have to hire out for almost every single type of countertops except for butcher block. For stainless steel, surprisingly I found a slab of 6ft stainless steel for only $122 but I don’t think I can cut this and put a sink in it. Rather, it may have to be custom made. If you are installing a countertop that doesn’t require cutting, this might be a cheaper option.

I considered laminate but it’s hard for me to imagine it in the barn without it screaming ‘CHEAP!’ So ultimately we went with a butcher block. It seems to be the easiest and cheapest option for short-term rental properties.

If we are doing the main kitchen in our house, we would have outsourced this job and chose engineered quartz since they can virtually be any color you like and be maintenance-free. You never have to worry about spilling red wine on a white countertop again.  

Tali supervising the installation

Mr. Code Junkie clamped the countertop to the cabinets and screwed them in from the bottom up in the four corners of the countertop plus a few other spots in the middle. I’ll admit, it’s probably a pretty hacky way of securing the countertop and I’d definitely leave it to the professionals next time (if it’s something bigger). It would’ve been nice if we fully leveled the top of the cabinets with another set of shims/wood pieces before putting the countertop on, and wood glue all the places that come into contact with the cabinets.

Our local plumber who’s installing the sink cut the sinkhole for us (a 22″ x 25″ sink) as we do not have a circular saw to cut wood this thick.  He said it took quite a bit of struggle since he doesn’t usually do that. I then found a piece of bent jigsaw blade in the trash pile the next day. I guess he indeed had a hard time wrestling with the 3-inch solid wood countertop!

Here I am putting on a couple of layers of wipe-on mineral oil that I had laying around. Hopefully, there will be little to no prep-work at all on this countertop, so I am not concerned about the mineral oil being food-grade. But there is food-grade mineral oil for that purpose as well for people who use butcher block in their day-to-day kitchen. 

New Bathroom Vanity from Wayfair

Here’s the before/after bathroom install

Another update we have is this lovely Matsumoto 30″ bathroom vanity I found on Wayfair for $280. Since the barn bathroom doesn’t have a lot of natural light, I chose white and can add small colorful items later on. The blue and green colors of the vanity both look really sleek as well.

For some reason, Wayfair is now selling this 30″ vanity at $419.99 which is a LOT more expensive than when I purchased it. I’ve noticed this on Wayfair for a couple of items I bookmarked that the prices actually fluctuate quite a lot (a few hundred dollars). I kept a spreadsheet of all the items I intended to buy and their prices while waiting for the construction to be done which worked out well. I came upon a similar website with camelcamelcamel for Amazon; it is called zeporter for Wayfair to track prices of an item to make sure you buy at the cheapest time. You may want to track the prices for a month or two before pulling the trigger if it’s a big ticket item.

If you are not crunching for time, I would wait to see if they have “open-box” items on Wayfair which is usually $50 cheaper. See the example below.

Installing Floor and Door Trims

Before/After adding trim

My first attempt putting door trim on. I watched some youtube videos (here, here, and here) before starting on this endeavor. A couple of things I learned from watching these videos:

  1. Put door trim on before the floor trim.
  2. Leave about a 1/4 inch distance between the door jam and actual door trim.
  3. You can shave/chisel the drywall to make sure it’s flush with the door jam before nailing the trim.
  4. It’s easiest to do the trim AFTER flooring is done.

Getting the trim home was a bit of a journey. Since Home Depot sells trims in 12 feet lengths, there is no way it could fit in my tiny little Volkswagen hatchback even hanging out of the sunroof. I had to wait for a sunny day and my friend who has a truck to go and pick it up.

We started doing the trim around the entire room but haven’t finished yet. I borrowed my friend’s nailgun and this starts to come together quickly.

Pro tip: if you don’t have a luxurious friend who has a truck, Home Depot usually have 1-2 trucks they let you rent by the hour, and it’s about $25 for 2 hours. You can also get a truck from U-haul for about the same price. You will just have to go to U-haul to pick it up first then drive to Home Depot/Lowes.

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