Tile Your Kitchen Counter Tops

Adding tile to your kitchen counters can be as easy as it is rewarding. Learn how.

Changing the look of your kitchen is only a few steps away.This is a job that will require parts of two days to complete even though we will only be working for a total of a few hours.

We are ready to add tile to your Formica counter top. Below I have outlined the process

that we will use. I will walk you through the steps one at a time to make sure that this

will be a project you will be proud to show your friends and family. With the "holidays"

always just around the corner, now is a great time to start.


I. Prepare materials list and purchase items

II. Are the counter tops secure to the cabinet

III. Do the counter tops need repair for dents, chips or cracks

IV. Clean work area and set-up

V. Step one = create pattern

VI Step two = glue tiles

VII. Step three = Mix Grout

VIII. Step four = Pour grout

A. use plastic putty knife and laytex gloves on hands

1. putty knife to spread over area

2. gloved hand to force into all spaces

B. even the grout

1. smooth the surface of grout on tiles

2. run clean gloved finger lightly down groves

X. Step five = Wipe off powder grout from dry counter

We will measure the area of the counter now. Measure width times length. If the tiles that are

going to be used are the tiny one inch tiles, round both measurements up to the next full inch.

If the tiles are larger, round up the measurments by the full width of the tile to be used.

EXAMPLE: my counter is six feet three inches long. I am going to use five inch tiles.

I will call this measurement, six feet and five inches.

Now if your counter top has rounded edges you need to purchase rounded tile for this area. Make

sure to measure and add in the area for the "back-splash" also.

Along with the ammount of tile needed, we will also purchase the following Items:

#1. One box of "Fix-all" (if the counters have chips and cracks or missing spots)

#2. One rubber sanding block

#3. Four sheets of # 100 grit "wet-n-Dry" sandpaper (no other will do)

#4. One package of laytex disposable gloves

#5. One two inch wide plastic putty knife

#6. One four to five inch wide plastic putty knife

#7. One large sponge

#8. One mastic spreader (looks like putty knife except edge is serrated)

#9. Enough mastic (adhesive for tile) to cover square foot area measured for tile

#10. Grout for tile...sanded if we use large spaces between the tile, unsanded for small spaces

(ten pound bag is more than enough for twenty feet in length of counter. Grout is cheap, get

more than you think you will need so you do not run out)

#11. Three Clean cotton cloths or old towels

#12. A rolling pin ( the kind used to roll out cookie dough)

#13. Two throw away plastic pails ( at least one gallon in sixe)

We are ready to start. It is a fast job and we will be done in very little time.

After you have cleaned the counters of all objects, try to wiggle the counter. Do not rip

it from the wall, but see if it moves when you push or pull on the counter. If it moves

you must at this point secure the counter to the cabinet using wood screws. Do this under

the cabinet. You will see where the cabinet is attached under the counter. Add as many screws

as needed to make sure the counter is firmly attached.

The next thing we will do is to make any repairs in the surface of the Formica counter.

Even though the counter looks clean it may have oil or wax build-up on it. We will clean the

surface with the same product we use to remove soap scum from the bathroom shower. "Tilex" or any

other brand will work. Now that the counters are very clean we are going to "rough up" the shine

to create a surface that will form a better bond with the mastic and grout.

We will use the "wet-n-dry" sandpaper that we purchased to take all the shine off the Formica.

Wet the counter now with a lot of water. Standing water is what we want. Using the rubber

sanding block and one fourth of one peice of the sandpaper, lightly slide the paper across the

wet surface. Do this using long gliding movements of your arm. We do not have to push down on the

block. We just slide it across. Soon there is a change in the color of the water as tiny bits of

the surface of the Formica are being removed. Rinse the papered block frequently to prevent

build-up on the sandpaper. Check your progress by wiping off a section and seeing that it no

longer is shiny. Once you have sanded the surface shine away, rinse the counter and dry it with

cotton towels.

Now we will fill the cracks and chips with the "Fix-All".

Wearing the laytex gloves and usin a small throw-away plastic container we will mix the dry

powder with only enough water to make a putty like thickness of the "Fix-All". This product will

harden very quickly so we will work fast here. Using the clean putty knife, spread the "Fix-all"

into the crack and the scrape off excess. Use the wide putty knife to slide across the Formica

near the repair. If the knife is firmly pushed down on the good surface as we scrape off the

excess , the "Fix-All" will remain in the cracks and chips and be level with the rest of the

counter top. Clean the putty knife now before the repairs harden. Clean any residue off the

counter now. Do not let this "putty" harden anywhere that it should not be.

Remove the gloves and throw away all the waste from this first part of the project. We can

put away the sandpaper , block and "Fix-all" as we are done with them.

Now we are going to get out our tile and work on the pattern. If you like pretty decaled tiles

as an accent decide now where they will go. Lau out a one foot wide section on the counter by

placing the tiles where they will go. At this point you can change your mind a lot as to the

pattern of colors and textures. If you want to add new colors get the tiles now. After you have

placed the section and made sure you have the right sizes and shapes to cover the counter front

to back, including the edges, we can glue the tile down.

Using the mastic as glue and the mastic spreader to get an even coat of ridges, we proceede to

spread the mastic on the counter. We will only coat a foot and a half in counter length for each

foot of tile as we go.This will insure that wehave an even coat of mastic under our tiles.

Now our tile is glued in place we will run our rolling pin over it lightly and from many angles

to insure that the tiles are at the same height. Any mastic that is on top a tile must be

removed. Any mastic that sticks up between tiles must be removed. Now let this dry for the night

and tomorrow we finish the job.

Good morning ! We let the mastic dry overnight to be EXTRA sure it is set prior to the grout.

Now get open the grout bag and pour about two quarts of the dry powder into a large plastic

pail. The other pail is half full of water to rinse your hands and putty knife as needed.Add

enough water to make this look like cake batter, or very thick paint. It should be mixed until

there is no dry powder and all is smooth. Set the bucket on the tile area and with your gloved

hand take a blob of the mix and start rubbing it into the spaces between the tiles. Get it on

there fast and smear it into all the spaces as fast as you can. Now with the wide putty knife in

the other hand start spreading it over the tiles. Rinse your hands and the knife, dry off with a

towel and change gloves. Move the putty pail to the floor and do the area where it was sitting.

Using the wide putty knife slide the knife firmly across the tiles at an angle. These diagonal

swipes across the tile fill the holes without removing the putty.

Continue this diagnol scraping until the grouted tile has a uniform look. Now the grout is

starting to set. It is getting thicker and harder to spread evenly. You are done with that part

now so start cleaning up the area before the grout is hard. Do nor worry about the surface of the

tiles unless you left a thick blob somewhere. Remove any blobs and loose dried grout. Take the

sponge and using clean water, dampen it. Gently wipe back anf forth across the tile surface to

remove partially dried grout from the surface of the tiles. Using a clean gloved hand and befor

the grout is hard, run your fingers along the spaces between the grout to give the smooth

indentions between each. When the grout is dry there will be a powdery residue on the surface of

each tile that wipes off with the sponge.

Your new counter is ready to use and so beautiful.


Rinse your knife and dump your buckets. If you pour this down the drain you will need new plumbing! You pour this putty water in an area that will not be harmed. It is nontoxic, but it does tend to coat plant life and will kill grass by blocking the light. Pour it on top of mulch which can be turned over later to hide the grout color. It is even ok to pour this grout water on the cement.

© High Speed Ventures 2011