Granite Tile Countertops For The Do-It-Yourselfer
Because custom granite countertops can be expensive, many home owners are interested in the do-it-yourself option of using granite tile instead of solid granite slabs to cover their countertops. This project is not too hard for the intermediate home craftsman, but it does take a good bit of prior planning and preparation to get the job completed in a short time frame. Remember, this project will require more than just grout and tile on top of the old counter. Unlike recovering the vinyl tile on your kitchen floor, installing granite tile countertops will require you to remove your old countertops, remove the sink, remove the faucets, drain pipes, and garbage disposal, disconnect and move your kitchen range and refrigerator, install a plywood and DensShield base to the top of the cabinet to glue the granite tile to, and cutting granite tiles....Then you can layout it out, glue it down and grout between the granite tiles. Needless to say, this project needs to be completed much quicker than the basement selves you started last summer. The longer it takes, the more hungry you will be!
There are companies that cater to those who want to tackle these projects that will supply you with granite tile, diamond saw blades to cut the tile, diamond polishing pads to polish the surface on the installed and grouted granite tiles, and the supplies you will need to glue, grout and seal the granite tile counter tops. You can get most of the supplies and lumber you will need at your local Lowes, Home Depot or local home supply store. If you don’t have a tile cutter, check at tool rental stores. To cut granite tile, you will need a special diamond tipped blade and that might be hard to find. You will also have to drill the holes for the faucets. If your local store does not carry the blades or drill bits, you can get them from Diaco Innovations www.diacollc.com. Just remember, get all the supplies and tools you will need, before you even think about removing the old countertops. Also remember to measure everything and lay it out twice before you start. The sink and faucets have to go back in and match up to the other plumbing under the sink. If you plan to replace your old sink, make sure you have the proper plumbing parts to connect the new sink.
12”x12” Granite tile is best for this project and you can figure 2.5 tiles per linier foot of standard countertop to cover the countertops and have enough for the backsplash and front edge. Things you will need in addition to the tile, are the tile cutter (or saw), faucet hole drill bits, thinset mortar (gray for dark tiles or white for light tiles), unsanded grout for the tile joints, a quart of polished-granite sealer to treat the tile and grout surfaces a week or so after grouting the tile, roll of fiberglass mesh tape for taping the Denshield seams, a 1/4-in. notched trowel for spreading the thinset, a 4-in. putty knife, A 2-in. margin trowel, a honing stone to smooth sharp exposed granite edges, a grout float, a color-matching caulk to substitute for grout at inside corners, and plastic spacers to keep your tile evently spaced and support the backsplash tiles. You will also need enough 3/4” plywood and DensShield for the countertop base and backsplash, wood trim pieces, nails and screws.
After you have all the tools and supplies necessary, the old countertop is removed and a decking of 3/4” plywood is used to cover the top of the cabinets and for a splash guard at the back to form the base for the new countertop. DensSshield or concrete board is then glued to the plywood, and the granite tile is glued to the DensShield, and spaces grouted.
Granite tile is typically installed using a layer of "thinset epoxy" to bond the granite to a DensSheld or concrete backing. DensShield Tile Backer is a mold-resistant tile backer board with glass-mat facings and a unique acrylic coating that blocks moisture from entering the wall cavity. International Residential Code (IRC) changes made in 2006 approve its use as a tile backer, even in wet areas such as tubs and showers, where greenboard is no longer approved. DensShield Tile Backer dramatically outperforms heavy, hard-to-install cement board and fiber cement board products in moisture protection, strength, and ease of installation. When installing granite tile for countertops and similar applications it is recommended that the granite tile be spaced using a 1/32 or 1/16 inch spacer between each tile and filled with a matching epoxy grout for maximum stain resistance. Be careful to countersink any screws used to in constructing the base. Your goal is to have a perfectly flat kitchen countertop when you are finished. For installation steps and photos see Family Handyman. The top of the backsplash can be covered with wood trim, or you can use extra tile along the top. The front edge of the countertop can be faced with wood trim, routed to a rounded bull nose edge, or faced with tile. If you face it with tile, you will need to route the sharp edge or at least smooth the edge with a honing stone.
About a week or so after the grout has dried, you can apply the granite sealer to prevent staining. Click here for care and cleaning tips.