Building Durable Tile Countertops Building Durable Tile Countertops

Installing your own tile countertops can save you a lot of money since this is a labor intense activity. With a little time and a little know how, you can install countertops like a pro.

Materials Needed:

•A mason trowel
•Measuring tape
•Framing square
•Tile cutter
•Tile snips
Step 1 -  Preparation

Remove the sink and prepare the countertop area for work. Before tiling over bare wood, sand it with coarse paper providing a better gripping surface. If building new, choose to install a concrete backboard.

Step 2 -  Install Edge Tile

Begin at the most accessible countertop corner. Before applying grout, stage a dry run. Make sure to measure and cut all the tile needed for the area you will work before mixing the grout. When ready, place a small amount of grout on the wood surface and use the trowel to create as many horizontal ridges possible to form a better bond with the tie. Place each tile firmly allowing them to set for several hours before touched. Make sure to clean up any extra mortar from the tile before setting takes place using a wet sponge and a putty knife.

Step 3 – Tile Cutting

As the edge tile dries, start to layout for the top of the counter beginning near the sink area. This is a focal point when viewing the countertop and since it will get the most attention, it is important to make sure the tile around this area is perfectly even. Place a row around the sink area to determine if any cutting is required. If cutting is needed, make sure all cut tiles are the same size to maintain symmetry. Cut tiles should be nearest to a wall. Use a wet saw or tile cutter and snips for any arced cutting.  Place the tile around the sink area in exactly how they will sit and then lay additional tile out to the edges of the counter top from the sink. Make whatever cuts are needed.

Step 4 -  Using Quick Dry Mortar

Mix enough mortar to cover the tiling area where you are presently working. Remove the laid out tiles a few rows at a time apply mortar to the wood beneath them with a putty knife. Then use the notched edge of the trowel to create parallel lines throughout the applied mortar. Place the tile firmly on the counter top just like it had been laid out during the dry run. Once all the tiles are in place, wipe off any excess with a damp sponge. Allow for at least 24 hours for the mortar to dry. Place towels on top of the tile and gently lay some heavy objects on top to fore the tile down and push out any air bubbles.

After the mortar dries, fill in any spaces or valleys using a small putty knife. Use a float to remove any excess grout. Wait another 24 hours and then apply a sealant to the entire surface area. Place a thick bead of caulking around the sink cutout and put it back in its place. Press it down firmly and reattach all plumbing.


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