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Laminate Countertops Q&A

Expert advice on how to install tile over laminate countertops

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Q: We just bought a house with bright orange laminate countertops. Can we install tile over this countertop? What kind of supplies do we need?

A: According to the pros, the correct method for installing tile is to remove the old countertop and replace it with 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch plywood, then add a layer of 1/2-inch cement board, and use tile adhesive to glue your tiles in place. Grout and then seal.

However, many homeowners (and even some professional tile setters) do install tile over laminate and have good results. But you should consider some issues because laminate counters were not designed as a base for tile. First, their base is usually made from particleboard, which swells when wet. If you nail into your laminate before adding the tile or if an edge of the particleboard is exposed to moisture under the tile, you run the risk of ruining the foundation for your tile. Plus, the laminate was designed so things wouldn't stick to it, which is why dried ketchup wipes up easily.

If you choose to install tile over the laminate, sand the surface and then use an adhesive, such as latex-modified mortar, to glue down the tile. Remove the sink before you start, and set it down over the new tile.

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