Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to Elevate Your Kitchen Countertop

An elevated countertop brings a countertop to a new level of majestic appeal. Today, I’m focusing on how to install an elevated design that is considered fine hardware and can enhance the finest of kitchens. Federal Brace cannot make any recommendations on specific applications, because every application is different. But they can give some general information on particular styles of countertops, which I will do in this blog.

The first thing to do before ordering the brackets is to see how many you will need. Federal Brace recommends that you use a bracket at least every 24 to 30 inches on an elevated counter application. You will need to make sure that the bracket you select works with your sub-counter arrangement.

Now that you have your support in hand you will want to set to mounting the bracket using the mounting plate at the base of the support. You can set the height of your elevated counter by moving the mounting position down from the bottom of the sub- countertop. The support’s gusset will extend out and over the sub-counter.

You want to mark where to place your starter holes with a pencil. Make sure that your locations for fastening the bracket to the substructure allow for enough material for the screws to “bite into." Take an electric drill and put an eighth inch drill bit to make the pilot holes for your fasteners. PLEASE NOTE: Make sure that you don't drill all the way through the material the screws will fasten into.

You’re going to change up your drill so you can put in your quarter inch lag screws (or bolts), that will connect through the fascia material and into the stud or substructure. Now that the first lag bolt is connecting the brace to the material and the stud you want to make sure it’s level before you add additional bolts.

Once all the lag bolts are in you can use a ratchet to make sure they are snug. Don’t over tighten them or you may strip out the wood. You want to make sure you use an extension when using the ratchet so you will not scratch the finished surface of the bracket.

With your brackets attached ready to support your elevated counter, you can place your counter on the support plates of the brackets. Make sure that the slab width does not extend over 4” on either side of the plates and that the stone slab is evenly distributed over the full length of the counter. You will want to use an adhesive or chalking to fix the counter to the brackets.

With an elevated counter you will have a real showpiece in your kitchen area that can be used for serving. The spacious appeal and beauty of the elevated granite slab will enhance the look of your kitchen or even office reception area. ~ SK

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to Wall Mount Brackets for A Floating Shelf with Backer Boards

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A quick fun installation of a floating granite shelf using some Brunswick Brackets and backer board. Federal Brace VP of sales, DJ Toal, and Allen Burge take you through the steps using brunswick brackets and backer boards.

This is an excellent illustration of a common granite countertop support application with the important areas to consider when doing a granite countertop extension with support brackets. The Federal Brace countertop support brackets used in this installation are the popular Brunswick Designer Countertop Supports with the curved gusset.

For further information on the brackets please contact Federal Brace at or #877-353-8899

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to choose a Bracket. There is no comparison: Box-Store Brackets V.S. Federal Brace

This one is for the customers that are thinking of buying the local hardware store or large box company support brackets, so I’m posting this on both blog sites at Federal Brace. Before you buy consider this comparison:

First of all, when you are picking between the two types of different brackets you’ll notice a considerable weight difference. The Federal Brace countertop support is made out of one-quarter inch steel, and the standard box bracket is made out of a material not even as half as thick. The Federal Brace countertop mount is a wider dimension than the local hardware corbel. The material size and dimensional difference between the Federal Brace and the box store bracket means that Federal Brace has a stronger bracket that will hold up your shelves and countertops better.

Federal Brace gives you a choice and a benefit in the brushed nickel finish that matches common stainless kitchen countertop appliances. They provide the stainless steel option, knowing that some customers are willing to pay for a certain type of look.

You will notice that the Federal Brace bracket has less dings in it than the store bought corbel, because of the care involved in the finish of the brackets. Also, the box store bracket may have the evidence of a long trip – being loaded and offloaded from cargo ships from foreign lands. Federal Brace brackets will come to your doorstep, individually packaged in boxes that are designed to secure your product during shipping. You can go pick out your box store bracket from a bin that looks like the old game “A Barrel of Monkeys.”

You dig a little deeper and you see that Federal Brace has carefully designed countertop brackets with no weld elements on the face of the bracket. The bracket is constructed with plug welding which gives a flawless finish on the face of the bracket. Not only are these super-strong brackets, but also they enhance the look of the countertop they are supporting.

