New laminate countertops are an affordable
way to update an old kitchen. Today’s laminate tops are stylish, available in several colors,
AND can be installed by the average DIYer. Here are a few things to check before buying
your top. First, measure your cabinet depth. To check
length, measure along the back wall for accuracy. Account for any overhangs, too, typically
about ¾- of an inch to an inch. Next, check backsplash height. Your new top
will need to clear any outlets and window trim. Also, you’ll need to finish wall areas
that will show. Lastly, check to see if your walls are fairly
straight with a square and level. A little bow is ok. You can trim the countertop to
fit. Some cases might require a custom top. If you not sure, we can do the install for
you. Visit Lowes.com/Installation for details. If you haven’t already removed the old countertop
do it now. Shut off and disconnect the electric and plumbing.
Take off the sink brackets and pull it out. To take off the counter, detach it from the
walls and cabinets. Pull a bit and it should come loose. If you’re installing new cabinets
like we are, this is the time to do it. Then, once you have your new counter, you can cut
the top to length. Mask the finished side where the cut line will be. Flip the counter
over and mark the length. DOUBLE CHECK your measurements.
Attach a guide to keep your cut straight. Make the cut on the BACKSIDE using a saw with
a fine-tooth blade, then file any rough spots. Only file toward the backing. Some countertops
require build up strips to help lift and support, but check your directions. If the cabinet
drawers won’t clear the counter’s front edge, you definitely need them. Hold them
on the underside of the countertop and attach with nails. About every 2-feet and 2-inches
from the ends should do. Next, check the fit. Run a piece of tape along the top of the backsplash.
Set the counter in place, getting the mitered corner as tight as possible, and tighten the
miter bolts. You’ll most likely notice a gap along the wall. Take a compass, set it
to the width of the widest gap, and scribe a line along the back edge. Go ahead and take
off the counters, and remove the excess with a belt sander. Use a file to take off any
burrs then check the fit. Complete the look by adding return splashes where the counter
meets walls and end caps on the counter overhangs. Attach the build up strips, hold the piece
on, and iron. You can trim the edges with a file. At this
point you’re ready for the sink, and rangetop if you have one. Some sinks come with a template.
If you don’t have one, set the top in place, center up the sink, and trace the outline.
Your cut out will be a ¼- to ½-inch inside this line. Place some masking tape around
the edges to protect the top. Drill a few small starter holes in the corners, and cut
out the piece—don’t let it fall. Then file any burrs. It’s smart to add some extra
support near the edges of the cutouts, especially along the back. To secure the top, you can
drill through the corner brackets, or add angle brackets just below the build up strips.
Next, position the countertop, starting with the longest piece. Apply the recommended adhesive
at the miter, and snug the miter bolts. Tap the seam with scrap wood and hammer to get
it even. Tighten the bolts all the way and clean up any excess glue.
Now use #8 screws to secure the top to the brackets. Remember—use short screws. Don’t
be one of those people who drills through their nice, new countertop. Finish up by setting
your sink and rangetop, and applying silicone around the edges, Caulk along the back wall
too. Once you’ve connected the plumbing, reattach the cabinet doors, and drawers, and admire
your work. See what a new countertop can do for a kitchen? For more DIY projects and inspiration,
visit Lowes.com/HowTo or click subscribe. Now that you’re countertops are done, learn
how to install engineered hardwood floors.