Install Tile Countertops like a Pro

It's easy to install tile countertops like the professionals do. To begin, remove all trim from around your current countertop. You will use your current countertop for the base, and will reapply the trim once you complete the task of installing the tile countertop.

Remove the laminate from the countertop and sand to a smooth finish. If there are cracks in the countertop, repair them using wood glue. Sand until the glue is even with the countertop.

You should also ensure that your countertop is level. If it is not, remove any nails from the base in the area that is not level, lift this section of the countertop and apply a thin shim underneath the countertop to make it level. If the countertop is not level, your tiles could buckle and pop off.

Layout

Take dry tiles and lay them along your countertop with spacers between them so that you can get a general idea of how many tiles you will need to install tile countertop. This will also give you an idea of what cuts will need to be made.

Mark the tiles that need to be cut with the proper measurements and cut these before you begin laying your tile. Lay the cut pieces back in place so that you will know where they belong.

When cutting tiles, make sure that you cut them away from the countertop and also make sure that you remove all dust from the cut tiles. If dust settles between your tiles and the countertop, the tile may not adhere well and could pop off in the future.

Applying the Tiles

Secure a 1-inch by 2-inch strip of wood along the edge of your countertop to use as a guide for the tiles. Remove a section of the dry tiles and apply mortar with a notched trowel onto the countertop. Press the tiles into the mortar using a twisting motion to set them firmly into the mortar.

When you install tile countertop you should only mortar a few tiles at a time so that the mortar does not dry out. If your mortar dries out while setting the tiles, they will not adhere well and could pop off.

Install the tile countertop by setting your tiles moving from the edge of the countertop towards the wall applying tiles along the counter's edge first and then applying the corner tiles. Make sure that you space each tile evenly using your spacers. Leave the spacers in place until you have laid all of the tiles and allowed 48 hours for the mortar to dry.

Grouting Your Tiles

You have not completed the install of the tile countertop yet; you still need to apply the grout. Once the mortar has dried, gently remove all spacers with a small putty knife. If you find a spacer too difficult to remove with a putty knife, you can use a utility knife to gently carve it out.

Using a rubber float, work the grout into the tile joints. Pour a bit of grout onto the tiles, and spread with your rubber float. Using a damp sponge, press the grout firmly into the joints by pushing with a light circular motion. Using the same damp sponge, clean any excess grout from the tiles and allow 48 hours for the grout to dry.

Once the grout has dried, you can replace the rim and the installing of your tile countertop is now completed.