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How to install a countertop

Are you a jack-of-all-trades? When it comes to kitchen remodeling, do you strap on the tool belt and prefer to handle business yourself? Most DIY results are sweat-filled triumphs . . . until it comes to replacing your countertop.

Replacing a countertop can be problematic for even the most skilled handyman. Of the few things in life demanding perfection, the level of your countertop is one of them. Even a slight incline in your new countertop’s surface can lead to massive problems. Here are a few tips to make sure that your countertop installation doesn’t get the best of you.

The Right Tools

Without the right tools, your countertop renovation is doomed from the get-go. If you are working with post-form laminate countertop, the correct tools make all of the difference. To be successful, you will need the following:

  • Screwdriver
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Belt sander
  • Level
  • Caulk gun
  • Wrench
  • Wood glue
  • Scribing tool
  • Plumber’s putty

Depending on the type of countertop you are installing (and whether or not it is attached to your sink) you may also need additional plumbing and specialized carpentry tools. You may have to ask the seller of the countertop about any special tools or materials needed.

The Basic Steps

No two countertop installations are identical. Be sure to do your research before beginning your installation: ask questions to the seller of your countertop, watch an example installation online, and read installation guides. Be sure to take exact measurements and draw a sketch of what the final product should look like beforehand. While each countertop has its unique tendencies, your installation will likely follow these steps:

  • Create a blueprint: make exact measurements. Mark these measurements and cut lines on the countertop.
  • Remove the old countertop and sink: start by detaching all piping. Next, remove the faucet. Take out the sink and you’ll be ready to remove the countertop. This will entail unscrewing and prying.
  • Scribe your countertop: pre-drill any screw holes. Make sure your countertop is a perfect fit by scribing any excessive material. Be sure to only take off a little of a time—you can’t add cut off countertop back on.
  • Attach the countertop: now that your countertop fits perfectly, join the miters. Use caulking by the wall seams. Attach the underface with wood glue and screws (if applicable).
  • Make the sink cut-out: cut out a hole for your sink. It is best to cut a hole that is too small and gradually widen it to avoid overcutting.
  • Install the sink: reattach the sink, faucet, and plumbing.
  • Attach backsplashes: this usually requires wood glue and caulking.