How To Make Over A Laminate Counter With Tile

Construction & Contractors Blog

Laminate surfaces are made from several sheets of plastic or Kraft paper glued to particle board. However, you may grow tired of the laminate, but you don't want the cost and hassle of replacement.

If the laminate surface is still in good shape, consider installing ceramic tiles directly over the surface to change the look. Follow these steps to update your laminate countertops with ceramic tile.

Prepare to Lay the Tile

To lay ceramic tile over laminate counters, gather:

  • work gloves
  • eye goggles 
  • tape measure 
  • bucket
  • sponge
  • dish detergent 
  • chalk
  • coarse sandpaper
  • grout
  • rubber grout float 
  • notched trowel
  • thin set 
  • tile spacers
  • tile cutter with nippers or tile saw
  • backer board 
  • tile sealer
  • ceramic tiles

Remove everything from the counter, and wipe it off using a sponge and dish soap. Rinse with a damp sponge, then let the surface dry. For an extra greasy surface or stubborn stains, clean them using trisodium phosphate, a powerful degreaser that won't leave residue. 

Roughen up the surface by sanding it with coarse sandpaper, then wipe dust using a damp rag. A substrate isn't always needed, but tile adhesive sticks better to plywood backer boards. It also eliminates the need for sanding. Most backer boards screw in place with strips around the edges. .

Plan the Design

Be aware you can't tile over wrapped edge laminate. Measure the countertop, and plan your layout. Consider  borders, the location of the sink, plus additional fixtures you need to cut around.

It helps to lay the tiles on the surface to get a better idea of the final design. For an L-shaped counter, start the layout at one corner, and work out. Use tile spacers to plan for the location of grout lines, and mark where you need to begin laying tile and pieces that will need cutting.  

Lay the Tile

Remove the spacers and tile. Mix the thin set following the instructions, and spread a one-eighth inch layer over the surface. Work in small sections since mortar dries quickly, and remove excess mortar using the notched end of the trowel.

Quickly set the tiles in the mortar before it dries, starting with whole tiles ensuring the tiles stay even. Keep the corner tiles uniform with spacers. 

Use the tile saw or cutter to trim tiles to fit around objects, and lay them on the mortar. Allow the mortar to dry completely. 

Mix the grout to the thickness of peanut butter, and apply it with the float at a 45-degree angle. Remove extra grout with a damp sponge, and give it several days to cure.

For professional help with this or other projects, get in touch with a remodeling contractor.

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