How to Replace a Countertop



There is little short of a complete set of new cabinets that can make as dramatic an improvement to your kitchen as a new countertop. They are easy to replace, come in a variety of colors and patterns, and can brighten a dull, lifeless kitchen overnight.

All you need is a few simple tools and materials to transform your kitchen, so let’s get started!

Replace a Countertop

Step 1: Preparation

Before you get started you will want to take a look at your existing countertop to determine if it is feasible to replace it. Some countertops are built in place and would require total demolition of the base cabinets in order to remove them. Most, however, are simply attached to the cabinets by means of fasteners and / or glue and can easily be removed. Once it has been determined that you wish to proceed, you need to make sure that you have the tools necessary to complete the job. The following is a list of tools required for a common countertop replacement.

1) Hammer
2) Variable speed drill and drill bits
3) Pry bar
4) 4 ft. level
5) Clamps
6) Circular saw and a good carbide blade
7) Philips head screwdriver & bits
8) Scroll saw and good blades
9) Hex head socket driver kit
You will also need some materials to complete the job. Here is the list.
1) Cedar shims
2) Plastic corner triangles
3) Liquid nails
4) 2″ Philips head screws
5) 1″ masking tape
6) 2×4 wood blocking

Step 2: Remove the old countertop

Remove the top cabinet drawers and take everything out of the sink base cabinet. You may need to remove some of the other drawers as well. Shut off the water supply to the kitchen sink and disconnect the water lines. Remove the P-trap and garbage disposal (if present) and then remove the sink.

Make sure everything is removed from the countertop, then wedge the pry bar between the cabinet and the countertop and pry the countertop loose. It is generally best to start at one of the front corners, then get the back corner, and work your way down the countertop. Once the old countertop is removed you need to make sure you have a relatively smooth surface across the top of the cabinets to lay the new countertop on. If there are problems you need to correct them. Make sure you have continuous support for the back of the countertop in corners where 2 cabinets meet at the front. If necessary, cut some 2×4’s and screw them to the wall at the studs. Make sure you check them for level before screwing them down.

Step 3: Prepare for the new countertop

Now that you have a smooth surface on which to lay your countertop, you need to check to see that the cabinets are level. There is nothing worse than finding that water runs to the back of your new countertop and pools in the corner. Temporarily set the countertop in place and cut it to length. Allow 1″ overhang on the ends, and 1/2″ overhang at the refrigerator. Put some masking tape over the countertop along the cut line and cut from the bottom of the countertop to minimize chipping of the plastic laminate. Next set the sink in position upside down and draw a line around it with a marker. Remove the sink and draw another line about 3/4″ inside the other line. This will be the cutout line. Drill a hole big enough to get the scroll saw blade through anywhere along the inside of the cut line. Then cut out the hole for the sink, being sure to put some masking tape around the outside of the cut line to prevent scratches on your countertop.

Step 4: Install the new countertop

Set the countertop in place and fit the seams. Now you need to check the level. Make sure it is level from side to side and front to back. There should be a slight tilt to the front all along the countertop so water runs off the front edge. Use shims as necessary to achieve the desired result. Now simply attach the countertop with liquid nails and / or screws and enjoy!

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