Granite Tile Countertops
If you have decided to install your own granite tile countertop, then this article will walk you through purchasing all of the products needed to complete this project. For more reading related to granite tile countertops please refer to my other articles that detail every step of the process.
If you have arrived at this article, but have not chosen your granite tile yet, then please refer to my article “Selecting Granite Tile for Your Kitchen Countertops.”
The next step in the process of installing granite tile countertops is to purchase the additional materials that you will need to accomplish the job. There are many other products that you will have to purchase and this article will walk you through the selection of each material. By knowing what you need ahead of time, this will allow you to purchase all of the materials at once and avoid countless trips to your home improvement center.
You will need plywood. Preferably ¾ of an inch thick commonly referred to as 25/32 of an inch. This is usually 5 ply plywood and is more than strong enough for this application. The plywood will have to covers all of your base cabinets. Careful measurements must be taken to see how much material you can get out of each sheet of plywood. Plywood is sold in 4 feet by 8 feet sheets.
For countertop applications you will need your plywood cut at a depth of approximately 25 inches leaving only 23 inches behind, therefore you will only get one useful section out of each piece of plywood. You want to purchase enough plywood to avoid any seams in your countertop, if possible. However, if you have a length of countertop that is longer than 8 feet you will have to place a seam somewhere. I recommend locating the seam where two base cabinets meet to add support to the seam.
Next you will need to purchase cement backer board. I recommend a product called Hardi Backer. I recommend ½ inch think Hardi Backer for this application. This product typically comes in a 3 foot by 5 foot sheet. Again, you will want to avoid unnecessary seams so purchase your product accordingly. The Hardi Backer will be placed on top of the plywood to give a good base for the granite tiles.
Now we will move on to thin set or mortar. The thin set will be used to attach the Hardi Backer to the plywood and to attach the granite tiles to the Hardi Backer. An average size kitchen will require around 50 pounds of thin set to complete the job. I recommend purchasing a modified thin set. It will cost slightly more than an average thin set, but it is significantly stronger and will last longer.
You will need to purchase screws. You will use screws to attach the Hardi Backer to the plywood base. The screws should be no more than 1 inch long. A 1 inch drywall screw will work for this application. Purchase several hundred screws as you will need a lot of them.
You will need to purchase a construction adhesive. This adhesive will be used to attach the plywood to your cabinets and to attach the trim pieces or moldings to the edge of your countertop. You will need at least 5 caulk gun sized tubes for this job. I recommend a polyurethane construction adhesive for its strength, waterproof qualities, and relatively quick cure times.
You will also need to purchase grout for this project. Most granite countertops are grouted with a grout that matches the tile color as closely as possible. You will need to use unsanded grout due to the small joint sizes and the chance of scratching the polished finish is you used sanded grout. You will only need a few pounds of grout to complete this task.
The final product that you will need to select is a wood molding for the edge of your countertop. There are several ways to finish the exposed edge of your granite countertop but a wood molding offers simplicity, a great contrasting look, and is relatively inexpensive compared to other options. For your wood molding you will need to purchase a molding that is at least 2 1/4 inches high. This height allows the molding to cover the exposed edge of the plywood, cement backer board, and the granite tile.
I recommend that you select a hardwood molding for its durability. A pine molding or MDF molding will not hold up to the abuse that the edge of your countertops will see on a daily basis. Calculate how many feet of molding your project requires and add an additional 10% waste to your measurement. Be sure to hand pick each piece of molding and inspect it closely. You will need to select a finishing method for this molding. I recommend leaving it natural and using water based polyurethane for protection, but you may choose to stain the molding, or even paint it. The choice is yours.
Finally, you will need various tools for this project.
I will give a brief run down of the specialty tools needed and disregard items such as screwdrivers. You will need a ¼ inch square notched trowel to apply the thin set, a rubber grout float, a table saw or circular saw, a wet saw for cutting tile, a container for mixing the thin set in, several rolls of painter’s tape, a cordless drill, sandpaper ranging from 100 grit to 220 grit, a router or jigsaw or hacksaw blade to cut out the sink opening, and a grout sponge. Along the way, you will need other tools, but most will be common household tools.
Now that you have all of your products and tools on hand to install your granite tile countertops you will need to determine how to lay out your project and for advise on the layout and design of your countertop please refer to my article “Granite Tile Countertops Layout and Design”