How to Install a Kitchen Countertop (Without Removing the Old One)




About: I'm a woodworker/maker on YouTube

This is a relatively simple way to update a kitchen by adding a new timber benchtop, without the trouble of removing the old one.

You can watch the project video on YouTube:

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Step 1: Measure the Existing Countertop

I was recently asked by a friend to help update his kitchen. The melamine benchtop had cracked and chipped and he wanted to bring it up to date by changing it to a wood countertop. Instead of removing the old one I simply installed the new one over the top of the existing one. This would speed up the project but also raise the already low benchtop.

Most countertops are roughly the same depth (this is to accomodate the cabinets makers, appliance manufacturers, etc) so if you were installing a square or rectangular benchtop this would be a simple case of buying a prefab one from the store and cutting it to length. In my case I had a corner to deal with and decided to go with a mitre join.
I started by measuring the existing countertop. Be sure to add a small overhang so that you can cover the existing benchtop. I extended mine by roughly 30cm.

Step 2: Cut the New Wood Countertop

Transfer the measurements onto the store bought benchtop. This was roughly $100 AUD at my local big box store, but I've seen them even cheaper.

Using a circular saw and a piece of wood as a guide, I cut the benchtop to length. Here you can see the mitre (or 45 degree) cut that I created with the 2 pieces.

Step 3: Prep the Old Countertop

Next you need to "key" the surface. You can do this with a knife or sandpaper. All you're doing is creating small indents for the glue to lock into. Melamine is notoriously smooth and slippery so glue won't stick to it. Doing this ensures a good bond

Step 4: Attach the New Countertop

Now you can add the construction adhesive. Add a liberal amount because this is going to have to hold the timber in place, but it also fills any voids if the surface is slightly uneven.

As a general rule timber will move with seasonal changes. In most cases you need to allow for this but with this method we aren't allowing the countertop to move at all. This is fine provided to use enough "fasteners" to stop it from moving. Because this kitchen is indoors it will only be slightly affected by seasonal changes, but you still need to make sure there is as much glue applied as possible (without putting on so much that it squeezes out everywhere).

Place the new counter top into the bed of construction adhesive.

While holding the countertop in place, add screws from below, through the existing bench. I had a friend help apply pressure from the top, but you could also use clamps. This is important to make sure the new bench doesn't move as you drill, but it also squeezes the glue into the 2 surfaces.

Step 5: Apply Finish and You're Done

Once the glue has dried you can sand the counter if needed and apply finish if it wasn't pre-finished.

And there it is! Now I just have to finish the rest of the kitchen.

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    5 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Is gluing it like that make the next guy who has to install a countertop be pissed? Or could is there some trick to remove it? At least being wood it can be refinished, but I have no doubt someone would try to install melamine on top of melamine this way.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Normally the process of replacing a countertop would be to first remove the old countertop, right? I can't imagine what else someone would do. The fact that this is glued to the old countertop doesn't change anything, the next guy would still have to remove the countertop, but now it'll be 2 layers of countertop. I guess it's heavier now, with 2 layers, but that shouldn't be a big problem. It wouldn't be necessary to remove the wood, then the melamine.

    Robin LewisMillennialDIYer

    Reply 1 year ago

    I know what you're saying, but the other option for updating the countertop would be to remove the existing melamine. So if that happens down the line it's no big deal. As altomic said, it was an old kitchen that needed to be replaced. I was helping a mate reno within a budget so he could sell the place, so the chances of that kitchen still being there is quite slim.

    But thanks for the comment, I hadn't thought of it from that perspective.


    Reply 1 year ago

    a kitchen that old will probably be ripped out at next renovation.

    or, it being north queensland, the unit will be destroyed by a cyclone.


    1 year ago

    We know from many remodels that nobody thinks of the next craftsman. This is why the big outfits insist on gut and rebuild from scratch. You get what you get--surprises included. It's all part of the job.