Granite Tile Kitchen Countertops




With old stained, burnt laminate countertops staring at me for the last year of being in the house, I decided it was time to upgrade. I looked at the great instructable of doing concrete countertops. I milled it over in my head for months. But I didnt feel that I was up for the challenge- Also, I wasn't sure I was ready to not have a kitchen for more than a week...

I found the Quick and Easy Granite Countertops at Floor and Decor Outlets.
The Quick and Easy Countertops are 18"X31" and polished on all sides. This eliminates figuring to buy bullnose pieces, build a wood frame or hand polishing with the standard 12X12" tiles. Also the Quick and Easy tiles are 1/2" thick tiles.

The granite was about $12/sq. ft. and it ended up being around $25/Sq. Ft. for the finished product- including waste (I have a good few pieces of granite that I would like to try inlaying into wood projects) And one full 18"x31" piece that I will hold onto- just in case I break a piece in a fit of anger....
This Instructable can be applied to any tile, granite, marble, ceramic, glass. I just found what I thought was the best option for me.

You will need enough tile for your tops. Standard countertops are 25" deep so for every linear foot of countertops, you will need 2 square feet of tile. I would suggest buying 20% extra for waste, bad cuts, non-matching tile, cracks or other imperfections. The last thing you want is to find out you need one extra piece to finish when you have your mastic (tile adhesive) ready to go.

I have my own tile saw that I have used for other tile jobs, but it is one of the cheapest ones you can get from the big box home improvement stores and I was unsure how it would handle the thick granite. I rented a 10" tile saw. Ill talk about the problems I ran into that when I get to that step...

So, material list?
- Tile - 20% extra
- Mastic - tile adhesive
- 1/4" square notched trowel
- 1/2" Marine grade or pressure treated ply (I was told they are pretty much the same thing...)
- 1/2" Hardie board
- Hardie board screws
- Deckmate or outdoor screws- for the ply
- Tile saw
- Masking tape
- Safety glasses
- Plastic rolls -tarp for covering the countertops
- Grout- I used a three part expoxy grout
- Grout trowl

By all means, this list is not exhaustive. Im sure you will need other parts, tools, supplies as you get into doing this. Hopefully you will have enough forethought to catch it before its too late!!

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Step 1: Remove the Old Tops

OK, for the people that are doing this with at new kitchen, go ahead and skip this one.
For everyone else....
You want to make sure that everything is out of your way...

Take all the stuff off the counter, remove the first few drawers and all their contents. This ends up getting messy, so if you are clumsy or a stickler for really clean everything- cover your floor with rosin paper or anything that you have laying around.

Remove the sink- Im not going into how to remove the sink- there are tons of instructions of how to do so everywhere- This is how I figured it out...
Get the stove/range out of there.

Usually laminate is glued or screwed or both...
I was lucky, mine was only screwed in. It had three or four screws at the end of each length of tops. Get those drawers, out of your way so you can get in there.

There is a bead of caulk on the wall part- take a stanley blade and cut that. Lift up and reuse those countertops in your shop/garage/shed!!

Step 2: Secure Ply and Hardie Backerboard

Now that the tops are out of the kitchen, inspect the cabinets to make sure the weight of the new tops- granite tile in my case can be handled.

Near the sink, there were not enough "joists" to hold the weight. I installed a 2"x2" piece of pine and attached it with small "L" brackets. This helps prevent sagging when the weight of the ply, hardie board, granite and all the other crap I store on the countertops gets applied...

After inspecting and reinforcing where necessary, Its time to measure and cut the plywood.
Since countertops are a standard of 25" deep, and there needs to be a front lip on the countertops, you need to cut the ply at 24" deep. This worked out for me because my hardie board was 1/2" and so was the tile.

Dryfit the ply in and make sure the front is inline with the fronts of the cabinets...
My cabinets were custom built to the kitchen so slight changes were needed to shave off on the wall side of the ply to ensure even fit for the fronts.

