Q: The countertop in our upstairs bathroom has an average finish, and I would like to cover it with small ceramic tiles. Any tips?
A: Using ceramic tile for a countertop requires the proper underlayment. Countertops are subject to moisture, so 3/4-inch plywood should be used with 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch cement backer board on top to provide a stable base for the tile. If your current countertop is laminate, it is not necessary to remove it. Just add the cement backer board on top of that. If your newly tiled countertop will be subjected to makeup, morning cups of coffee, etc., keep those potential stains in mind when selecting the tile and grout.
Natural stones, such as granite, slate, and marble, are porous and need to be sealed. Porcelain tiles are durable, not porous, and are available in patterns that look like natural stone. Keep your grout lines small and to a minimum by using 8-inch or larger tiles. Then, once your grout is fully cured, seal it with a Teflon-base sealer, which keeps stains from sticking to the grout.