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Unread 01-22-2004, 04:59 PM   #1
cletusmavel
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Granite tile counter top with OG moulding

Installing a granite tile counter top with granite OG moulding

I just finished installing 30 sq ft of granite tile with 2x12 inch edge moulding on a simple L-shaped kitchen counter top and the end result is quite beautiful (if I do say so myself). Before starting the project, I read every do-it-yourself manual and website that I could find, but naturally I learned a lot during the installation process, so I thought I’d pass some of these ideas along to other do-it-yourselfers.

Purchasing The Tile:

My initial plan was to have the moulding fabricated by a professional and I was prepared to pay up to $15.00 per foot. The contractor that I talked to said that he could make the moulding by sandwiching 3/8” granite tiles and then routing the edges, but that I should be prepared to see some lines in the face of the moulding. I didn’t find this acceptable, so he told me that there are some manufacturers that make 2” granite moulding. I had not seen this at any tile showroom, so he sent me off to the Emser Tile & Natural Stone showroom and they had about 10 different granite tile styles including matching 2” OG moulding. In addition, they even had outside corners available in the OG moulding. I understand that other companies also distribute similar products, but I was not able to find any.

I called my local tile outlet to see how much it would cost to order the tiles and granite and moulding from Emser, and I was quoted $6.25 for each granite tile and $17.00 for each moulding. The contractor said that he could order this for me at a much cheaper price, so I ended up buying the granite from him at a substantial savings … $3.75 per tile and $10.00 for each moulding, plus $6.00 for one outside corner. So the contractor made money on the deal without having to do any work and I saved a boatload of money.

Tools:

Believe it or not, those wet tile saws that you can buy at Home Depot for less than $100.00 work quite well when cutting granite tile. But since the diamond blade only extends a little over an inch above the bed, it is not possible to make miter cuts in the OG moulding with this kind of saw. So, I bought a $40.00 diamond blade saw for my table saw and made all my cuts dry without any problem.

It took me a while to figure out a way to hold the moulding against the counter top while the adhesive cured, but I finally hit upon the idea of using clamps and shims to apply pressure and hold the moulding. I bought 4 wood clamps, the kind that has 2 parallel wood jaws with 2 opposing screws. I’ll describe how I used these later.

Surface Preparation:

This is probably the most important part of the job. Since I was using the 2x12 OG moulding (which actually measured 2-3/8 x 12), I had to use two ¾” pieces of plywood plus the cement board for the counter top so the moulding would not interfere with opening of drawers and cabinet doors. I found out the hard way the joint between adjacent pieces of plywood must be placed over the sidewall of one of the cabinets, otherwise, it would not have been possible to get a perfectly flat surface for the cement board. I glued the cement board to the plywood and then screwed them together with galvanized decking screws. Be sure to predrill and countersink the holes for the screws. I then cut and applied cement board to the edges making sure that the uncut manufactured edge of the cement board was perfectly aligned with the cement board on the counter top. Then I filled all cracks and low spots with liquid concrete filler.

Tile Layout:

Since the counter top is deeper than the width of 2 tiles, I had to cut a lot of tile strip for the final course against the backsplash. I had considered setting them on a diagonal, but that would have required even more tile cutting and would have produced a lot of waste. I’d read about granite tile counter tops that were butted together without a grout line, but as I laid the tiles out on the counter top, it became obvious that the L-shape of the counter top was not a perfect 90 degrees and that some tiles were bigger than others which made butt joints impossible. So instead I used round toothpicks as spacers for the grout joints. The only hard thing about laying the tile was trying to decide where to begin. Because I had 2 mouldings with miter cuts I finally decided that the first course on the inside corner was the logical starting point. That way I could align the tiles so that they would be square with both sides of the L-shape. It also just worked out that the tile joints under the sink came at the mid-point of a tile. I used a natural stone and marble adhesive that I bought from Lowe’s to afix the tile. The only part that was tricky was ensuring that the first course of tile was lined up perfectly with the edge of the counter top. I did this by holding a piece of moulding up against the counter top edge while I set each edge tile in place. The one piece of advice that I can give you that will save you lots of time and trouble is to cover all the tiles with plastic whenever you stop working. I made the mistake of leaving some tiles uncovered, and when my wife fried up some chicken, the cooking oil splattered on the tiles leaving dark stains that were very hard to remove. I had to use gallons of acetone, paper towels and plastic wrap to get out all the oil stains.
One other thing about laying out your tile is that you have to remember that “shaving” a side of granite tile with your diamond blade is almost impossible. This is because the blade has a tendency to bend slightly whenever you apply hard side pressure. I found that I needed to remove at least 3/16 inch of tile in order to get a straight cut. Lastly, make all your cuts with the polished side down.

