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Construct a tile countertop

  • Difficulty: hammer hammer hammer
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert
  • Completion Time : 5 Days

Of the many different types of countertop materials available, solid hard surfaces are among the most durable and expensive. An economical option that can create very similar beautiful results is that of a tile countertop. Constructing a countertop with granite, marble, or ceramic tile is a wonderful economical option to the solid countertop material. Within a little less time than a full week, the new countertop can easily be constructed and cured. The type of tile and even the grout color can vary greatly. Think about how a tile countertop can be an asset for the kitchen. One may consider adding a new backsplash tile at the same time.


Tools and materials required

Your kitchen transformation starts with a good plan. Download our planning guide and leave nothing to chance.


  • Hammer
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Caulk gun
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Bucket
  • Chalk line
  • Nippers
  • Level
  • Drill bit set
  • Framing square
  • Grout float
  • Jigsaw
  • Straightedge
  • Utility knife
  • Taping knife
  • Tile saw (rental)
  • 1/4" notched trowel
  • Staple gun
  • Permanent marker
  • Pencil
  • Paint roller
  • Sponge
  • Cotton towel
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Tarps


  • Tile
  • Cement board
  • Thin-set mortar (specific type based on tile)
  • Grout (specific type based on tile)
  • Grout sealer
  • 1-5/8" screws
  • 1/4" cement board screws
  • Construction adhesive
  • Fiberglass mesh tape
  • 1" Construction staples
  • Tile Sealant
  • Pigmented caulking

Before Assembly

  • Make sure to plan to have the kitchen “shut down” for a few days while the construction ensues.

  • When purchasing the tile and supplies, consider purchasing extra in case there are a few mistaken cuts made during construction.

  • The homeowner may need to purchase a new sink that has a “tile rim” so that it can be coordinated easily with the new tile countertop.

  • Prepare the kitchen by removing the old countertop, cleaning the wall behind the countertop, and measuring the size of the cabinets.

  • Carefully select the size of the screws that will attach the countertop’s plywood to the wall so that they are not too long. This helps to protect the plumbing and wiring that may be inside the wall cavity from unintentional punctures.

  • When using a trowel with mortar, it is important to make sure the type and size of trowel is matched to the task and materials.

  • When setting the plywood base onto the top of the cabinets, remember that the front edge needs to be exact for the tile border but the rear edge does not have to be exact. The backsplash will cover up gaps at the back edge.

  • Cement board is an excellent underlayment material choice for tile countertops because it protects the plywood from moisture damage.

  • Plan the tile pattern to avoid small, thin pieces if possible. Shift the pattern one way or the other if needed.

  • When planning the backsplash tiles, make sure the grout lines for the backsplash are spaced far apart from the countertop tile so that it does not appear as if the two surfaces have grout lines that are “almost” lined up. Ideally, offset the grout lines by one half of a tile.

  • Do not cut all the tile out after planning for the tile and before actually setting the tile. The mortar bed can shift the sizes slightly.

  • Grout widths are typically 3/16" wide. Tile spacers may be needed if the homeowner prefers them over “eye-balling” the spacings.

  • Score-and-snap tile cutters are not likely to be useful for a project like this tile countertop. We recommend that the homeowner either rent or purchase a wet saw for the job.

  • Remember there is a difference between mortar and grout. Purchase the recommended mortar and grout for the type of tile used.

  • Applying a tile sealant to porous tile before grouting helps to protect the tile from the grout sticking to the tile.

  • Do not wait for the grout to set before cleaning the excess film from the tile.

  • The drying times for sealants, mortar, and grout will vary a bit depending on the humidity levels in the home.


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Helpful Information

White ceramic tile countertop with a wooden edge.
Construct a tile countertop