How to Replace a Countertop

Countertops are hard, durable surfaces that take constant abuse from water, dishes, detergents, objects, and people. Fortunately, most quartzite countertops stand up many years to this abuse. However, there comes the day when, for decorative or durability reasons, it’s decided that your kitchen or bath needs a new countertop like quartz countertops or marble countertops. In this section you’ll learn how to plan and install the two most popular countertop surfaces: ceramic tile and plastic laminate.


To replace a countertop with ceramic tile, you’ll need tile adhesive, grout, a notched-edge trowel, a rubber-faced grouting trowel, and a sponge. To trim tiles to the correct size, you can use a tile cutter, tile nippers, and a portable saber saw. The cutter and nippers can be rented or borrowed from your tile retailer who will also demonstrate how to use them.

Repair Countertop

First, make sure that your countertop base is firm. If you are remodeling the cabinet or the top has been damaged, replace some or all of the countertop base with 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood. Exterior plywood uses waterproof glue.

Lay a row of tiles from the front edge to the back, allowing spacing for grout, to determine the final tile layout. Cut the final tile to fit, if necessary.

Next, apply a thin coat of adhesive on the plywood base using the smooth edge of the trowel. Once it is on, rake the adhesive with the notched edge. Apply only a small section at a time so that the adhesive doesn’t harden before you can install the tiles.

Install the edge piece first. Then work toward the back of the countertop installing the tiles. Cut and install the final tile, making sure that the tiles are aligned before proceeding. Tiles at the corners of the sink opening may need two cuts to fit properly. Make the cuts carefully with a coping saw or an electric saber saw. Make sure that the sink edge will cover any flaws in cutting.

To begin installing the backsplash tile, spread the adhesive as before, and place the tiles, carefully aligned, above the counter tile. Remember to space the tile for grouting. Work your way up the wall, trimming as required. If the top edge doesn’t butt a cabinet or sill, install a flat bullnose tile to round off the top edge. Do the same along the front edge of the side backsplash section.


Allow the tile adhesive to dry at least 24 hours before grouting. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then spread it over the tiles, forcing it into the cracks with a rubber-faced trowel. Spread the grout over the cracks many times to ensure that it is packed and that excess grout is removed.

Use a striking tool or round-ended stick to “strike” the grout joints, giving them a uniform concave appearance.

Replace a Countertop

About an hour after the grouting is completed, wash the tile surfaces with a damp sponge to remove the last bits of grouting. Rinse the sponge frequently. Before using the counter, allow the grout to dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Finally, to finish the countertop installation the last steps are placing the sink unit with its corresponding faucet, but if you were planning on installing the same old sink you had, you might want to consider looking for other a new set of sinks and faucets for a brand new look to go with your new countertop.


Formica is a brand name of hard and durable plastic laminate that you can easily install as a countertop surface; other brands are available. You can purchase plastic laminate countertops as solid units that only require trimming before installation.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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