How do I fix this counter with tiling?


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Old 01-22-08, 11:09 AM
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Question How do I fix this counter with tiling?

Our counters are really old 1950's formica or something like that (you can see it on the backsplash, where I scraped away the wall paper - it's dark red). This one 12" section between the original cast iron sink/drainboard and the stove (free standing) was covered with wallpaper for some strange reason. I always kept a marble cutting board over that section, but the wall paper has still become really gross from liquid that has seeped under. So, I went to peel off the old wall paper and the whole layer of formica or whatever just came off with it. I can see that underneath, the wood base is cracked right across the center, which might be why they covered it in the first place.

I just want to do a quicky, mostly cosmetic tiling job to cover this section. We plan to completely renovate the kitchen in about 3 years anyway, AND I am a newbie at DIY, to boot! Since, as you can see in the picture, I could not scrape away all of the backing of the formica, what can I use to level out the surface before putting down the tile cement backer board? I've tried scraping it off, it's not coming - it's some sort of wood or paper fiber stuff. I don't own a sander, so I can't sand it down, plus that would be too much work. Putting down another layer of plywood is not an option either - no tools to do that.

I DO want to put tile down here, mostly because I'd like to learn how to do it. When we redo the kitchen, I might like to tile the counters myself. This mini-DIY project will be a test to see how committed I am!

The work only needs to hold up for a few years. I plan on getting help from a home center with the supplies and how-to on tiling, but I have been doing some research. I figured I would scrape off the wallpaper, then gorilla glue down some cement board for the tile. But since I don't have a smooth surface to work with, I need help getting started!

 
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Old 01-22-08, 03:35 PM
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The only option you left yourself, if you truely want tile, is to just tile directly over the old countertop, which is not advised without proper preperation.


A "quicky" way of doing it would require you to sand the existing surface so thinset could adhere to it.

The proper way would be to tear out that counter and install 3/4 ext. grade plywood, install a CBU, then tile.
 
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Old 01-22-08, 03:43 PM
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I worry when people say they are going to the 'home center' for advice. It is usually bad advice and they are only trying to sell you cheap stuff.
That said, for a short term life on the tile, thoroughly clean the surface with paint thinner and then alcohol, after roughing it with course sandpaper. Seal with a coat of shellac or similar. Apply some thinset mortar and your tile, then grout. Adding backer boards will raise the level too much, and as i said, for the short term, what I suggest will work. It will not work in the long run.
 
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Old 01-22-08, 03:47 PM
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Bill,

I work at the orange big box (flooring dept, PT).....not all associates are ignorant....
 
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Old 01-22-08, 07:52 PM
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I don't mind raising the level of the tile a little by using backerboard. If anything, it might encourage moisture to run down towards the drainboard into the sink.

Ripping out the counter and replacing it would be a waste of my time and money, since we will redo the whole kitchen in a few years anyway (we will be paying pros to do it, actually). But I can't leave the counter the way it currently is, because it's a major work surface being next to the stove. I also don't want to just put my marble cutting board over it again, since it's even more exposed now than it was when it had the wall paper on it. I also don't like the idea of using paint thinner (is that the same as turpentine?) or denatured alcohol (I assume you didn't mean rubbing alcohol?) since this kitchen is also in full use and I have a baby running around (not immediately while I would be working there, but within hours). I'd rather not have the fumes around her (and her bedroom is above the kitchen), even though I can do without the use of the workspace for a few days.

So, if not tile, then what other surface is easy for an unexperienced DIYer to do with minimal tools? My husband is saying we should just have a piece of plywood cut and nail it over for now, but I know we need something non-porous and that can be cleaned/disinfected.
 
 

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