Let’s face it, marble, particularly carrera marble countertops are highly desirable highly expensive. We want the look, but the staggering cost would set you back thousands. So what do you do? One of the most effective design options is use of tile. Tiling the counter is a n easy and simple procedure that anyone can handle with the right equipment. In this tutorial we will show you how to tile over a laminate countertops without having to remove any plumbing or the kitchen sink, creating a tiled undermount sink all at a fraction of the cost.
Tools and Materials
In order to save time and stress, here is a complete list of tools and materials needed for the job.
- Schluter tile edging trim
- Schluter-Ditra Membrane – Waterproof membrane
- 4- Schluter Rondec Sink Corner
- Notched trowel
- Thin-set mortar (adhesive)
- Tile saw (I used a Ryobi tabletop wet saw)
- Hand-Held Tile Cutter with Carbide Scoring Wheel
- Rubber Float
- Diamond Tile Circular Saw Blade
- Tile of choice ( In my case it was Marble floor tile and Base board tile for the edges.
Prepare the Countertop
- Its weird to write this..But clean off the counter-tops. Remove any vinyl contact paper as in my case.
- Using a 80 grit sandpaper, sand over the laminate. This will ensure adhesion.
- Once done wipe off any dust.
- And on a side note: Prepare a bucket of warm soapy water. You don’t want anything going down the kitchen drain.
Install the waterproof membrane
- Layout the DITRA. You want to precut and layout the DITRA to eliminate waste and to ensure the membrane is laid out as flat as possible. The membrane can be cut using a utility knife or heavy duty utility scissors. I myself prefer scissors.
- Apply the thin-set on the countertop in a V or W motion with a trowel forming a thin layer. (I say thin layer but it should be thick enough to allow adhesion.) Do this is sections as you apply the Ditra.
- Carefully place the DITA over the adhesive. Use a flat blade to spread the membrane well, ensuring it is air tight.
- Once the Ditra is adhered you can start tiling. Drying time various depending on the thin-set used. But give it a few hours at least. Or better yet come back the next day.
- It’s best to pre-cut and do a dry layout of the tiles prior to adhering it and just jumping in and start tiling. This again eliminates waste and reducing the likelihood of awkward shapes tile in the middle of the counter. The pattern in which you lay out your tiles is up to you. I went with a standard square brick pattern.
- That being said you should start from the center of the counter space. This is so you will reduce your smaller pieces to the corners and edges of the counter.
- To create a rounded edge I used marble Base board tile.
Creating the Under-mount Sink
- Cut the Schluter tile edging trim to the size of the sink.
- The trim should match the thickness of the tile.
- Adjoin the trim with the sink corner pieces (Schluter Rondec Sink Corner).
- The trim and corner pieces come in various colors and profiles.
- Apply the base layer of the mortar on the DITRA in a V or W pattern.
- Then “butter” the back of the tile.
- Do this in sections. You do not want to simply apply the thin-set every where and start laying the tile after. It will start to dry and not adhere properly.
- After laying out the tile ensure that the tile is level by using a level. You may have to wiggle the tile in place to evenly set the tile in place.
- It was helpful for me to start with the edge baseboard tile and work my way back towards the wall. The tile is 3/4″ thick. So you want the edge to stick out 3/4″ from the counter. This will allow you to evenly butt the side trim tile up against the 12×12 tile encasing the counter evenly with no sharp edges.
- OK for some, you may want to use spaces like a penny or the ones you can find in your local hardware store. I wanted to have as small of a grout line as I could achieve. So i didn’t use spacers. Before to use the size notched trowel that pairs with the desired spacing. 3/8″ spacing with 3/8″ notched trowel.
- To complete the undermount look apply thin-set to the Schluter tile edging trim and place the tile into the trim edging. Remember the thickness of the tile should match the thickness of the profile. In my case the tile was 3/4″ so the trim supported 3/4″ tile.
- Once Tile is set you can proceed with grouting. The color you use is totally up to you. I went with a dark gray grout.
- It’s imperative that you keep your sponge and bucket filled with warm soapy water on hand especially during this stage.
- Mix your grout to a peanut butter texture in a bucket.
- Apply grout forcefully to fill the joints to the bottom. Use a float to force the grout in.
- Clear the excess grout on the tiles and clean the surface with a damp sponge to ensure a neat clean look.
Seal and you are done. Marble countertops with out the $3000-$5000 price tag.
Tips I learned if I had to do this again.
This was my first real tile job. I learned A LOT! I made A LOT of mistakes. It happens. It’s simply apart of the process. But I’d like to share a few of the things I’d do differently if I did this again. (BTW I have no intentions on redoing this. My kitchen update was completed to buy time so that I could save money and totally gut my kitchen at some later date in the future, removing the old 1980s cabinets FOR GOOD.) Check out my completed kitchen update.
- OK GO BIG! For this project I used 12×12 tiles. If I could do it again I would have gone with larger 12×24 tiles. I think at the time I liked the color in the 12×12 better. Now I look at it and wish there were fewer grout lines providing a more modern clean look.
- When using a tile saw always empty the water after each use and don’t allow your blade to sit in the water…EVER. One thing you want to avoid is a dull blade. And at $30+ a pop having the get a new blade sucks.
- Plan, plan, plan. I can’t stress this enough. When getting into any DIY project if you fail to plan, plan on over spending and doubling or tripling your completion time. Do a dry layout of your tiles before applying mortar. You don’t want to end up with a tiny piece in a very visible spot. Or that very tiny piece at all for that matter.