Some may point out that the price comparison needs to be made. That’s fine with us. Our brackets are priced higher than the box store brackets – for the exact reasons listed above. As the old adage goes “you get what you pay for.” In this instance, you get a better looking, better made, stronger and safer support bracket for the investment you didn’t skimp on – your countertops. Go with Federal Brace countertop supports when your countertops matter. ~

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to install Freedom Countertop Supports

Many people will purchase Federal Brace countertop supports because they are looking to limit knee knocking under sitting areas. Today, we are going to review how to install a granite countertop to a knee wall such as a breakfast bar installation.

The Freedom Countertop bracket is a ninety-degree piece of steel without a gusset (the piece that connects the bottom and top of the L-bracket). It is a quarter inch thick up to 12 inches and goes up to .375 inch thick 14X14 – 16X16 and up to a 1/2 inch at 18X18 –20X20.

You want to make sure you have the right number of brackets - you want to have a bracketed support every 12 to 18 inches and no more than four inches of over-hang extending beyond the end of the bracket. Every application is different and we cannot be there to advise an application we cannot see, you want to consult an installer, but some general tips when speaking to the installer are…

In most instances, customers using the Freedom style countertop supports are attaching the brackets directly to the studs and covering with wall board material. You will want to attach the Freedom hidden countertop brackets with lag screw fasteners. You will go from flange to flange making sure the brackets are level. You can use a four-foot level to do this. You can put some paneling on the front of the knee wall to hide the down flange of the brackets. You will clean the brackets and put adhesive on the brackets. When you place the countertop you want to make sure they sit evenly and all the weight is being properly dispersed across the brackets. After an appropriate amount of time for them to dry you can slide over some chairs and you’ll be all set to go.

If you’ re looking to put the supports on top of sheet rock dry wall, you are going to need some kind of backing on the wall, like a backer board. When you position the brackets you want to make sure that the supports are carrying the load not the backer board. You would attach the backer board with several rows of nails going into the stud. A quarter inch lag bolt will then go into the backer board when attaching the brackets themselves.
However, if you want to attach the bracket on the studs on a wall that is finished you will need to recess them into the sheetrock and make sure you connect them directly to the stud using lag screws. Once the wall has been repaired, you can apply granite adhesive to the tops of the brackets – this also goes for when using the Bracket Backers™ as well.

You will clean the brackets and put adhesive on the brackets. Be careful not to let the glue drip off the side when you go to place the granite.

I hope these basics lead to a better understanding of the installation on this popular style of bracket. Thank you very much and have a great day. ~ SK

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to spot the differences between Steel and Stainless Steel

When looking to design your kitchen Federal Brace offers two different grades of steel: Cold Rolled Steel and Stainless Steel. I am going to examine the differences and similarities between Cold Rolled Steel & Stainless Steel.

Similarities first - on a molecular level, which I won’t delve into too deeply, the components that make up the two materials are similar but contained in different proportions. We will discuss the effects of the component makeup later. The two types of steel have the similar deflection characteristics under weight (they carry a very similar amount of weight). This is where the similarities end.

Stainless steel is about forty-percent more expensive than cold rolled steel. The additional costs are due to the special processes required to get the non-corrosive nature of the stainless material and the elegant brushed metal finish. Stainless steel comes in a bright- brushed #4 finish, and that is good when you’ re trying to match to kitchen appliances. The good news is that you don’ t have to paint stainless steel because it won’ t corrode. If you are having trouble telling the differences between steel and stainless, you can use a magnet, because stainless steel has little magnetic attraction.

The cold rolled steel is raw and will rust if not treated properly. For large orders, we can powder coat paint steel, which basically means that we apply an electric charge to the bracket, and then spray on powder paint that adheres to the surface of the metal (I will likely do a wet paint vs. powder coat paint comparison in the future – so check back often). When you purchase the steel you’re purchasing it because of the versatile look it can give you. “ The reason we provide steel is that designers want a color that goes with their d├ęcor,” says Sales Manager, Broc Seifert, “ Some of the designers like to give our brackets a clear coating to give it a post-industrial feel. I can see it going well with a concrete countertop where everything is contemporary.”

