Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.
If you plan on installing your countertops yourself, there are a few tools you may need to find, first. Here’s a handy guide on countertop installation.
Homeowners’ spending on home improvements will hit over $350 billion dollars in 2018. The most popular renovations are kitchens and bathrooms. These also offer the biggest return on investment.
Sometimes a paint job and new countertops are all a kitchen needs for a bright new look. And doing the job yourself saves big bucks, as long as you do it right.
Are you installing countertops yourself? You’ll need a few tools first.
Read on for a handy guide on countertop installation.
Granite is a rock that’s formed from a crystallization of magma under the Earth’s surface. It’s composed of quartz, feldspar, mica, and minerals. The minerals provide the different colors seen in the beautiful grain of the rock.
There are a lot of great reasons to use granite, though some people prefer other stones like quartz.
Granite lasts a lifetime and has no harmful chemicals. It’s heat resistant and doesn’t scratch easily. In fact, it’s so hard, it’ll dull your kitchen knives if you cut right on the surface.
Another great thing about granite countertops is that they’re low maintenance. They need sealing because they’re porous, but most companies seal the granite for you.
Most sealants last about 10 years. When it’s time to reseal, it’s an easy DIY job.
The average cost of granite countertops runs around $3,000 – $4,000 depending on the size of the kitchen. Granite is available in a wide range of options. It can run from $35 per square foot all the way up to $400 per square foot for the more exotic options.
Discover more about granite here.
Tools of the Trade
You’ll need tools and materials if you’re doing your own granite countertop installation:
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- Caulking gun
- Putty knife
Use caution with power tools. Always wear safety glasses when working on a project. Also, use hearing protection when using power tools.
Make sure you have all materials before starting. It’s no fun running off to the store in the middle of a project. You’ll need:
- Dry-cut segmented diamond blade
- Seam filler – hardener and resin
- Polishing compound
- Polishing pad and stone
- Blue masking tape
Do-It-Yourself Countertop Installation
If you’re tackling this yourself, the first job is finding a granite company. They can do the majority of the granite cutting for you. They’ll also shape and machine the sink and faucet openings.
You’ll have some cutting and seaming work, but it’s not too tricky. Make sure you’ve got a diamond blade.
For an initial price quote, bring the company a sketch of the kitchen layout. Provide all the necessary dimensions. Make sure your measurements are exact. Note the type of edge you want.
Someone at the company will mark the sketch to show where the seams should go.
If you can’t find a nearby granite company, you can send in the information.
Laying the Plywood
On top of the cabinets, you’ll lay a 3/4-inch thick plywood. This gives support to the granite. It also offers clearance for drawers and doors underneath a bull-nose edge. The plywood should be flush with the front edge of the cabinets.
Use screws to attach the wood to the cabinets. Avoid splitting the hardwood frame by drilling a pilot hole first, and center the screw in the frame.
Installation of Granite Countertops
Never work with granite slabs alone! Some slabs weight over 200 pounds. They’ll break if dropped, and you could be injured. Store the slabs in an upright position in a safe place until you need them.
Use kraft paper and make a template of the countertop. It’s much easier moving a template around than the slab and avoids scuffing your granite.
Use a scribing knife and circular saw for a perfect fit if the corners of the kitchen aren’t square.
Cutting the Sink Hole
Once the granite is set in place, trace through the sink hole onto the plywood sub-counter underneath. Use a carpenter’s pencil and be exact. When finished, take the granite back off the counter.
Using a drill with a spade bit, make a pilot hole into the plywood. Cut out the sink hole using a jigsaw. Cut the hole 1/8th of an inch bigger than the line. When you’re done cutting the hole, put in the sink.
Put cardboard over the sink and lay the granite slabs back on top. The cardboard protects the sink.
Joining the Seams
Adjust 1-1/4-inch screws from underneath the countertop to raise and lower the granite. Use a level on top as you adjust the screws. Once the countertops are level, stop adjusting the screws.
Lay down silicone dabs around the perimeter of the cabinet at 6 to 12-inch intervals. Place caulking around the sink rim.
Apply more caulking on top of the rim of the sink for waterproofing. Place the granite slab back on the counter.
Finish the Seams
Use blue masking tape along the seam lines to protect the granite. Put a small amount of dye into the seam filler matching the color of the granite. Mix well with your putty knife.
Create some lighter and darker-colored filler to blend into the seam.
Add hardener to the resin.
Place a neutral color of resin mix in the seam first. Dab small amounts and smooth with the putty knife. Apply some of the lighter color in places for a natural granite look. Use the darkest color after the light.
Once you’re done, strip off the masking tape. Don’t allow the putty to dry on the tape.
After 30 minutes to an hour when the putty is dry, smooth with a seam stone. If the granite isn’t sealed, apply sealer when you’re done.
Enjoy Your Countertops!
Now that you’ve done your own countertop installation, sit back, relax, and enjoy! You’ve installed a beautiful natural countertop that’ll last many years. Remember to clean your new countertops with granite cleaner.
Installing your own countertops is challenging but it’s rewarding and saves you money. Granite countertops are a value-add to any kitchen.
Looking for more great DIY advice? Find some great DIY projects and tool reviews here.