white cabinet: affordable metal top

Metal counter top, DIY alternative to stainless steel. Tips and tricks to give you fantastic results.

feeling lost about what’s going on?

catch up on the white cabinet posts:

I love buying junk!

salvaged cabinet continues

the top!

This was supposed to be a quick easy project (aren’t they all?). Just clean and repaint an old kitchen cabinet turning it into a potting bench…. but then, the “Epiphany”.  They always get me in trouble; Epiphanies and winter!

the perfect choice

It was the counter top material; I wanted something good, cool and appropriate. The 80’s vinyl floor tiles just weren’t evoking anything but out of date and totally boring. I’m going to use the cabinet indoors on the front porch. I need storage for gardening tools, drip system parts, floral craft stuff and much more. The top has to be easy to clean and tough.

I didn’t want contact paper or vinyl tile, not tough enough. A wood top would absorb chemicals. I can’t afford soapstone and Hubby has no time to weld me up a stainless top. So I started by wandering around the home improvement store while Hubby was occupied in the tool department. He spends lot of time looking at tools and fasteners, which leaves me with too much time to come up with laborious for hubby & me ideas fantastic ideas.

I needed something fast and easy….     metal but easy to cut…. 2ft by 4ft…..       nope not in the HVAC department, not in the sheet metal either too much $$$…….. flashing ! (yes, my brain was flashing) ….flashing,   roof flashing…   THIN, CHEAP, LONG…..       YEAH…   2FT WIDE & 10 FT LONG!   … GREAT, SOLD!


where the plan goes off the rails

Then, things got a little out of hand because Hubby insisted the idea needed something extra. You see we discovered, after removing the old floor-tile-top that, the plywood underneath was very gouged and bumpy. Flashing is very thin and bumps will show up. He insisted it would need an extra layer of (something) so the metal would be very smooth and I didn’t want to just replace the top. Eventually, we came up with a solution; thin plastic sheeting used in shower enclosures! It would require additional adhesive be applied and dry properly before attempting to install the metal sheeting. Yes, it would push things back another week but he insisted the results would prove him out! Hmmm, sometimes I think his “solutions” frequently, maybe too frequently, push back my projects weeks. This seems to get him out of the work I have planned for him that day.  He then ends up relaxing for the rest of the weekend before returning to work. So we bought what I wanted and what he wanted plus some extra strong adhesive.

the works starts

The next weekend we continued work on it. The plastic sheeting is really easy to work with. It is thin, flexible and tough. You might be able to use scissors but it’s easier to cut the stuff with a box cutter. After measuring the top dimensions and adding about 1/8 of an inch extra all around we used a T-square, for drywall, to score the lines and snapped it off. Then the challenges began.

The adhesive was very hard. We got it because it said “for metal, plastic and wood”. It was a tube of construction adhesive that fit in a standard caulking gun. It wasn’t cold or damaged but it barely came out of the tube, and it was Sunday morning before the town opens up, so Hubby just cut the tube open. He spread the adhesive with a fine tooth trowel. After getting it about lined up, he rolled it down with a rolling pin to leave as smooth a surface as possible.  It helped having two people especially with one taking photos.

Now, we did the same process for cutting the metal flashing. The metal has a great look- smooth and silvery due to the galvanized finish. However, it’s not quite as easy because you have to take care handling it or it bends and kinks.

You score the flashing several times, in the same groove, with a box cutter and your straight edge. Bend it back and forth… snap! This stuff is sharp so be careful! It turned out the adhesive under the plastic was drying faster than expected.


This time we used a tube of construction caulking we already had that said it would work on plastic, metal, etc. Hubby did clean the metal surface by wiping it down with deodorized lacquer thinner to remove any oils. We used the caulking gun and successfully applied the adhesive, metal and rolling pin technique. We were getting the hang of it.


The next weekend we put more flashing inside on the bottom of the cabinet and though it was more detailed in measuring and fitting, it went just as smoothly as the top.


tricking out the shelf

Inside the cabinet was a small shelf that I wanted to try something different on-stainless contact paper.  Is there is such a thing? I had earlier seen a pin, of course, and found some to try. Yep, it’s a silvery stuff with a plastic coating. Good for temporary stuff and easy to bend around things. Of course it’s not as tough as real stainless but we applied it to the lightly sanded and cleaned old wood shelf. It went on like a thin stiff plastic and might be helped by applying a thin adhesive. I liked how it had a retro field.


I had Hubby finish installing the back of the cabinet with some glue and his brad nail gun. We also reinstalled the hardware I had cleaned and painted.  Afterward, I was admiring it and thought “wow now all that’s left is the edging”. Unfortunately, it was not ready for that!

hubby makes it perfect

Hubby had cut the new layers on top with an “about” measurement. The edging couldn’t be installed because layers not only didn’t match the wood underneath, they didn’t match each other. He told me he did that because he couldn’t be sure of the wood underneath being square, so he cut everything long. “How did we get them to fit now?” you asked. The hubby used a router. When I was young, used a router to make custom signs but  I wasn’t unfamiliar with those bits but I couldn’t see how he was going to remove the new layers clean and smooth enough to remount the old aluminum edging to the plywood. He came back with another toy. He had a small trim router that was sporting a strange bit. This one had carbide cutting edges and a bearing mounted on the very bottom. He said it would require some extra safety precautions due to bits of flying metal and probably wouldn’t be sharp afterwards but should do the trick. It worked beautifully! It just followed the contour of the edge underneath and trimmed everything down to that level.


…then what happened?

Life…. I went on a trip …..  and other projects came up that needed finishing because “winter is coming”….  winter came and the front porch was freezing.  Of course the spring has come and gone.  The adhesive is holding up great! Now where has that edging gone to? Hopefully there will be one more post of beauty shots and a surprise…. And edging!

Don’t forget to pin or share the post and enjoy the week because hey, winter is coming!

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6 thoughts on “white cabinet: affordable metal top

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