Knowing how to install countertops in your kitchen could save you a ton of money when renovating. Swapping out and replacing kitchen counters that are damaged, looking tired, or old-fashioned can give your room a whole new life with very little disruption.
And the good news is, if you already have DIY experience, the installation is a job you can do on your own. Factoring in new countertops into your kitchen remodeling costs is a must, and installing them yourself is a great way to freshen them up without spending more than you can afford.
Here you will find what you need to know about installing countertops as well as the best expert advice. But a word to the wise first. There are some countertop materials that we don’t recommend for do-it-yourself installation, and we’ve got the truth they’re for you.
How to install countertops: the know-how you need
If your kitchen cabinets are healthy and the layout is efficient, new countertops may be enough to update your kitchen, and knowing how to install countertops will save you on labor costs.
How to install laminate countertops
If you are installing countertops yourself, we recommend that you choose laminate. Laminate countertops come in a wide range of colors and effects, allowing them to mimic the look of more expensive materials.
Before purchasing, you will need to measure carefully in order to purchase the correct countertop length. Measure the length of countertop required, allowing an overhang unless it is flush. Also check that the depth of the cabinet is 23.75 inches (60 cm), which allows the counter a little overhang.
“Another great way to measure is to use an oversized piece of cardboard to create a model of your countertop and trace the area,” says Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi. “This box will allow you to have exact measurements when purchasing your materials.”
1. Cut countertops to size
Use a fine-toothed saw to cut the laminate board to the correct length. The edges can be cleaned with a file. Measure very carefully before cutting to avoid costly mistakes.
2. Position the worktop on the bottom cabinets
With someone to help you lift, place the counter on the bottom cabinets. Push it comfortably against the wall and against any corner it meets.
Adjust as needed so that the front overhang is even; this may not be the case if the wall behind is not even.
3. Adjust the countertop fit
If the wall is uneven, you will need to adjust the countertop for a perfect fit by tracing the line of the wall.
Secure the countertop in place and place a strip of duct tape along the back edge so that you can draw a pencil line along it.
Set a compass on the largest space between the counter and the wall. Keeping it at a right angle to the wall, pass the dot along the wall so that the pencil draws a line along the masking tape.
Move the worktop onto a pair of saw horses or work benches and use a Surform planer to shape it according to the line.
4. Fit the end trim
Where the countertop ends on a wall or appliance or overlooks a base cabinet, it will need a matching laminate trim on the exposed edge. It may come with an iron-on sealant or you may need to use contact adhesive according to the instructions to apply the seal. Trim the edges with a craft knife and use a file on the rough edges.
5. Secure the counter
To secure the counter in place, first drill clearance holes in the cabinet frame; three screws on the front and three on the back of each cabinet should suffice.
Set the counter in place on the base cabinets and drill up through the clearance holes in the frame in the counter. Make sure you don’t drill into the counter – you may want to mark the bit with masking tape as a depth guide. Use wood screws in each mounting position.
Adjust counters around a corner
If the worktop goes around a corner, a junction strip will be necessary. Trace the second section on the wall as above, then screw the joining strip to the second length of the countertop, butt it against the first and secure it in place from below.
Can you install counters yourself?
If you plan to install kitchen countertops yourself, be aware that not all types of countertops are suitable for a DIY installation. “In order to install stone or quartz countertops, you will need to fabricate the countertops to fit the exact size needed for your kitchen,” says Bill Samuel, licensed general contractor in Illinois and residential real estate developer at Blue. Ladder Development.
“That means you’ll have to cut the stone to fit the layout of your kitchen cabinets and the location of the sink. Unfortunately, manufacturing granite and quartz requires a lot of specialized heavy equipment to cut countertops that require warehouse space. However, countertops such as laminate and butcher’s block can be cut with basic power tools allowing for DIY installation. ‘
Countertop Specialty owner and creator Ryan Burden suggests precast laminate as the best option. “Prefabricated laminate countertops make DIY installation a snap,” he says. “The only basic skills needed are the ability to measure and cut wood. The laminate is already formed and glued to the fiberboard backing with an edge and backsplash. ‘
Installation of quartz, quartzite, marble and granite countertops
What about how to install countertops made from materials other than laminate? In fact, it is usually not possible to purchase whatever material you want for DIY assembly if engineered stone quartz, or natural quartzite, marble, or granite is your preference. “Few stone warehouses will sell granite, quartz or marble slabs directly to the owner. So you’re probably unlucky from square one, ”says Ryan Burden.
“Cutting granite, marble or quartzite to the precise dimensions of your countertop requires the use of large, specialized machines or a lot of skill and experience,” he adds.
And keep the weight in mind, too. “Countertop slabs, especially if you go with stone, can be extremely heavy and difficult to move,” says Bailey Carson.
Weight matters for another reason. “Countertops like granite and quartzite are much heavier than laminate countertops, and your cabinets must be able to support that weight,” says Melanie Musson, home improvement expert at Expert Insurance Reviews.
Our recommendation? Call in a pro if any of these materials are your preference.