Get your sink- old or new and use the template (or use the old sink) to make your cutout.
Make sure the is enough support around your sink- some sinks are pretty heavy, but a sink full of water with dishes is extremely heavy- you want to make sure there is enough support- you dont want your sink to fall through when you are done...

After doing the sink cutout, screw the ply down to the cabinets with the deckmate screws- you might need to countersink the screws if they arent going down far enough.
Check the sink- if it doesnt fit, you may need to take out the jigsaw and cut where necessary. Just make sure you are still centering on the window/cabinet or wherever the sink is being placed.
Double check to make sure you are level and now its onto the backerboard

I wanted to have an overhang on the hardiboard so the tile rested on the full pieces of board- I didnt want a lip at the front. So I cut the cement board at 24 1/2" deep.
Dryfit the board and get under the sink and draw out what needs to be cut out from the underside using the cutout from the plywood as your template.

Again, make sure you are still only 1/2" from the fronts- shave off where necessary.

Dryfit the sink again.
Get the Hardie board screws- yes they are expensive, yes it feels silly buying a box of screws just for hardie board. They work great, they pull themselves down so you dont need to countersink- I highly recommend.

I cut the Hardi board with a carbide jigsaw bit. I hear you can use some sort of shears and it doest make much dust... I didnt have anything like that. It creates lots of dust- do it outside, put on a respirator- I didnt for the first cut and I coughed my way inside to get the respirator- I highly recommend... only if you care...

Step 3: Leveling

I could have used shims to level everything out before hand... But whats the fun in that...

Soooo After securing the backer board and finishing up for the day, the next day I realized that I had not checked the level beside the dishwasher... The answer?
Self-leveling concrete.
It works like a charm- I had to "build" a duct tape form for the front besides the dishwasher and tape off the back to make sure none of the concrete dripped behind the dishwasher.

Mix up the mix so its a water consistency. (It dries quickly). Spread it out and let it dry.

You could have skipped this step by putting shims under the ply, or between the ply and cement board.

Step 4: Tiling

I rented the tile saw, But after trying to calibrate it (to ensure straight cuts against the guard) I realized that it couldn't be done. Straightening it out as far as possible still made the tiles be off square by 1/4" per 24"... Unacceptable....
This may not really be noticeable with 12"x12" tiles, but with 31" pieces, It wouldnt work...

So... I had to freehand all my cuts. I put masking  tape down, clamped the tile down and slowly, very slowly ran it through the saw. 

I cut 1.5" strips for the fronts, keeping the polished piece. Then I cut my 25" pieces, also keeping the other polished piece.
Dryfit all the pieces and adjust where necessary

I didnt want grout lines in the middle of the sink, so I used cut 30" strips for the front, back and edge strips.

Next spread out the mastic, and start putting down the tile. The mastic dries fairly quickly so be ready to adjust and have all your pieces cut and ready to go.
Attach the front strips and hold them in place with masking/painters tape.

Dryfit the sink again!!!!
You dont want to grind down later.

I plan on putting a slate backsplash up soon, so I didnt cut any granite for a small backsplash- I want the slate to go all the way down to the tops.

Step 5: Grouting

I used the three part epoxy grout. Its supposed to be a little flexible, highly stain resistant and works well with really thin grout lines.

I butted all my granite together because there were beveled edges. I didnt want 1/4" grout lines on the countertops.

Using regular granite tile, without beveled edges, I would do a 1/16" grout line.

Press the grout into the grooves and spread it with the grout float. Pull across holding the float at a 45 degree angle and then push it back down into the grooves. You dont want a crack later, so make sure all grooves are filled. Keep a damp cloth on hand to wipe up some stubborn bits. Use a damp sponge to get rid of grout residue on the tiles but make sure you arent wiping up the grout in the lines

Step 6: Sealing

The grout I used doesnt really need to be sealed, but even though granite is hard and not very porous, It is a stone, it is still porous, It can still be stained and it needs to be sealed.

I went with a Dupont brand stone sealer. - Spray it on, let it sit, wipe/buff it off. Very simple.

Give it a few days- 72 hours before heavy use or cleaners.

