After living with our Pragel counter top in Walnut from IKEA for a few months now (gasp has it really been that long?) we are happy to report that we absolutely hands down love them.
They are warm and rich feeling and capture that feeling of butcher block with 1000% less maintenance and worry. Cleaning them up is a snap with some plain Simple Green cleaner, wipe off the junk, swipe with cleaner and you are finished.
One thing that we found surprising when we got it out of the box is that there is texture in the surface. It actually has minor indentations to give it a bit more wood feel to it and I just love it. None of that cheesy wood paneling feel here. But in case that worries you, I make all my doughs on the countertop with plenty of flour and haven’t found it to be a problem getting the counter clean even with the bit of texture. If I get a ton of dough stuck to the counter and then forget about it so its a dry sticky mess, all I do is take a rag soaked in very hot water and leave it over the area for about 15 minutes. Wipes clean every time.
The seam is holding up very nicely as well with the wax that Doug put into it. I haven’t seen any chipping or falling out of the material and it has held up well to having things sat on top of it and being wiped up repeatedly.
We installed our version of a vapor barrier on the area above the dishwasher. We used a foil tape that we got at Home Depot, of course the name is escaping me and I can’t find it on their website. I went looking for flashing tape for duct work repairs, etc which I found. But this stuff was in the same area (roofing) and was actually for roofing use and was 100% waterproof. I think it was around $10 or so for a roll that was more than enough. It’s actually a repair tape and it has an extremely sticky adhesive on the back. It’s so sticky that it actually has blue paper backing in between the layers that you peel off as you go. I recommend cutting it first and then removing the backing, its not very forgiving to work with. I did a good 6 inches in from the front of the countertop with the tape and it has held up very well to the steam.
Our final thoughts on the installation process: With high quality tools and an experienced cabinet maker cutting the Pragel counter tops at a 45 degree mitered edge look amazing. It’s NOT a factory finish cut and never will look like that. Our recommendation is to proceed with caution for the DIY crowd.
There are a lot of variables in this project that a professional can assess with greater speed and accuracy than a newbie can. If you can swing the rate they charge or can trade/barter/beg/plead/ask nicely for their help we highly recommend that you do!
The straight edge with a clean caulk line to fill the gap the rolled front leaves is what IKEA suggests and we saw examples of it in the store that looked great. It would probably also be a great candidate for the same wax method that Doug did on ours.
This process was simple and straight forward to a professional. It took him less than an hour total broken into 3 visits, which easily could be a 1-2 visits if your jigsaw can make the back cut for your sink (ours hit the windowsill).
If you do decide to tackle it on your own be sure to buy a new high quality blade (the Freud D0740X Diablo 7-1/4 40 Tooth ATB Finishing Saw Blade was recommended) for your saw and build yourself some cheap saw guides.
Best plan of action? Make friends with a cabinet maker and pay him in plenty of fresh garden produce and compliments