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Household Dilemma of the Month: July
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Can you help us to solve this fellow viewers household dilemma?

If you have suggestions, please reply below. We'll pick a select number of replies to post and one of them may be yours!

This month's dilemma:

I have very old countertops in my kitchen and really cannot afford to get new ones.  I thought about using small tiles to cover the entire counter surface but how would I prepare the surface and what type of adhesive would be used?  Can this be done reasonably and without a whole lot of pain in the neck work?

Asked by Elizabeth, KY


I am about to do this project. I would take down the old counter, and put up ply wood and cover the ply wood with the tile. - Jessi , CT

I had the same problems with my cabinets. I covered them with self adhesive covering (they sell it at the Family Dollar stores it works wonders) and any time you feel like you want to change the color, just peel away and buy more. You might spend ten bucks at the most. - Wilma Thomas

The plywood is a great idea, however be sure to use a very good grade of it. Or, I would think that taking some good old fashioned degreaser and cleaning the surface and then sanding it just enough to scuff the wax off and degrease one more time and put your tile down.

But if you have some swelling or warping on your counter top the plywood would probably be your best bet! GOOD LUCK! - Syndii, TX

First of all you need to make sure the countertop is solidly attached to the cabinets and or walls.  Is it level or buckling in spots? If it is not level, then you will need to replace it with either plywood sheeting (cut to fit the area) or a new countertop.

You mention that you want to cover the existing counter with tiles. You will need to start with a smooth and level surface, which you have thoroughly cleaned.  You also may need to lightly sand the surface so the adhesive will adhere.  Any of the home improvement stores will have tile adhesive and which one you choose depends on the tiles you choose.  The adhesive is applied to the surface with a toothed trowel, the tiles are set into the adhesive and "seated".  You will also need to grout the tiles after they are set. then you will need to seal the grout. As the tiles will raise the surface of the counter, consideration needs to be made with edging along the wall and around the sink if this applies.  It would be a good idea to visit Lowe's, Home Depot or Menard's and look at the books available on home improvement and ASK LOTS of questions from the sales clerks there. Or check your library on books for Home improvement. They will steer you in the right direction.

Another option for materials is to check out the recycling stores in your area (ours is called Habitat for Humanity ReStore) for used countertops, boxes of tiles, or what ever you decide to use.

If all else fails, find a reputable contractor who can handle your request.

So with all that in mind, good luck. - Terri, IA

On a recent do-it-yourself show, they showed that you can paint countertops if you first sand to remove shiny surface, clean well, and prime. Haven't tried it, but may in the near future. - Carolyn, TX

New countertops are not expensive if you buy the pre-made kind.  The down side is that they are only offered in a few different color schemes, but save a bundle.  We recently redid our kitchen countertops with the pre-made for around $200 (supplies included).

Whatever you do remember not to demolish the countertop you remove as you can use it as a template for the new countertop.  More often than not walls are not 90 degrees and the previous person has already fine tuned the old countertop to fit.

When making any cut (if you buy pre-made) remember to cut from the back if using any jigsaw or circular saw. - Troy Schmidt, KY

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