When you receive your cold rolled steel brackets, machine oil or other surface protection coatings may be applied to the bracket. The brackets are laser cut, and the machine oil is attracted to the metal when they are being made. One benefit of the machine oil is that it will preserve the bracket during shipping. Use hot soapy water to wash off the oil before you finish them for installation. You will need to take care that the brackets are completely dry. Any moisture that remains on the brackets, including in the welds, will cause rust spots. The final step is to put a finishing coat of primer, paint or acrylic on the now clean bracket as soon as possible after washing to prevent rust from forming.

Bottom line is whatever you are looking for you must be careful to treat your brackets properly. If you have stainless steel they require limited maintenance, but cost a little bit more. If you have purchased raw steel brackets you must paint them to prevent corrosion. Be careful not to scratch them during installation.

Thank you for your time. Thanks for joining me at the Federal Brace How To Blog. Have a great day! ~ SK

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to spot the differences between Lumber and Bracket Backers™

NOVEMBER 3, 2010 – CHARLOTTE, NC – Today I am comparing Federal Brace's Bracket Backer versus everyday soft lumber from a local hardware store or chain store. A Bracket Backer is not a new invention. People have been using backer boards since they started putting anything of significant weight on shelves. Here's the deal, when people are dealing with material such as sheet rock with an elevated bar application or a knee wall bar, the soft wall material cannot have a metal bracket attached to it, even if it is connecting to the stud. The problem is that the weight being carried by the bracket, which is the weight of the granite, can push into the sheetrock. This pushing down on the bottom flange can result in an impression in the sheetrock. The sheetrock can be crushed and destroyed.

To prevent flexing or crushing, Federal Brace understands the need to have some kind of barrier between the sheet rock and the weight pushing down. So we are introducing our Bracket Backer™. The President of Federal Brace, Scott Toal says, "It can be used in a lot of different situations, it doesn’t have to be used in a high-capacity setting. If someone wants to enhance the look of their bracket, the Bracket Backer™ offers a trimmed molding look around the bracket."

The main difference between the Bracket Backer™ and a standard piece of lumber is the appearance. The finished piece of lumber will have straight edges. You don’ t have to finish off the edges of the Bracket Backer™. You could go out and get molding, but it’ s not designed to hold the capacity of a granite countertop. As a finished unit the customer only has to cut down one end of the Bracket Backer™ to meet the height requirement of the installation application. The Backer is primed, ready to be painted and installed. You cut it down, paint it and you can put up your brackets.

The material used in Bracket Backers™ is mostly recycled material so it is environmentally green, and it is a medium density fiberboard which means it will be stronger than a soft piece of lumber. The Bracket Backers™ is not a suitable solution where a stained finish is required. With the Bracket Backers™ you will not find any kind of knots or imperfections. The surface should be straight leveled and ready to go since it is manufactured.

In the end both the standard lumber and the Bracket Backer™ have their positive sides, but the Bracket Backer™ is environmentally friendly, has the look you want in a countertop installation and is specifically designed for kitchen countertops.

That’s all for now! Have a good one! ~ SK


Friday, September 10, 2010

How to Not Settle For Less

This blog is copied directly from a customers email to Federal Brace. All comments and wording is directly from the customer. We have omitted the name for privacy purposes and the name of a large box store because we are nice. However, the content of the email is priceless and truly shows how as a consumer you do not have to settle for less...

" Here are some images of our new brackets. Please let me know if they are usable-if not I will give it another shot!

The first two images (943, 944) were taken right after we had our counter tops installed. I told the "designers" at the [LARGE BOX STORE] design desk what I was looking for - metal brackets that would hold up the granite counter top. I did not want the generic wood corbels that came with the install. They (not very kindly) told me to go look in the shelving section of the store. While the cheap brackets I found at [LARGE BOX STORE] were not exactly what I was looking for, I figured for the inexpensive price, I could live with them.

