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DIY Recycled Glass Countertops

Used glass bottles can be used to make your own DIY kitchen and bathroom countertops, the idea is use the same technique developed to make tile mosaics. You can blend colours to come up with a uniform tone, add patterns or even create pictures if you so desire. There are, however, some special precautions that don't apply to normal tiling that need to be taken when working with DIY recycled glass.

Gather and clean your bottles, you'll want to be very certain there is no drink residue in the bottles when you begin to break them down. Remove or retain the labels, depending on your preference. Place the clean bottles into a large clear plastic container. Wearing safety goggles, a dust mask, gloves (heavy duty work gloves work best) and a long-sleeved shirt with the sleeve tucked into the glove, proceed to smash the bottles with a hammer until the bulk of the pieces are broken down evenly into shard between the size of a quarter and a nickel.

Remove most of your pieces carefully with a gloved hand and store them in a container until you need them for the installation. Smash the remaining pieces into a powdery substance. If the glass powder turns white and does not retain its colour, you can skip this step. Store the powdered glass in a sealed container, taking special care not to spill it or inhale any glass particles.

Build a countertop frame, consisting of a plywood bottom panel and a raised, bevelled edge that rises roughly ¼ to ½ inch over the bottom panel, depending on your preference. Use finishing nails for any areas that will be visible when complete and wood screws for areas hidden from view. When using wood screws, first drill a pilot hole to prevent the wood from cracking, then drive the screw into place.

Mix the glass powder into tile adhesive to alter the colour as desired. Or you can use an entirely different colour to accent the main shards or simply buy pre-coloured adhesive. With a mud trowel spread out one or two square feet of tile adhesive, roughly at first and then smoothing it down with the flat edge of the trowel. With slower-drying adhesive you can spread it over a larger area. Once you've made a flat spread of adhesive, carefully insert glass shards, piece by piece, with a gloved hand, occasionally using a scrap wood block to press the mosaic flat. Be sure to place curved pieces arch facing up to encourage strength. Repeat the process until your countertop frames are filled with mosaic glasswork.

Spread a resin coating over the countertop with either a spatula or a mud trowel, depending on its consistency. Use a resin that is intended for sealing stone countertops and similar applications. Depending on your preference and the appearance of the countertop, you may need to do some sanding when the resin dries. After sanding, clean the area with a wet rag and then polish it with a buffing wheel on a rotary sander.

Tip

If you're looking for glass in a specific shade, go to a local bottle depot. You may be able to purchase some there for nominal fee. Depending on the consistency of the resin you use, you may want to apply a layer, let it dry and then apply another layer. Remember, your goal is to have a thick clear coating over the glass so that the resin becomes the actual countertop surface, with the glass providing decorative value only.

Warning

Wear goggles during your entire work procedure to prevent eye injury. Use a dust mask when breaking your bottles and be sure to break them in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors. Wear heavy duty cut resistant work gloves at all times when working with glass shards. Have a first aid kit nearby in case you pierce your glove. This project is best done with a partner nearby, in case of possible injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Long sleeved shirt or work jacket
  • Coloured glass bottles
  • Plywood
  • Hardwood trim
  • Wood screws
  • Finishing nails
  • Plastic containers
  • Hammer
  • Drill with wood drill bits
  • Tile adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Scrap wood block
  • Rotary sander/polisher with attachments
  • Resin coating
  • Spatula
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About the Author

Daniel R. Mueller is a Canadian who has been writing professionally since 2003. Mueller's writing draws on his extensive experience in the private security field. He also has a professional background in the information-technology industry as a support technician. Much of Mueller's writing has focused on the subjects of business and economics.