How to Build a Terrazzo Countertop

What You'll Need
Terrazzo tiles
Tile spacers
Wet saw
Grout sealer
Thin set adhesive
Tape measure
Palm sander
50-grit sandpaper
Invisible caulk

Maybe you're looking for a new countertop but don't think you can afford the materials or labor costs to make it happen, especially if you are considering granite, marble or other more expensive countertop materials. For a less expensive option you may want to consider installing a terrazzo countertop surface. With the right tools, materials, and instructions you can do this yourself and create an attractive countertop you can be proud of.

Step 1 – Preparing Your Countertop Surface

Give yourself room to work by removing all objects from the area where you'll be working. Decide if you will want to keep your existing backsplash. Will it be compatible with our new terrazzo countertop? If you'll want a new look there also, remove the existing backsplash. Also, consider covering it with terrazzo tile to match your countertop. If you plan to install your new tile on an existing surface, you must first sand the surface to roughen it and give the adhesive a better surface to adhere to. If this might prove difficult to do, remove your old surface. In either case, use a damp cloth or sponge to remove dust and debris from the surface.

Step 2 – Setting Your Tiles

To install your tiles begin at the sink edge. Line up the first tiles against this edge and work upward toward the back part of the countertop near the backsplash. To the back surface of each tile apply the thin set adhesive before you place the tile on the countertop surface. As you place each tile, press it firmly against the countertop to give it a more secure bond. Before placing the next adjacent tile, place a spacer between the 2 tiles. As you reach an outer edge, you may find that your edge tiles need to be cut to fit. Use your wet saw to cut them to the right size. To hide these edges, install bull nose tiles. This will give your countertop a neat, finished appearance. When finished, allow the tiles to dry overnight.

Step 3 – Applying Grout

With all spacers removed from between the tiles, begin mixing an amount of grout small enough that it will not dry before applying it. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing. Ordinarily, grout texture should be as thick as peanut butter. Apply it into spaces between the tiles, removing excess grout from tile surfaces while it is still set enough to remove. When the grout has dried overnight, apply grout sealer.

Step 4 – Applying Caulk

To keep water from seeping under your newly installed tile, apply caulk to the tile edges at the sink and at the backsplash. As with the grout, remove any excess caulk from the tile surface before it dries. Trim the caulk to create a smooth and professional look. If you're installing these terrazzo tiles on your backsplash, use the same materials and installation techniques.