How to make a zinc island counter (part 2)

During our extended kitchen design phase, we considered zinc for the whole kitchen, but ultimately we decided on a lovely greenish velvet finish granite.

Steve checks the granite counters with a level
We were shocked and amazed that they were actually level!

The island had to be different because Import Tile didn’t have an island-sized slab of the granite (islands are typically 30+ inches deep, vs. kitchen counters, which are 24-25 inches deep). We considered a lot of options, but ultimately came back to zinc, which we decided to do ourselves, topped by a walnut slab bar. We spent weeks debating the right sequencing – should we screw the plywood counter down from the top and then wrap it in zinc? That would mean we’d never get it off. Should we construct the counter as a separate piece and then glue and screw it from below? That would also mean we’d never get it off. Eventually, we were forced to face the fact that no matter what we did, THIS WAS IT – a permanent decision and installation. If it didn’t work, or we didn’t like it, we’d be taking the entire island apart and starting from scratch. Last weekend was D-Day – or should I say Z-Day. And we are very, very proud of ourselves!

Peeling off the protective coating of the zinc sheet
First, remove the protective coating...

Saturday morning we screwed the counter top to the island from below to secure it and flatten it. We began by taking the zinc sheet – 8 feet long and 39 inches wide – placing it on top of the plywood counter we’d built, removing the protective coating, and eyeballing it. Centered, we had 2 ¾ inches on each side and just needed to trim about a foot off one end and cut out the corners and  the hole for the sink. Tinsnips ho!

Steve cuts the zinc sheet
Tinsnips ho!


Steve's cuts at the corners...
were particularly nice!


We clamped it (using strips of wood so as not to scratch or dent the zinc too badly) and then spent several loud hours beating on the edges with a rubber mallet to achieve the first bend – the counter edge.

Beth uses a rubber mallet to pound down the edge of the counter
We beat on it for what seemed like hours...

If you have this done in a shop (or if you’re lucky enough to have a shop) there’s a big tool  that will do this for you and create a perfectly square edge. If you’re doing it by hand you won’t get as square an edge but we did pretty well.

Beth spreads Liquid Nails on the countertop
Liquid Nails is not as liquid as it sounds!

For an adhesive, we’d been advised to use liquid nails. If we ever do this again we’ll try Sikaflex, which Rotometals mentioned in one of their videos – the liquid nails was very thick and difficult to spread, but we managed to cover with two tubes, using a notched trowel to spread it out. We then placed the zinc on top of the counter, centered it, put plywood on top of it,  piled everything we could find on top to weigh it down, said a prayer, and waited for Sunday.

Island with everything heavy we could find piled on it
Waiting for Sunday!


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