Your New Tile Countertop … Granite or Ceramic!


Is a tile countertop in your future? Solid granite is a popular choice for kitchen countertops, but the high cost of materials and installation can put a BIG dent in your home improvement budget.

You say you really like the feel of granite, though. A less expensive alternative is a granite or ceramic tile countertop. There are 12”x12”, 8″x8″, 6″x6″ and a range of other sizes and configurations available today. This is an easy project to do and tiles weigh less than heavy solid surface, making it a great project for any homeowner.

(Print this out and use it as a check-off/notes sheet for your tile countertop)


__________Safety glasses
__________Tape measure
__________Water-proof apron
__________Level (24″ is good)
__________8″x12″ carpenter’s square
__________36″ straightedge
__________7-1/4″ circular saw
__________Jigsaw (called a sabersaw by some)
__________3/8″x3/8″ steel notched trowel
__________Rubber float
__________Large sponge
__________Carpenter’s pencil or grease pencil
__________Tile saw (can be purchased for around $100)
__________Stone Polisher (optional for polishing the edges)


__________Granite or ceramic tiles (whatever size you choose)
__________3/4” plywood
__________Cement backer board (Hardy Backer, etc.)
__________Box of 1″ wood Screws
__________2″ Masking or painter’s tape
__________Thinset mortar mix (buy pre-made. It’ll save time and mess)
__________Grout (“unsanded” is for spaces between tiles of 1/8″ or less)
__________Grout sealer

Plywood Substrate Tips:

This is really a fun and easy project, but pay attention to the details. It can get away from you. Always check to be sure the cabinets are level. Cut the plywood for your tile countertop making sure to allow for the overhang (1″ – 1-1/2″). Double the plywood, or glue a 3″ strip of wood along edge for a heavier look. You can lay your tile countertop right over a laminate countertop, provided it’s well sanded and absolutely smooth and glued tight to the substrate.

Backerboard Tips:

Use your utility knife and your straightedge to cut the backer board. Score and snap it similar to drywall, cutting along the back “seam” you created. A jigsaw or circular saw works, but will fill the area or room with cement dust. Use the sink (upside-down) for your template and trace around the outer edge exactly where you want it, then cut one inch inside that line, using your saber saw (jigsaw).

Cutting Tips:

A tile saw is messy, so its better to cut outdoors. Wear a waterproof apron or make one out of a black trash bag, cutting holes for your head and arms. Use a grease pencil to make your marks or a carpenter’s pencil. If the lines are hard to see, lay tape down first. Tile saws cut right through tape, or you can use the edge of the tape for your line. Once the water starts flying, however, tape can become messy, too.

Polishing Tips:

Some tiles may not need the edges polished, and especially if you’re edging the tile countertop with wood or you like the rustic look of tile edges. Also, bullnosed tiles might be available to match your tiles, too. If you do want a more finished edge, you should polish before installation using a polisher specifically designed for stone. And, this process, too, is messy.

Laying Tile Tips:

Here comes the fun part. Set up the tile saw somewhere close, but outdoors or in a drained basement or garage. Cut the tiles and polish edges before spreading any thin set, then use the notched trowel to spread the thin-set mortar on the cement board.

Check with a level as you go to be sure all the tiles remain level, as they are not precision-made. You have a great amount of control here, as the thin set is pliable for at least half an hour or so, and with a little muscle, maybe even longer. Now go to a movie or something, then get some sleep. It’ll take 12 or so hours before you should grout.

Grout Tips:

Most of the time your tile jobs will involve spacing the tiles 1/8″ to 1/4″ apart, but even if the tiles are butted together, the narrow seams need to be filled with grout. Un-sanded grout for spaces 1/8″ or less, sanded grout for larger spaces. Force the grout into the seams with the float, then wipe with a damp sponge, and again after it all dries. Then, apply a high quality sealer to prevent stains.

For more information, and instructions on the exact process, search install tile countertop using the Bing Custom Search Box on the right side of this page. Or, of course,search it on Youtube. Because this really is such a fun and rewarding project, I’ll bet once you do one, you’ll want to do many more!.

… for any questions, concerns or problems on a remodeling or landscaping project, just click the carpenter’s pencil above. We’ll get back to you within 48 hours with solutions or advice on where to get solutions.
We never charge for help or advice!.

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Updated: January 1, 2014 — 5:08 am

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