You may want to make the kitchen look more appealing by adding new granite countertops, but the installation price may be too expensive for you. However, you can reduce costs by doing the job yourself.
Here’s how to tile over an existing countertop by yourself:
- Prepare the materials: tiles, hand sander, thinset mortar, grout, trowel, wipe rags, tile saw, tile spacers, rubber gloves, measuring tape, sponge, and eye protector.
- Take off the sink, faucets and garbage disposal. Shut off the water valves under the sink and disconnect the hot and cold pipes as well as the waste pipe at the joint. Measure the countertop area then buy the appropriate number of tiles to cover it. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples to bring home and compare against your countertop. Buying larger tiles will keep costs down by simplifying the layout and keeping the installation straightforward.
- Prepare the surface. Use the hand sander to remove the glazed surface so that the mortar can grip the area better. Wipe the surface with a moist cloth, then a dry one to remove the dust.
- Lay the tiles. Start with the front then work your way to the back so that the cut tiles will be less noticeable. One rule of thumb in tile arrangement is to have the last partial tile of each row at least half the width of the tile. This will prevent having unsightly skinny tiles from appearing at the edges.
- Prepare the thinset mortar. Use rubber gloves and trowels to spread the mortar on the surface, working in small sections. Start with the tiles at the end or the center. Place a tile on the mortar then gently press it on all sides. Put tile spacers on all four corners to ensure correct spacing. Place all the full tiles first before proceeding with the cut tiles. Use a straightedge or hand level repeatedly to make sure the tiles lie flat. Remove any mortar from the tile joints before it hardens.
- Use a tile saw for the cut tiles. Measure the pieces that will fit along the wall or around any obstacle. Minimize the number of cuts needed with careful measurement. Wear protective goggles during this process.
- Apply grout. Remove all the tile spacers first then spread small amounts in various parts of the surface then press then in the spaces between the tiles. Use sanded grout if the joints are 1/8th inch or thicker, or epoxy grout which is common for kitchen settings. Use a sponge to remove the excess grout then wipe off the haze buildup on the entire surface. After 24 hours, apply a tile sealer over the entire countertop surface to prevent staining and cracking.
- Reinstall the sink, faucet and garbage disposal.
Avoid tiling your way around obstacles, as this will look unprofessional. Some of the specialty equipment like the tile sander and tile saw can be rented at your local hardware store. A granite countertop is an instant room upgrade, and with a little do-it-yourself attitude, completely within budget.