View Full Version : ReDo Counter Tops and Shower?

Mark Turner
04-19-2005, 01:50 PM

We're ready to Redo our galley counter tops and shower in our 1965 Owens Granada. My question is what do I use? For the galley countertop, I'd thought about Corian, but its too expensive. We're contemplating tile for both the counter top and shower bottom, but will the it crack at the grout seams due to the boat movement? Tile - yes or no? If no, what then do you recommend? Please impart your wisdom. You might not think this too important, but my wife does. Thank you.


04-19-2005, 02:02 PM
How about traditional linoleum? It's held up well as both coutertops and floor in a cabin in Montana since the early 50's for us.... Plus, it comes in many many colors now, and is environmentally friendly. www.environmentalhomecenter.com (http://www.environmentalhomecenter.com)

04-19-2005, 02:03 PM
"Trillium" is a low(er) cost substitute for Corian. Either 1/3 or 2/3 (can't ... quite ... recall) the cost yet quite similar.

Mark Turner
04-19-2005, 03:24 PM
Those are interesting alternatives. Does anyone know about the tile issue?

Bruce Hooke
04-19-2005, 03:36 PM
I'd guess that a large factor in how workable tile would be is the amount of area you are dealing with and how rigid a structure you can build to support the tile. One way to gain some flexibility would be to use epoxy grout. However, I've heard that while it is more flexible it is also much harder to use.

Formica is, of course, the easy solution...

Garrett Lowell
04-19-2005, 03:37 PM
I can't answer your tile question, just wanted to ask: why not a maple butcher-block style countertop?

Dale R. Hamilton
04-19-2005, 03:41 PM
Tile- yes I know about it. Its heavy, grout will most likely crack, dirt and mold grows within the grout lines, and it will be a hell of a job to put in because of all the angles you probably have. So for all these good reasons -forget tile. Use standard vinyl countertop- its cheap- can accomodate any angles- can change it easy when redecorating. First make pattern outta cardboard- carry it to the countertop guy- and he will make each piece- you bolt/glue together. If you reall want to get buy on the cheap- use 3/4 white melamine from HD. But thats a nice boat- go for the formika.

04-19-2005, 03:52 PM
I have first hand experience with tiles as a surface in kitchens (not boats) but I'd say, you don't want to go there (tm)

Chief reason for me is that the grout lines hold 'gunk' and it can be a real pain to clean it out. You cant really use a flexible compound in the galley either, given the nature of its use. If you used standard tile grout, forgetting about the movement issue, it would also be prime for mold trapping, especially in a boat.

I dont know what your budget is, but you might want to consider glued hardwood strips, covered over with a tough surface, like varathane.

Don Z.
04-19-2005, 04:04 PM
Originally posted by Garrett Lowell:
I can't answer your tile question, just wanted to ask: why not a maple butcher-block style countertop?What's worked really well for us in our kitchen (in the house... not a galley on a boat) is a teak countertop.

Hard, looks good, won't rot on a boat like maple... sanded smooth and finished with salad bowl oil.

Now, in the shower floor... I don't know. But I guess a teak grate might work!

04-19-2005, 04:13 PM
I earn a substantial income repairing and cleaning residental tile.
The first requirement is not less than 1 1/4 inches of plywood supported on 16 inch centers. Anything less and the tile breaks. Epoxy grouts will allow you to keep things clean but as stated they are beastly to use.
Residental counter tops are almost always made with particle board cores, they get wet and they swell.
Silestone is a good alternative more resistant than Corian. Both can be had in molded shapes.
I used wood for the countertop in Bietzpadlin and just oil it spring and fall. We always use a cutting board and have a brown serving tray for messy work.
For your shower I presume that you are referring to the walls. For the floor you can get molded shower bases. There are gelcoated fiberglass wall systems for residental showers I don'tknow if you could adapt one to the space in you boat.