As soon as the granite installer mounted them he came to find me to show me how he had to brace up the counter top - the cheap brackets that I had purchased from the shelving section of [LARGE BOX STORE] would not hold up the granite.

I immediately got onto your website ( and ordered the brackets that are pictured in images 396 and 399. As you can see they look beautiful and have given me the unique look I was originally looking for. They were certainly more expensive than the cheap brackets from [LARGE BOX STORE], but I am confident that they will do the job they were designed to do, and they will look great while they do it."

We love this! Helping people create just the look they want with the support they need. Pictured above is the Angeln Countertop Support Bracket installed in the customer's beautiful home. Thank you some much for sharing. It has made our day.

To view the Angeln Countertop Bracket product page CLICK HERE

Friday, August 13, 2010

How to Prevent your Sheetrock from Being Crushed

In instances where a large counter extension or bar is being supported by countertop support brackets there can be heavy weights involved that will create great force down the flanges of the supporting brackets. The force created by the carrying of this heavy weight will cause the end of the down flange of the countertop support bracket to exert pressure on the supporting structure of the application. This supporting structure can be made up of all types of materials including solid wood, metal, plaster, cinder block or other composite building materials.

This blog entry will deal with solutions to compression on sheetrock material when it is the finished surface on a countertop support structure.

Regardless of the material used as the finishing surface on the support structure you will want to make sure that the supporting brackets are tied directly into a substantial (at least 3/4" thick)structure made of solid materials like wood. Fastening a countertop support bracket to material that will easily fail (such as thin chip board or thin fascia on the back of a cabinet) is sure to promote application failure. So when fastening your countertop brackets in place make sure that you hit the studs or use a thick plyboard to tie into for maximum stability.

When the finished surface of a support structure is composed of sheetrock (such as a stud half wall cover in sheetrock) the pressure exerted by the countertop and support bracket can cause compression of the sheetrock. The sheetrock will be imprinted or even get crushed by the pressure placed on it from the bracket down flange with the weight of the granite or solid surface material of the countertop.

The solution to resolve this compression is to use a material that will resist compression between the bracket flange and the sheetrock wall. This material would be in the form of a board or panel and it has to be of a density so that it will not compress under the weight of the countertop and bracket. Examples of this appropriate materials are wood, metal and densely packed composite materials such as fiber board (MDF and HDF). All of these have a higher density than the particles in sheetrock, which easily makes way for impression, crushing, and breakage under heavy weight. Dense materials will resist the compression and disperse the force of the weight along the length of the board thus protecting the sheetrock from impressions and crushing. These are commonly called backer boards.

Federal Brace has developed a new economical product that employs this idea of a force absorber called the Bracket Backer (tm). The use of Federal Brace's Bracket Backers (tm) will protect your sheetrock finish while enhancing the look of your support brackets and countertop. The Bracket Backer (tm) is made of high density fiber board and is specially designed in shape an appearance to match your support brackets with a variety of styles from which to choose. Just insert the backer between the sheetrock and the bracket or brace and stop any potential of crushing on your sheetrock.

In order to apply the Bracket Backer (TM) you will need to identify where the studs are behind your sheetrock. Then use a self drilling woodscrew or a drill and screw to fasten the Bracket Backer (TM) through the sheetrock and into the stud Make sure that the stud is securely gripping the screw. Then place the bracket or brace on top of the Bracket Backer (TM) and drill it through the backer, the sheetrock and into the stud, ensuring that it is also securely applied.

The Bracket Backer (tm) are excellent solutions in renovations or upfits when your sheetrock is already finished. However, do not use Bracket Backers or any other backing material as a sole support solution. Backers should not be consider a reenforcement of the support structure but rather a solution that prevent crushing on weaker materials.

Check out the Federal Brace Website for details on Bracket Backers and other countertop support products. Click Here for Federal Brace website.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How To Not Get Stuck Without Supports

Plan Ahead, Don’t Compromise

Charlotte, NC – July 6, 2010

One of the great influences for compromise in kitchen design and construction is lack of time. Countless homeowners have been forced to go with solutions that only barely meet their satisfaction because they either did not know what was required or procrastinated until it was too late to get the perfect solution to meet their design and functionality needs.