Next step is enjoying the new countertops.
This can be done by not pointing out any imperfections (though I know you will).

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    25 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 4

    Do you live near NYC? I'd love to hire you to make a granite counter for my kitchen. Beautiful work!


    8 years ago on Step 5

    I would have put a bead of clear silicone caulk between the tiles. Since they're butted together and all


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Nice instructable and beautiful work. Can you show a picture of the unpolished edge mentioned in step 4 after the stone sealer is applied? I'm really curious as to how it turned out.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    What a wonderful job! I would love to have granite but didn't know how to make those grout lines less obvious--you solved the problem for me by finding the right kind of grout for a nearly seamless look. And can I ask where you got that beautiful, unique sink?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I got the sink at Home Depot or Lowes. Its a composite granite sink. You can mount over or under the countertops.


    You would still have to attach the backboard to the laminate and this would add an extra 1/2" to the front 2" overhang. This was more than I wanted. It would make it look too thick for my liking. My sink size was different and I wanted the countertop to go all the way to the wall and that would have caused me to have to take off the built it laminate "backsplash".


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Check out my instructable on cutting large tile on tiny table saws:
    I was cutting 24" tiles on a tiny hobby 7: saw.

    Other people suggested rotary saw with diamond blade---your method, but using a fence clamped to the piece. I think it would have worked too.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    great job might have to do something like this myself


    9 years ago on Step 6

    BEAUTIFUL!!! Very Well Done!!! If you want an easy backsplash to go with that great counter you can either coordinating tile or texture with drywall mud and paint!!! Thanks for posting and enjoy!!!!

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! The original plan was to put in glass tile- a greenish color. But I think it might make it too glossy- the cabinets already have a sheen to them. I dont know if Im the biggest fan of textured drywall, but thanks for the input.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

    Nice job & great Instructable ... DH and I are thinking along the same lines for kitchen countertops because we have WAY too much counter and not enough moola for a full granite slab. FYI ... textured drywall as a backsplash is a BEEYOCH to clean. I'm speaking from ongoing experience. Don't do it! We're thinking either subway tiles (easy to clean) or stainless steel (very easy to clean).


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Your stainless idea. How would you connect two pieces together seamlessly? A good polished weld would still show up, wouldn't it? I do like the look of hammered copper. But I would still run into the seam issue.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    cool. nice job. do you need to use backer board when putting up the backsplash? ...and how much did that faucet set you back? i see those "incorporated" sprayers in most of the kitchen hardware these days, and was wondering how you like it compared to the older 2 piece style faucet?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not going to bother putting up backer for the backsplash. I paid just under $200 for the faucet. The sink the I have was a gift and there was a one hole cutout for a sink. I've really liked having a large one bowl sink and the faucet works very well with it.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful job! I think it would be amazing to do the backsplash with the same granite tile as the countertop. But, the green glass tile would be beautiful as well...I don't think they would be too glossy...the wood cabinets are a warm counterpoint to the granite and/or glass. Whatever you decide to put on the backsplash, it looks and performs best when you go all the way up to the stove hood and keep that height/line for the other areas. This offers great protection for the wall behind the stove top, and looks high-end.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Personally, if I had tiles that size, I would do a countertop that extended 31" from the wall with the cabinets, etc pulled out as well and use 2x4 on the wall to support it. I think a countertop that deep would be wonderful! Plenty of space for appliances AND working space too! Of course I'd never get DH to agree so I guess I'd use the 6" I cut off to make a short backsplash 'cause no way would I get to spend the money for a backsplash like I'd want! Great job on your project.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Lumpybat; There is no arsnic in the solution used to treat wood any longer. But I still don't think it should be used in the kitchen where the preparation of food takes place. But I would agree that ordinary ply would have been okay just seal it to be sure. How ever, the job turned out Greatttt. Way to go!!!! Ajah


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great job, looks nice. I'd be concerned with using pressure treated plywood indoors though. I'm not sure if pressure treated still means that arsenic is used, though new pressure treated may have had the toxics removed. I would think that regular plywood under the hardie board would've been fine, work well for floors.