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How to Tile Countertops

Updated: Sep. 06, 2019

Tile on laminate: A good idea?

FH07FEB_TILCOU_01-2Family Handyman
Ceramic or natural tile can be applied over an old laminate countertop, but prep work can be difficult, especially with rolled edges. Sometimes it's simpler to start fresh.

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Setting tile on laminate

A laminate countertop is an acceptable base for ceramic tile, but think carefully before you attempt it. If your counter has curved edges, as most do, you’ll have to grind off the raised bead at the lip with a belt sander and you won’t be able to tile the backsplash without cutting off the curved top edge. Some tile stores carry special tiles that will wrap around the front edge, but the selection will be limited. If you choose to go ahead, first rough up the laminate with 100-grit sandpaper and adhere the tile with an adhesive that’s formulated to bond to plastic laminate (look for the adhesive at tile stores).

Frankly, this is a dicey proposition and we don’t recommend it. Some tiles can still come loose, and the grout may crack, especially at the front edge. The best course is to tear off the old top and install a solid 3/4-in. plywood underlayment and a layer of tile backer board before tiling. It’s less work than it sounds and will ensure a long-lasting tile countertop.

Required Tools for this how to tile countertops project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Belt sander

Required Materials for this how to tile countertops project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Special adhesive for bonding to laminate