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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-30-05 05:07 PM
Original message
Tiling over laminate counters
Lots of questions on this topic.

Here are some thoughts and musings. If anyone has any direct experience, please chime in.

First ..... it can and is done ... pretty often. But ... and its a big 'but'. You can't do it on post formed laminate counters. Post formed are the ones with the rounded front edge and the rounded joint between the surface and the integral backsplash ....... unless .....

Unless you put a thin sheet of cement board over the laminate. Cement backer comes in 1/4 thickness and this would allow a build-up that can bridge the counter filet at the surface/backsplash joint. You then have to add it to the nose and backfill the void around the counter nose with mortar. In essence, you're squaring everything so as to accept the tile (which, last time I looked, is unbendable!).

What all this creates is a surface that is pretty much identical to what you'd have if you were starting from scratch.

So why not start from scratch???? The **only** cost savings to this method is the cost of a sheet or three of plywood. More on this later.

On a straight, square-edged counter, you can just rough up the laminate and lay on the mortar and then the tile. that's pretty easy and pretty straightforward. And often successful. But again ..... the **only** savings is a few sheets of plywood and a few sheets of 1/4 backer board.

In all cases of tiling over laminate, here's the real issue ...... the laminate's substrate. 99 times out of 100 it is particle board. And no tile manufacturer on earth will recommend that as a base for tile. Not one. Why? Because if the grout ever fails, that stuff will swell up like a thumb hit by a hammer and the tie will literally pop off. Once that stuff swells, by the way, there is no way at all to get it flat again. The only fix is to replace it.

So now we come back to replacing a laminate counter with tile. I would strongly advise anyone to simply remove the laminate counter, replace it with plywood, top the plywood with backer board and give that (new, expensive, labor-intensive) tile a solid and proper base. It would be seriously bad news if, after doing all it takes to install a tile counter, it failed ina year or three.

So why would anyone consider tiling over laminate? I can only come up with two reasons. The first is the (inaccurate) impression that it will save money. Again, all it saves is the cost of the plywood and the backer board. That is mere pennies as compared to the serious cost of money for the tile and the grout and the even more serious time investment in doing the work. Tiling over laminate, in my opinion, is a true false economy. And if it fails ... well ...... how would you feel then?

The second possible reason to consider it is fear of removing the counter ... simply not knowing how to do it.

The fact is ..... it is easy as can be. The counter is screwed to the base cabinet from below. At the top of each base cabinet, in the corners, is a wooden web. Holes are drilled there, screws go through the holes and up into the underside of the counter. Take a trip to Home Depot and look at the their installed cabinets. You'll see the web I'm talking about. In higher priced cabinets, the web may actually be a strip of wood running front to back at the top inside of the sides. Either was, that's what holds the counter on. Remove the screws and the counter comes right up.

The sink also needs to be removed, but it would even if you just tile over the laminate, so there's no difference there.

Once removed, just cut the plywood to size and screw it down where the old counter was. I would suggest you build up the edges of the plywood with, say, 4" wide strips of plywood. This gives the counter the appearance of heft but saves weight and materials with no meaningful loss of strength. You may also want to build up the counter nose so as to accept a bullnose tile. Just be careful that you don't build it up so thick (some of the new thickness is below the counter) that you can't open the drawers!

Once installed, make the cutout for the sink and tile right up to it. Tile the whole counter and then put everything back.

Honestly, as I see it, doing the job right is little more work or cost than trying to shortcut it. I'd do the job right. After all, its ***your*** kitchen!

Now a bit about tiles ..... be careful that you don't choose wall tile for use on the counter. The difference is in how they're glazed and how they're fired. Wall tiles are the weakest and just won't last in service on a counter top. There may not even be a cost difference, depending on what you choose. Ask your tile guy (a pro .... not the Home Depot guy) what to use. Or more importantly, what **not** to use.

Please feel free to weigh in with your own views. I am not a pro. Just a fairly handy homeowner who's been there and done that.
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Kingshakabobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-30-05 06:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. Excellent advice!! And well put!
You hit the nail right on the head of the swollen thumb. LOL.

I always say: why skimp on materials when you are doing it your self and saving labor charges? Also, I always ask the pro what he would do in his own home. I doubt you would find a tiler that would go over laminate to save 50 to a 100 bucks in plywood and backer-board.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-30-05 06:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. you did this one for me didn't ya?
we'll do something before we sell, but that's a couple years off

but Mr Ketchup isn't keen on doing it at all, so I'll probably convince him to just replace the laminate right before we sell so it's more neutral

but i'm filing this away for the fixerupper we'll end up buying......
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Lugnut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-31-05 01:45 AM
Response to Original message
3. You have a lot of good points.
My tile on formica is almost five years old and so far, so good in the no pop-off department. I did it myself for economic reasons and what was there was so worn out anything would have been better. I also did it because my DH told me I was nuts. Proving him wrong was priceless. ;)
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MissB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-04-06 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
4. The reason I'm not going to remove the laminate counter first
is that I'm going to gut the damned kitchen in 5 years. Tiling the laminate is an in-between fix. I don't really want to make it a bigger project- and pulling off the old laminate counter makes it "look" like a bigger project. Plus, I can't do it myself- I'd have to involve the other half and he's kinda busy with other projects.

But you make excellent points. If I didn't hate the base cabinets and the counter so much, and I had oodles of money, I might be tempted to remove the laminate first and accidentally destroy the base cabinets along the way.
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Nite Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-08-06 06:32 PM
Response to Original message
5. We did the tile over laminate
almost three years ago in two bathrooms and the kitchen. A lot cheaper than a new countertop and holding up well so far. In the kitchen we used the 12x12 granite tiles and a regular tile edge. It looks good, no grout. In the bathrooms we used regular tiles, it's better than the pink laminate that was there!
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-08-06 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. pink laminate? did you say PINK laminate???
like this you mean :cry:

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Nite Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-10-06 12:19 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. No AZ that's sort of rosie
I mean baby pink. We have that in the downstairs half bath and it looks rather good there. These were bad, the edges were sort of not on anymore but the tops were stuck on well enough to put the tile over it.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-10-06 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. ahhh.. I call that "Pepto Bismal" pink and you're right, it's lots worse
in some applications than my rose.

when I bought this house the main bathroom was painted PB pink but I used the days waiting for the moving van to arrive to

a) paint bathroom
b) install dog door
c) put floor to ceiling bookcases in living room

in that order.......

:rofl:
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 05:34 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. That rose is stylin' compared to my harvest gold.
I'll see if I can get a pic to share. It's stunning. :eyes:
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. ahhh, harvest gold and avocado green
i managed an apt complex completely done in those two colors

we kept the "spray a new color" guys very busy LOL
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. No avocado green, though I remember my parents having
Edited on Fri Jan-13-06 05:51 PM by babylonsister
appliances that color. Gak! Here's the gold/yellow/outdated laminate I've got going. My kitchen needs a complete do-over! It's a shotgun kitchen, though I like all the cabinets.

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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. that isn't harvest gold, THIS is harvest gold ROFL, and avocado green
too, just for kicks :rofl:




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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. That is the color I have, minus the green; the sun must have
lightened mine up a bit. Ugh. :banghead:
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. yes, now that you mention it, i see your double oven in the background
so OK my rose isn't that bad lol.......
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