How to Lay Tile Over a Laminate Countertop

What You'll Need
Coarse sandpaper
Ceramic tile
Large bucket
Rubber grout float
Tile cutter and nippers

Overlaying your laminate countertop with custom ceramics will makes your kitchen feel fresh and modern. You might think this is a job left to the professionals, but more and more homeowners are avoiding the middle man and making this transformation themselves. Ceramic tile is durable, easy to clean, and relatively inexpensive, making it a great way to update outdated plastic laminates.

Step 1 – Treating the Laminate

You don’t need to remove the laminate before creating your new tile countertops. If the old countertops are smooth and even, simply tile over them. To achieve maximum adherence, use coarse sandpaper and roughen up the entire surface of the counter. When finished, clean it well and allow it to dry completely.

Step 2 – Planning the Design

Measure the countertop and plan the alignment of your tiles. Corners need to be square, and surfaces should be consistent. Lay out the tiles to better visualize the final product. Laying them diagonally will require much more cutting than a horizontal design. Decide whether you will have borders and how the sides will be trimmed. Install the tiles so that the front edge is square, since that is the most noticeable part of the counter. Cutting around the sink or other inlaid appliances takes special treatment. Mark the center point of the counter after organizing the design.

Step 3 – Laying the Tile

Mix the thinset in a large bucket and spread it about 1/8 inch thick over the entire laminate surface. Use a trowel to create beads all through the adhesive. Begin placing the tile from the center of the counter out, pressing back and forth and side to side on each tile to secure the thinset. Cut the tiles as necessary to fit them to the back wall and place the edge pieces so they are even along the bottom of the countertop. Use spacers in corners to insure uniform distance between each one. Using a straight edge, gauge each row of tiles to keep them level. Tap down any spots that are too high and remove and replace any low tiles using more thinset to even the surface. Let the thinset dry overnight and keep the surface dry.

Step 4 – Finishing the Job

In a large bucket, mix the grout to the texture of peanut butter. Using a rubber grout float, place the grout between the tiles working it deep into the crevices. Work from side to side to entirely fill in the grout lines. Dampen a large rubber sponge and begin cleaning the tiles. Keep the depth of the grout uniform across the entire countertop. Clean the surface carefully after a few hours to remove any excess grout. Grout needs to cure for several days before adding sealer. Follow the instructions on the product for the best results. Your laminate countertops never looked this good.