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Unread 07-01-2022, 07:51 AM   #1
joea
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Using tile for counter tops?

I've been mulling over replacing Formica kitchen counter tops with something for years now. The standard solid surface materials have gotten to a price point that causes me discomfort to consider, being a "frugal" semi-retired curmudgeon stereotype.

Also considered those "paint on" resurfacing products, but none of them seem to guarantee a long lasting result.

Began consider Tile as something I could manage myself at a reasonable cost.

Searched for "Tile Countertops" a bit, but results were not great, lots of hits, but few dealing with countertops directly. Mostly backsplash, showers, floors.

If I were to do it, I suppose I would have to tear off the existing formica/plywood and start fresh. If so, would I be looking at new plywood (5/8?) with Hardi or similar over it? Would specific waterproofing be required, nice, overkill?

Porcelain (traffic rated?), or natural stone tile? Addled minds need to know.
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Unread 07-01-2022, 08:00 AM   #2
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Joe, I can recall when I was building new houses back in the 80s and 90s that tile countertops were all the rage. Even the use of some types of tiles I recommended strongly against. Everybody wanted tile countertops.

I've since remodeled some of my houses and lots of houses built by other folks and I've been asked to remove many tile countertops in favor of granite or other solid-surface material. Not once, though, have I ever been asked to remove any other type of countertop in favor of a new tile countertop.

Don't know what that tells you, if anything.

I can tell you that all the tile tops I've ever done were over plywood (never less than nominal 3/4" and a mortar bed. Can be done other ways, but that's how I learned and that's how I would do one today were I asked to do one. And only with a porcelain tile.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-01-2022, 08:40 AM   #3
Just In Tile LLC
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Like CX has mentioned Joe, when I started the trade we did tons of countertops, I personally have tiled all my bathroom vanity's and kitchen countertop.

I still like the look of a tiled vanity that matches the bathroom. Kitchens I do prefer solid countertops but I'm also frugal so that's why I went tile so I didn't have to look at my laminate countertops anymore. I bought a 15"x30" black satin porcelain and mitered the edge/apron. The larger tile I chose to minimize grout joints, it looks nice but I will eventually have solid when we redo cabinets.
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Unread 07-01-2022, 09:30 AM   #4
Tool Guy - Kg
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Tiles countertops can save you money, but you’ll pay for it 5x over in extra slow labor time. And the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest amount of lippage results in noisy clinking as you slide glass-hard plates over the joints. And many folks don’t enjoy the extra thick look of most tiled counters.

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Unread 07-01-2022, 09:55 AM   #5
Dave Gobis
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Got tile countertops on all my counters. 30 yeas, no cracks, no regrout, no sealing and they are all just fine. Double layer plywood screwed every 6", a premium thin set, standard cement grout tooled with a wooden dowel. Kitchen tile is 6x6 wall tile with sink rail. I did consider solid surface, but I am a tile guy.
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Unread 07-01-2022, 06:35 PM   #6
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https://youtu.be/E7WJvsaBAu0

Some tile lend themselves better for a countertop than others. A flat surface is critical, and flat tiles, too.
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Unread 07-01-2022, 09:55 PM   #7
joea
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Thanks for all the tips and comments. Food for thought. I was especially intrigued by the Kerdi board idea and seeing the edging in use. Is it suitable for "under counter" sink mounts without a great deal of extra fuss? I imagine it might be a challenge.

No doubt "solid surface" is my first choice, but, means and comfort is another. I've had quotes in the 8-10K dollar range, when they bother to quote at all.

One consideration is the quality of the tile. Not sure Lowes and HD will have the "good stuff". I think the last "pure tile" place closed up several years ago, so may have to search a while.
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Unread 07-01-2022, 10:01 PM   #8
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A first quality granite tile may be in the $10/sqft range and higher, depending on the actual stone. Natural stone tile are ground very flat and to dimension, so you can do narrow grout joints, and if you do a good job setting and groutig, a nearly perfectly flat surface.

Adding the trim will add some, as will the backer (in the KerdiBoard), but it's less by a fair amount if you're not paying for labor than solid surfacing.

Way back when, the stone fabricator charged $350 to do a sink cutout with a square edge, and edging, profiling, and polishing the slab edge was anywhere from $8 and up per inch, depending on the shape, making one of the profiles look really cheap.
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Unread 07-02-2022, 07:45 AM   #9
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Don't think I'd ever want to go back to a tiled countertop. Since you are so frugal, have you ever thought of a laminate countertop kit? They have a nice profiled edge, that certainly has the look of a solid surface.
https://www.homedepot.com/b/Kitchen-...vZc3bgZ1z1bygt
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Unread 07-02-2022, 09:51 AM   #10
joea
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Those I've seen don't look much different than the Formica I have now. I've never seen them in other than rectangular sections, I pretty much have a continuous U shaped countertop. No doubt that contributes to the breathtaking quotes. When I get them.

Certainly I would much prefer a solid surface, granite, quartz, or even "corian", and might even "bite the bullet" on cost, but so far, my experience over the last few years trying to get quotes, a firm price, references, etc, has been irritating. Everyone has more work than they can handle and feel no need to deal with anyone not ready to cut a check then and there.
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Unread 07-19-2022, 05:45 PM   #11
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A little late, I though I had pics on here, but I guess not. So, there are some here:
https://www.realtor.com/realestatean...il/M2996687834
Sold the house six years ago, so I don't know if they help up, but they were sturdy. My recollection is that there were two layers of plywood, maybe 1/2 and 3/8 (or both 1/2) and then 1//4 Hardibacker, followed by the tile. The edge was a Blanke profile, which worked pretty well. The apron was a pain, and I would probably have done it differently if I had known! I was really happy with how the border on the bar came out, some work with oak and a router. There was an unanticipated dip at the end you can't see, but I hid it pretty well.

There were a few cases of lippage, but not too extreme. On the whole, it was way better than the formica it replaced, but it was a fair bit or work!
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Unread 07-19-2022, 06:17 PM   #12
joea
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jlbos83 - Looks good. What tile did you use? Any details about grout, etc? I had to look up Blanke profile.
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Unread 07-21-2022, 04:04 PM   #13
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It was a "relatively" inexpensive granite, Tan Brown, perhaps? The grout joints were about 1/8" (as I recall), grout was a black unsanded. I might use epoxy if I was to do it again. Getting a layout that worked took some staring and thinking, to make the corners and edges work out in an attractive way. My recollection on the skirt is that I used the profile to cover the edge of the surface, and then near to butted the skirt against it, and filled the gap with grout. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot cheaper than getting actual edge pieces made.
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Unread 07-21-2022, 04:37 PM   #14
joea
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By "granite" you mean natural stone? I began calling around and did not find any locals the deal in granite.

Considered asking about epoxy, but hear that is pretty difficult to work with.

I was leaning to porcelain with a thin grout line, with any eye toward least maintenance. Best Tile is the only "pro shop" around here, that I know of and viewing online they seem to have a reasonable selection.
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Unread 07-21-2022, 04:55 PM   #15
jlbos83
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Yes, it was a natural stone. Something like this. We didn't get it at HD or Lowes, it was at a tile/flooring store.
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