Mark Turner
04-19-2005, 04:20 PM
Thank you for your replies. I guess I need to get over my early 1980's-based aversion to laminate. Regarding a wood-based counter-top, the Granada's original interior was white with mahogony accents (including white counter-tops). The boat's interior was redone by a previous owner with mahogony veneer that is still in pretty good shape, so I'm leaving it. Someday, I'd actually prefer to go back to a painted white or cream colored interior with mahogony accents. I guess what I'm saying is I think the varnished wood thing can be overdone? Anyone feel the same?


[ 04-19-2005, 05:24 PM: Message edited by: Mark Turner ]

04-19-2005, 04:26 PM
Before high pressure laminates, painted kitchen counter tops were the norm and a step-up was linoleum (vinyl now).

Peter Malcolm Jardine
04-19-2005, 07:53 PM
You can use marble for the counter tops, and grout with silicon if you like.Lots of colors to choose from..A 5/8" plywood top is good... I don't think you'll get cracking. Use a very high quality tile cement, they're more flexible, and will absorb some shifting. Make the silicon grout line very fine. If your boat twists enough to crack a tiny little counter like this, you have more problems than just the kitchen.

I use and install ceramic tile alot in apartments. I use it for counters and backsplash, floors and showers... with the new tile cements, the crackage problem is minimal. I typically use hard maple as a counter edge, but have used the tile too. Having a good quality substrate would be important on the boat though.

I know why you want to use it... because it looks elegant. Give it a whirl.

04-19-2005, 08:27 PM
I don't think it was mentioned yet but tile can add alot of weight also.

Cullen T.M. McGough
04-19-2005, 08:58 PM

the tiles are only going to "crack" and move about if they're not properly bedded down and fixed to something that is *also* properly fixed in place.

An astonishing number of people drop large money on imported tiles and then glue them down to wretched, unsealed 3/8 plywood that has been sitting in the shed for a few years. Tile is fine, but attach it to a nice, thick, well mounted, moisture stabilized surface.

I have worked on several (well-aged) boats that have fantastic tile installation.

As far as style goes, you lose -3 cool points for using "traditional linoleum" (traditional? the junk is barely 130 years old. I have caulking irons older than that.)

The only exception to this rule is refurbished PT boats pimped out in Kennedy-Monroe 50's glam.

For true swank, look at slate or marble. Stable, stylish, recyclable.

-Cullen T.M. McGough

04-19-2005, 08:59 PM
I always use the concrete wonderboard on top of 3/4 ply for jacuzzi decks and countertops.Heavy but it will be there forever. I am pretty tired of tile tho after setting those little squares for many years I dont care if i ever see it again. As far as the grout joints go,the silicone sealers help a little but if it is kept clean it usually will stay that way. A little bleach goes a long way if it isnt let mildew to epidemic amounts.If using formica I like using the color core so you dont have the pinstripe edges of the darker core of normal formica.Forget particle board anywhere there is moisture. I'd rather forget particle board period.It's junk.Only thing good about it is it's very flat and cheap.

04-20-2005, 10:45 AM
I'm lazy. I don't like stuff that I have to clean a lot, so I would go for a completely smooth surface any way I could get it for a counter top.

Hardwood strips, glued together on a glueboard, and planed/sanded/scraped to smoothness then finished with Varathane is a simple, and IMO better looking, surface than any of the options presented. Also damn easy to maintain.

You can get Varathane, btw, in satin finish and etc, so it needn't be shiny.

Alan D. Hyde
04-20-2005, 11:01 AM
If you'd like something good-looking and (as your comments about tile seem to indicate) you aren't worried about weight, why not use quartz???



Jay Greer
04-20-2005, 11:17 AM
Hmm, Herreshoff used synthetic tile in Tioga around the tiny tub. It was green with black grout lines and looked nausiating! I think I would use a rot resistant wood such as cypress T&G, painted with LP. Then there is the question of the gunk getting in the seams. So formica comes to mind. I would also see what is available from shower suppliers.
Counter tops? Herreshoff swore by Wyche Elm; the more you scrub it the whiter it gets! Pardy's have used teak in both of their boats. Lynn is constantly scrubbing the counter top with lemon juice and liquid dish soap. It looks great!