So you’ve finally come around to remodeling your kitchen. You’ve picked out your designs, calculated your estimates and overcome that vague sense of dread that comes with the prospect of destroying a part of your home in order to make it better. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start the dirty work.
If you’ve decided to feature granite countertops in your remodel, – and why wouldn’t you? – but have never installed granite before, refer to this quick install guide for help with the basics of counter installation. Without the right tools, it can be a frustrating process. But a little artifice, perseverance and plain old elbow grease (which is hard to find in stores but can be ordered by some online retailers) will guide you through the task and towards new kitchen nirvana.
For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to assume that you have already selected, purchased, measured and cut your granite. That way we can get right into the actual installation. Let’s go!
Step One – Shut off plumbing and remove any fixtures (sink, etc.)
Before you start tearing away parts of your kitchen, make sure you’ve shut off the water in the house. Then, begin disconnecting the plumbing underneath the sink so that when you remove the sink and any other fixtures, they don’t bring any pipes with them. You can loosen a sink by using a crowbar or ply bar to break through any caulk before lifting the sink right out of the counter.
Step Two – Raze the Countertops!
This may be the most difficult/cathartic part of the process. Most countertops are glued to their wooden foundations and in order to pry them off, you’ll need some tools. The wide putty knife can be used to effectively wedge down behind the portion of the counter that rests against the wall. Once you have some leverage, you can hammer a pry bar into the space and pull that piece of the counter off, without damaging the walls.
The actual counter will be a bit more difficult. Most laminate countertops are affixed with screws and glue, so you’ll have to hunt down those screws, and that could mean spending some time under the sink and in the cabinets. In my experience, it’s best to use some power tools here; these screws can be pretty stubborn, and a simple screwdriver might drive you to the depths of insanity. Once you’ve removed the screws, use the same technique to break the glue as explained above.
Step Three – Shut Off Power and Remove Appliances
The final step of prep is shutting off electricity and gas to the appliances and pulling them out to make way. If you have a gas range stove, make sure it’s off and simply pull it out from the wall (Tip: lay a blanket down and transfer the stove to it, so you don’t scratch your kitchen floor up). If you have a dishwasher, you’ll need to remove it to get at screws that are likely keeping the countertops attached. Dismantle those screws and remove any remaining traces of the old countertops. Things are about to get interesting.
Step Four – Install the Granite!
The moment we’ve all been waiting for… is here! Unless you have a means to pick up and transport the granite yourself, it will likely be delivered by a team of people who are capable of installing the stone. Granite tops, when cut and ready to install, can weigh into the hundreds depending on the extent of remodeling you plan on. If you are doing this all by yourself, at least have some friends help you bring the granite into your home.
If you haven’t cut the sinkhole out yet, you’ll have to do that with dry-fitted granite and a jigsaw. Every sink is different; some need to go in before the granite is laid on top, and vice versa.
Once everything is fitted and ready to go, begin applying half-dollar dollops of glue on the plywood, which will serve as the new foundation for the granite.
At this point you’ll want to caulk the seams so everything holds together. Begin this by placing masking tape on either side of the seams you will be caulking. To fill in the seams between the granite pieces, mix some polyester-based resin with some color in order to match the paste with the stone. Mix in some hardener, and then you’ll have about five minutes to apply the mixture to the seams before it hardens completely. Remove the masking tape so the mix doesn’t dry onto it.
Let everything dry for about 30 minutes and then smooth the seams out with a seam stone.
Et Voila! A new kitchen! Of course, there are more than four steps to installing granite countertops, and you’re likely to run into one or more problems in the process. Since every project is different, I can’t troubleshoot for you, unfortunately, but follow these basic guidelines and refer to any user experiences on this or another site in order to get one step closer to beautifying your kitchen and losing those lame countertops you’ve had since college.
Thomas Stone is a home improvement blogger for Sears and other prestigious brands. In his free time he enjoys DIY home improvement projects.