Bathroom & Kitchen Guide

Your complete guide to remodeling, design and new products.


How to install a kitchen countertop.

Kitchen counter tops provide the tone and setting for the entire kitchen. Changing the counter top can revitalize a tired looking kitchen. Below you will find general directions on how to install different types of counter tops.

The first step in most cases is to remove your current counter top. To do this you must disconnect your plumbing by turning off your water main. Make sure you turn a tap on to ensure the water isn’t still running.  Appliances such as dishwashers sometimes have to be removed to enable access to some screws. If you do need to take the dishwasher out remember to replace it before you put on the new counter top. Unscrew the screws from beneath the counter top. These can usually be found at the corners and along the edges. You may also need to open some drawers to access these. If the back splashes have been caulked you may need to cut away the top of the caulk. Gently remove the counter top being careful to protect the wall behind it and not scratch it. You will also need to remove the kitchen sink to successfully install your new counter top.

Installing a new wood based counter top.

The first step installing a new counter top is to measure and cut out the holes for the sink, taps and anything else that is set into the counter top. The best way to do this is to mark out the required space and to make the cut with a jigsaw. Don’t try and cut the exact sized hole first make a smaller hole then you need and then tidy it up.

When you have finished cutting everything out, screw the counter top into position from underneath, a few little brackets work best and are easier to access. Pop a few brackets underneath to the wall and counter top not just the cabinets. Make sure you are screwing into the studs in the wall not just the dry wall.

A liberal coating of plumbers putty should be placed around the drain cutout to ensure a watertight fit. As much of the plumbing as possible should be attached before the new sink is installed. When attaching the taps to the sink plumbing putty should again be used.  Use a silicon sealant around the sink lip, again to ensure a watertight bond. The sink can now be carefully dropped into place. Some sealant may squeeze out but this should be easy enough to wipe off, make sure you wipe it away with a damp cloth before it sets. Tighten the clips underneath that hold the sink in place, make the final plumbing connections and you are finished.

Installing new granite or stone based counter tops.

Granite or stone based counter tops are both beautiful and durable. They are however difficult to install without the help of qualified tradesmen. When choosing the granite it is useful to see the entire slab before making a choice as this gives you an idea of the scale. A granite retailer will make a template of the counter top using thin strips of plywood glued together to get the accurate dimensions of your counter top. This template is then traced onto the granite and cut out.

Since a granite counter top can weigh more then 300 kilos it is very hard to move into place. Qualified workmen usually do this, because if you drop it the granite will shatter and you will waste a lot more money then what you are saving by doing it yourself. The granite will be clamped in place and holes can be drilled for tap holes. The back splash can be slipped back into place now. Granite is much more expensive than a wood based counter top.

Re-laminating your existing kitchen counter top.

One of the simplest and least expensive ways to change counter tops is to change the laminate and keep the counter themselves.

In this case the first step is to remove the old laminate. Pry away the old laminate with a putty knife or something with a thin blunt edge. Ensure you sand the surface so that it is smooth and even.

Immediately prior to applying new laminate use some rough sandpaper to rough up the surface.  This is so it will accept the contact cement more readily. When measuring the size of the replacement laminate section leave between ½ an inch and 1 inch of extra space to ensure a perfect fit. The final cut should be made on a slight angle so that you get a level finish.

A thin layer of contact cement should be applied with a paint brush to the surface of the counter (Your local hardware store will walk you through the best adhesive for the job). Spread some more adhesive contact cement onto the back of the laminate. Allow the cement to dry to the required consistency then firmly place the laminate in position to ensure a strong seal. Use a paint roller or a rolling pin to push out any air pockets, roll from the center to outer edges. Cut the side pieces to the required size and apply contact cement to the counter and the laminate and again allow drying until it is tacky for a strong hold. Press the strip to the edge and work the air out to the bottom. Use a utility knife to trim the bottom to the length you want. Using a special solvent, clean away any excess cement from the counter top. You can use turpentine but a specialized solvent product is best so talk to the assistant at the hardware store when you pick up your adhesive.

There are other types of counter tops you can install; these are polished stone, marble and cement. They all need to be cut by professionals unless you have a masonry factory at your disposal. However they all fall under the same category as granite, they are expensive and difficult to install yourself as they weigh a lot and are very fragile before they have the correct support underneath them. Although they are the more expensive option and are nearly impossible to DIY they are the more durable options and will last a lifetime.

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