Installing a Ceramic Tile Counter Top Installing a Ceramic Tile Counter Top


Countertop Backing:

  1. Tile can be laid over old tile or plastic laminate countertops if need be.
  2. For a new backing, you can use backer-board or plywood. If you use plywood, use exterior grade plywood because the glue holds up better under moisture conditions.

Tile Selection:

  1. With countertops, the edge and trim tiles are much more important than with floors. Just be sure that when you are ordering your tile that you account for all the sink caps, quarter rounds, and backsplash tile you'll need before you actually start installing the tile.

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Laying Out The Tile:

If you are tiling around a sink, find and mark the center point of the sink. If there is no sink, mark the center point of the countertop. Make a dry run of the tiles along the edge to see whether the center line needs to be moved half a tile width so that you don't have less than half a tile on the ends. You may want to cut the plywood so only full size tiles are needed.

You may also want to make a dry run of how the tiles will go around the sink and then label them in such a way that you know where each tile will go after you have cut them.

Use a full tile along the front of the countertop even if the tile along the backsplash will be less than half a tile.

Setting the Tile:

1. Set the edge pieces first before spreading the adhesive for the field tiles. Butter the back of the edge tiles with the adhesive.

2. Use spacers, if necessary.

3. Unless the sink is mounted on top of the tile, lay the sink trim next. Don't forget to caulk between the sink and the plywood backing before setting the sink trim.

4. If you are using quarter round tiles, you can either miter the corners or use specially molded quarter round corners if it comes in the pattern of tile you are using.

5. Next, you are ready to set the field titles. Lay each row of tile from front to back, starting either at the center or from the sides of the sink and work to the ends. Cut the tile as needed.


6. The backsplash is last. Usually you'll be using a bull nose tile that can be applied directly on top of the back field tiles by buttering the back of the bull nose tiles and sticking them to the wall. Just be sure to caulk the joint when the job is finished, after grouting.

7. Let the tiles set up properly, grout the tiles and follow the rest of the finishing procedures we discussed for tiling floors.


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