Applying OG Moulding:

This is not difficult once you figure out how to hold the moulding in place. I attached 2 wood clamps to the lip of the counter top about 1 inch in from end of each piece of moulding. This allows you to view the level of the moulding with the abutted tile. The height of the moulding was actually about ¼ inch greater than the thickness of the counter top, so I used a ¼ slice of tile as a spacer between the lower jaw of the wood clamp and the bottom lip of the counter top. I also used a wood shim between the upper jaw of the clamp and the counter top, recessed about ½ inch toward the rear of the tile so the shim would not interfere with the height adjustment of the moulding. I applied about 1/16 inch thickness of adhesive on the back of the moulding, but I did not apply any adhesive to the top 3/8 of the moulding. This was to ensure that no adhesive would squeeze out of the top when I mashed the moulding in place. It was very difficult to remove the dried adhesive that you cannot see underneath the clamps. The height of the moulding was adjust by putting shims between the moulding and the lower jaw of the clamp. Pressure was applied to the moulding by putting shims between the moulding and the screw of the clamp. If my words do not paint and adequate visual image, then send me an email to me at cletusmavel@yahoo.com and I’ll send you a drawing.

Backsplash:

For the backsplash, I just ripped three 4” pieces out of a granite tile and adhered them directly to the drywall. The contractor advised me not to rest the backsplash directly on the tile because the vibration from the garbage disposal would eventually loosen them. So I again used round toothpicks as spacers and then applied tub and tile caulking in the space.
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Unread 01-22-2004, 06:27 PM   #2
bbcamp
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Thanks for sharing your project experience with us! You've found out first hand what we've been saying to those trying for a "groutless" look with granite: Don't!

We're kinda new to the "glue the backerboard to the plywood and screw them down together" concept. not normally done that way. Where did you hear of it?

Can you post a few pictures of your project? We really like pictures!


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Unread 01-23-2004, 07:53 AM   #3
Steven Hauser
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Did you kerf the plywood before you installed it?

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Unread 01-23-2004, 05:11 PM   #4
John Bridge
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Cletus,

Make all your cuts with the shiny side down? Gotta argue on that one. Keep the shiny side up, folks.
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Unread 01-23-2004, 06:48 PM   #5
cletusmavel
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Money side up?

I made both wet and dry cuts during this project and I found that the granite crystals became dislodged on the UP side. This produced ragged cuts on the up edges. This was particularly true when cutting inch thick OG moulding. Also, it was easier to write with a magic marker on the unpolished side. I guess everyone should do their own tests to determine which gives the cleanest cuts.
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Unread 01-23-2004, 07:02 PM   #6
cletusmavel
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After thought

I presume most professionals use a radial arm type saw, and in this case, I would agree with you that the cut should be made with the polished side up. However, I used table type saws and got much better results with the polished side down. This was especially true when reaching the end of the cut ... the tile usually broke before the cut was finished, and always on the up side.

Cheers,
Cletus
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Unread 01-23-2004, 07:07 PM   #7
John Bridge
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Hi Cletus, Don't take me wrong. It's just that a lot of people read what's written around here.

You are making dry cuts on a table saw, which is definitely not the preferred way of doing things. And you are correct in that most pros are using overhead blades. Please consider, though, that the cutting of tiles with circular saw blades has been going on for a lot of years. We can't reinvent the wheel on this one.
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Unread 01-23-2004, 08:17 PM   #8
cletusmavel
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I agree with you ... but then again, I'm cheap! Otherwise, I'd have had a contractor install a solid granite counter top. Anyway, here's a picture of the moulding being installed.
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Unread 01-23-2004, 08:20 PM   #9
cletusmavel
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And yet another picture, before grouting and backsplash completed. Also, the oil stains hadn't been removed yet.
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Unread 01-24-2004, 07:40 PM   #10
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Great looking job, Cletus. The edge trims really do the trick.
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Unread 01-24-2004, 09:07 PM   #11
cx
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Clamps and shims, the universal helper.


Nice job, Cletus.
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