Laying tile on a countertop is a relatively easy project that takes only a few days to complete, depending on the size of the countertop. With the right tools and close attention to detail, inexperienced homeowners can install a tile countertop without any problems and without having to hire an expensive installation team.
Remove an existing countertop by prying it off with a crowbar and hammer. If a plywood piece is not installed underneath, measure and cut a piece to attach on top of the base cabinets.
Sand down the plywood piece and make sure nails or screws are sunk deep and covered with putty to create a completely smooth surface.
Start at one of the front corners of the countertop and apply tile mortar. Apply only a small amount of mortar at a time.
Use a trowel to notch the mortar and then careful place the tiles. Work away from the corner in all directions, and avoid doing one row at a time, incase the rows become uneven.
Leave a small seam between the tiles for later placement of tile grout.
Remove excess tile adhesive or mortar by wiping away with a damp cloth; remove immediately to prevent the adhesive from drying to the surface of the tile.
Continue placing tiles one at a time until you reach the back edge or corners where the tiles require cutting.
Measure the area to determine how to cut the tile for placement in the gap at the back of the countertop. Cut the tile pieces with an appropriate saw blade or notching device.
Find thinner tile pieces to place along the front end of the countertop. You may use cut pieces of tile, but for a more professional, evenly tapered tile, look for tiles in the approximate width matching the countertops thickness.
Fill all seams between tiles at once. Work slowly and carefully to prevent excess grout from spilling out of the seams and onto the tiles. Smooth the grout out carefully to make smooth, professional seams and grout lines. Smoothed grout lines will be easier to clean later on when common kitchen items are spilled on the countertop.
Allow the freshly tiled countertop to dry overnight before replacing heavy objects on the countertop. Avoid cleaning the countertop with liquid for several days, to ensure that the grout and tile adhesive has dried completely.
Wearing safety goggles, a face mask and thick cotton or leather work gloves while laying out a tile counter prevents broken, small particles of the tile from puncturing the hands or cutting the eyes or airways.