One area where this “no time – got to compromise” principle shows up is in the support of countertops. After investing thousands of dollars in their countertops most owners are never told that they need support for countertop overhangs. Well, they are likely told but not until the countertop fabricator shows up to run the templates or possibly when the installer shows up to put in the counters. This seriously limits the homeowner’s ability to select a desirable solution for supporting their countertops.

Countertop support brackets are more than just shelf brackets or standard decorative wood corbels. A countertop overhang is no small matter and true countertop brackets are designed to handle the load of the overhang. These types of brackets really constitute hardware in the kitchen and should be selected as such. You cannot pick up them up at the local hardware store or from large box stores because they are not carried. The countertop support brackets used to hold up stone counters are specifically designed for that purpose and are often made to order or when in stock require shipping to the customer’s construction site.

Cathy Morgan knows about the significance of delaying selection of countertop supports. The general manager of Federal Brace, a designer and producer of custom countertop support brackets says, “We hear daily from people looking for countertop supports having just learned that they need them for their countertop installation scheduled for the next day. Unfortunately, that leaves the customer limited to those supports that are stock and bearing overnight shipping costs in order to fill the need.” The additional costs associated with shipping overnight are one thing. But more unfortunate is the customer’s inability to take advantage of the full line of designer countertop supports available or the possibility of using the customization service provided by the company.

Bottom line - time is needed to select the right countertop support bracket. Homeowners are asked, months before they are needed, what type of knobs and handles they want on their cabinets. Why wait until the week before installation to ask what type of countertop support is desired? The answer is a bit simple. No one is sure whose job it is to specify the need for supports. The contractor will generally rely on the countertop fabricator. The fabricator may defer to the installer. Ultimately, they can all point to the problem with limited knowledge of the requirement standards.

Federal Brace is trying to eliminate this problem by educating the contractor and the customers. Their website boasts one of the most comprehensive resource areas on the topic of countertop support. Their customer service representatives are knowledgeable on solving the issue of timing as well. Cathy gives her pointers very concisely – “First, do not wait to hear that you need countertop supports. If you are planning a serving or seating area at your kitchen countertop you will likely need supports for the counters in that area. Be proactive and start your search early. 2. Do not compromise your desires because of timing. It is likely that whatever is put under your countertops will be there until they are removed. Make sure that it is a support that meets your needs visually and functionally.”

About Federal Brace
It all starts with helping people. Federal Brace designs and produces custom, designer countertop support products made specifically to solve the problem of countertop support. Federal Brace serves homeowners, interior designers, architects, builders (commercial and residential) as well as countertop installers and fabricators. Federal Brace supports the creation of U.S. based jobs by producing all its countertop support products right here in the USA.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How To Support My Overhang

Yesterday we talked about how to know when you need to support your countertop overhang. Today we are going to talk about how to support your countertop overhang and what type of support may be used.

There are many different ways that you can support your counter top overhang. Included in these ways are traditionally used methods as well as more contemporary methods. Below is a listing of a number of support terms and brief descriptions of what they represent:
  • Corbels- corbels are generally wood, some are metal and some are even made in plastic. Corbels are decorative in nature and are limited as supporting members. A Key hole is used for attaching the corbel to the support structure. This method allows for no fastener to be seen from the face of the corbel but it also weakens the connection between the support structure and the corbel. In most cases the keyhole set up provides less fastening strength than a through hole.
  • Brackets- brackets, also called braces or supports, are most commonly made out of metal but also may be made using wood. Brackets are true supporting members that provide a great degree of carrying capacity than corbels. Brackets use a through hole set up so that the full extent of their carrying capacity can be utilized. A metal bracket is stronger than a wood bracket of the same dimensions. However, wood brackets can be made thicker and bulkier in size to increase their strength. A thicker metal bracket is stronger than a thinner metal bracket.
  • Legs or Columns- these are terms used to describe supports that extend from floor level to the base of the countertop. When installed with the base secured to the floor these types of supports with carry the most weight. Due to the size of legs and columns they tend to be the most expensive type of supports.
  • Plywood Substructure - this describes the use of plywood board to "stiffen" and add additional support to a countertop overhang. However, it is important to understand that plywood board tends to be flexible overtime and may deteriorate over time in some environments. Plywood should not be relied upon as a supporting member for large countertop overhangs.
  • Metal plates- metal plate are sometimes used as support for countertop overhangs. When using plate to support a granite overhang remember that it will act just like a non gusseted bracket (for information on non gusseted brackets click here). Under point load situations or in large overhang applications metal plate will be susceptible to deflection or bending.

