It’s been several weeks in the making but the copper countertops have finally been installed at Banner Haven B&B and Cabin Rentals.  A few touchups still need to be completed, but the major work is done and the routers looks great. Greg and Amy have worked on the kitchen for almost 6 weeks, from laying heated coils on the subfloor to keep the tile warm on cold days to installing copper countertop from 30 gauge copper sheeting.  The process has been slow and some health issues (kidney stones) have slowed down the process but here is a look at what’s been done. After the cabinets were installed by High Country Cabinets in Banner Elk, Greg and Amy had their work cut out for them.  They had agreed to install the countertop themselves to save cost..  3/4″ plywood was the first order of business.  The plywood had to be cut and dry-fit in place so clean fit would be ensured and that was only step one, as the router base consisted of TWO layers of 3/4″ plywood.  This would give the copper a more solid look, when installed.  As this photo shows, there first layer is in place and there is a long way to go.  The backslash, drawers, doors, and more still had to be completed before the work would even be close.  The next step was to install the second layer of plywood and use a router to ensure the edges were even. The second layer of plywood provided an extremely solid base and surface to work on, when installing the copper, which was shipped in 36″ sheets.  The copper had to be cut to the approximate size – including the back, edge, and under lip of the countertop – before it could be applied to the surface.  Working with sheet copper, can be difficult, even with two people because of how soft the material is.  Solid copper it almost as soft as gold and bends very easily.  Improper handling would result in creases, cracks, and bends that would show up in the final work and there would be no way to repair them except to remove the sheeting and start over with new copper. This piece is cute and ready to be glued.  The application to the plywood required commercial grade contact cement.  The cement was liberally applied to both surfaces making sure the edges received a good coat so they would come up at a later time.  Contact cement must dry for 15 minutes to a couple of hours depending on temperature and application.  For this, 20-30 minutes drying time was enough.  The counter and copper would feel dry to the touch but when the surfaces touched, the bond was instant.  Of course this means there’s only one shot at making sure the alignment is right – the first time.  This step takes two people.  Greg and Amy carefully lifted the sheets into place being sure not to let them touch until the alignment was right.  Trying to pull the copper off would cause bends that would show up in the final work.  The copper has to be treated delicately to make sure the best look is achieved and no lasting imperfections are left in the countertop. AS soon as the copper is applied, Greg rolled the surface with a laminate roller designed to press every square inch of the material down to the plywood and bond the contact cement from both side.    The corners must also be rolled to get a good clean bend.  The same thing must be done to the bottom of the countertop (above the tops of the drawers).  Clamps are them applied until the glue has 24 hours to dry.

After the adhesive has dried, it’s time to cut the trim the copper.  Edge pieces, sink hole, corners and other places have to be cut and trimmed.  A hammer is sometimes used to bend troublesome metal around corners that won’t show, like under the sink edges.
The “Hammered-Copper” look is done with a ball peen hammer.  The hammer must be clean of all burs so not to leave marks in the copper.  Hitting so much as grains of salt will dimple the copper.  The surface must continually be cleaned or wiped off while hammering.  The process is very slow and can’t simply consist of repeatedly hitting the countertop.  Each blow must be placed so not to cover up of damage other hammer spots.  You should strive for as little overlap as possible.
After the countertop had been glued down and the whole surface hammered (this process took several days), the backsplash could be installed.
Before the copper was in place the wall was covered with 1/8″ plywood.  This was to provide a smooth surface for whatever product would be used.  Greg and Amy thought about several products before landing on rolled cork.  The problem was that cork is close to copper in color and wouldn’t provide enough contract between the router and upper cabinets.  Therefore they decided to stain the cork black before installing.  The final look was stunning.
The black coke matches the black composite sink that was chosen and contrasts well with the copper and wood.
If you stay at Banner Haven, Greg and Amy will certainly take you on the grand tour which includes the kitchen.  They enjoying showing off their work and have already had several requests to install copper in other local kitchens.

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Banner Haven B&B and Cabin Rentals
Innkeepers – Greg and Amy Gardner
509 Beech Mountain Parkway
Banner Elk, NC 28604
Rates starting at $55 per night (including breakfast)