New countertops are a great way to rejuvenate an older kitchen or bath, or put the finishing touch on a remodeling project. Make sure you know how the process will work by learning more about these general countertop installation guidelines.
1. Choosing what you want and what you can afford
The first step to a countertop installation is determining what you want installed. You’ll need to select what material, style and finish you’d prefer to complete the new look of your new kitchen or bathroom. This is usually best accomplished by visiting a kitchen and bathroom remodeling showroom, or if you’re selecting a natural product, a granite or marble slab showroom.
Depending on your comfort level, you can browse on your own or with the help of your countertop installation contractor. A contractor’s help can be essential if you’re working with a limited budget or if you’re unsure of the best style to suit your home’s décor.
But before you start shopping, don’t forget that your choices aren’t limited to traditional granite, marble or even Formica products – formed concrete, stainless steel, ceramic tile and glass tile countertops can also be popular choices.
2. Measuring the space
Once the design specifics and materials have been selected, the countertop installer should take measurements of your existing countertops and cabinetry, noting special features such as the location of the sink, faucets and electrical outlets.
The old countertops may need to be removed prior to this step to ensure the most accurate measurements, but they can be temporarily replaced before the new countertops are installed. Accurate measurements are absolutely necessary to ensuring the new countertops are cut and fitted correctly.
Your countertop installation contractor will use these measurements to make an outline or template of the new countertops. In the case of natural stone, this template will be applied to a large slab of countertop material so it may be cut correctly to fit.
Other material types, such as synthetic stone or stainless steel, may utilize the measurements to custom manufacture correctly sized countertops.
3. Preparing the installation site
Before the installation starts, the old countertops will need to be removed and any plumbing fixtures will need to be disconnected. Depending on the countertop company, you may need to hire your own plumber to disconnect plumbing and reconnect it after the installation is complete – be sure to ask about this factor early in the hiring process.
Another variable is whether you’ll have to move large appliances like refrigerators and ovens on your own, or if the installation company will provide the labor.
4. The installation
When installation begins, the countertop materials will be laid over the countertops after a layer of plywood has been added to the cabinet tops to support the new weight. A layer of adhesive is typically applied before installation to ensure the countertops don’t shift.
If the countertop includes multiple sections or a separate backsplash, a filler or sealant will be applied to the seams and colored to match the counter material. Once the countertops have been installed and the filler has set, it’s time to reconnect the plumbing fixtures and move appliance back in to place.
Finally, your countertop installer should provide specific instructions for the ongoing care and maintenance of your new countertops.
If you're ready to start the first step in your kitchen or bathroom countertop installation, start with the right professionals. If you're an Indianapolis area homeowner, read up on the member-submitted reviews and ratings on more than 400 countertop installation specialists on Angie's List.