Whatever support system that you choose for your countertop overhang application remember the importance of tying your supporting members into a strong support structure (stud wall, reinforced cabinet backs, etc.) In some application, such as a standard cabinet back, you will not find sufficient fastening material into which to anchor your support system. Make sure to make the most of your countertop support by setting it on a strong substructure. Also, at Federal Brace we recommend that the counter top support extend within 4 inches of edge of your countertop overhang to prevent compromise from point load events. Use fasteners that are substantial enough to hold your supports to the anchoring members. You can either use an adhesive or fasteners to attach your countertop to the supporting brackets and structure.

First and foremost plan ahead. Do not wait to the last minute to determine the need for your supports. It is best to know what you need to early and make preparations before the installation day. If we can help you please let us know --

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How To Determine the Need for Countertop Overhang Support

A frequently asked question found on forums and other internet sites is, "Do I need to support my countertop overhang?"

Sources vary as to recommendations on what size countertop overhang requires supports and what constitutes sufficient bracing for a countertop overhang. While there appears to be few standards related to this topic the concensus established in the review of comments related to the topic show that a countertop overhang greater than 6 (or up to 10) inches needs to have additional support. It also appears to be common practice in the installation of stone
counters to allow a countertop overhang to be unsupport if not extending over 10 inches and/or if 2/3 of the total counter slab is supported by a cabinet or other sub support structure.

While not refuting the concensus, Federal Brace chooses to take a little more conserative approach to the need for countertop overhang support. We feel that there needs to be additional factors considered when determining countertop overhang support. The basic "standards" established take into account the static load of a countertop on its support structure. While static load is by far the most persistent of factors involved in carrying the load of a countertop, it is not the only factor. Some other factors may include:
  • Point Load Occurances - where a heavy object or a significant force is placed on the counter at one point cause possible compromise within the stone slab itself or causing a deflection in the stone to point of cracking.
  • Consistencies of Stone Character - Granite as an example has a variety of different classes (ratings) based on the individual characteristic of the granite itself including the presence of natural fissures that may cause the stone to react differently under force.
  • Location and Environment - An indoor application in Kansas will be completely different from an outdoor location in California - not to mention the difference between a single family home and a frat house with table top dancing!
When considering all the possible factors involved, and thinking conservatively, Federal Brace has established a policy of recommending support on countertop overhangs of greater than 4 inches. Additionally, we recommend that the span between countertop braces does not exceed 30" in most instances when using a gussetted bracket (for more information on gussets view the Anatomy of a Countertop Bracket Here).

And one more thing to consider - though people often use supports under their countertop overhang they do not realize that their countertop braces need to have a sufficient supporting substructure and sufficient anchorage to that substructure. If this is overlooked it could be more of a problem than a solution. As an example, consider a project that uses 3 each 16" x 16" Brunswick Brackets (view here) to support a 20" overhang that extends 8 feet. If this application is entirely supported on a stud wall that is fastened to the floor than the total supporting structure incorporates the floor, studs and brackets. Now place that same application to a 3/4" thick plyboard back of a cabinet. Now the supporting structure consist of its weakest link - the plyboard - and the brackets are of little value. The board will bend and break over time and the whole application will fail.

When considering support for your countertop overhang always be conservative. It will never pay to limit your support and have a system that is either weak or will fail. The extra dollars that you spend on the support of your countertop overhang will save you some gray hair and the need to replace your kitchen countertop in the near future.

For more information on Countertop Overhang Support visit Federal Brace's Countertop Resources Area Here.