How To's - How to Install a Solid Surface Countertop
How to Install a Solid Surface Countertop
In this guide, we provide step-by-step instructions on how to install a solid surface countertop. Before starting, there a few important notes to consider about solid surface countertops:
- Some manufacturers require professional installation of their solid surface countertops. If you want to do it yourself, ask your distributor which brands allow home install of their product.
- The countertop installation described below is only for acrylic material. An “engineered stone” countertop like those made of quartz do require professional installation.
- You will need someone to help at some points during the process.
- Plan on at least one day for installation. Adhesives and caulk will need to be allowed to dry and set before moving onto the next step. The installation process is not difficult, but it does require time and the right tools.
Our instructions presume the following steps have already been completed:
1. Accurate measurements have been taken and provided to the manufacturer. Or you know the exact size of the pieces you will need to cut to build your countertop. Most manufacturers cut the countertops to the homeowner’s specifications.
2. The old countertop has been removed. Or, new cabinets have been installed and leveled.
3. The locations of countertop joints have any additional supports already installed.
4. Cleats, or additional supports, have been mounted in corners or open areas where cabinets are not there to support the countertop.
5. The backsplash has been removed, as in a remodel, and the wall made smooth. Or, any damage to the back wall has been repaired and sanded smooth.
Once the wall’s ready and you have the pieces of your solid surface countertop, it’s time to get started.
Tools Needed to Install a Solid Surface Countertop
The tools listed below include all that you may need during the installation. It’s best to have everything readily available so you don’t need to go searching for a tool if something comes up.
• Tape measure
• Caulk gun
• Belt sander, or orbital sander w/100, 150 and 220 grit sandpaper (Synthetic scouring pads can work to give a final, smooth finish)
• Jigsaw or router
• Circular saw
• Power drill
You may also need strips of ¾” plywood. These would be used to raise the countertop to account for thick edges that would otherwise cover cabinet drawers.
Step 1. Check for Fit.
You may have measured twice, but once you get your countertop, you need to check it again. With some help, set the countertop pieces in place. Here’s what to look for:
• Is there an overhang past the edge of the cabinets? If you wanted one, does it match your measure?
• Is the countertop flush against the wall? If not, you will need to scribe and sand it.
• Is it level?
• Does it sit at the right height?
If you need to trim an overhang, mark the line and cut with a circular saw, ideally using sharp carbide blades for a quick, clean cut.
To scribe, take a pencil flat along the wall and slide the pencil along the edge of the countertop. If you have a wider gap, you may need a compass and a pencil. Then sand the countertop to the line. Set back in place and check for flush.
Once the pieces fit snug to the wall, are level and at the correct and desired height, move on to Step 2.
Step 2. Mark Sink and Range Cut-Outs.
If you purchased a countertop with a built-in sink, you can skip this step. You may have had the pieces cut to end at free-standing ranges. If you have a countertop range or separate sink, this step is vitally important.
Mark the cutouts for the sink, range and any other appliances. Most sinks come with templates, so you can secure the template in place and trace. After tracing, check to make sure all measurements and angles are correct.
Remember the saying, ‘Measure twice, cut once.’
Step 3. Cut and Sand Marked Cut-Outs.
Drill a pilot hole on the inside of the line of the cut-out (the piece to be removed). Then you can use a jigsaw or a router to make the cut. The router will likely give you a cleaner surface that will require less sanding.
Use the orbital sander to sand the cutout smooth.
Step 4. Glue Sections of Countertop Together.
First, glue clamping points (often scraps included with the kit) on each section of countertop. You will attach your clamps to these to hold the countertop sections together while the adhesive dries.
Now, some countertops have seam support strips, while others may use “biscuits” to add support to the seams. Apply adhesive along the seam, inserting biscuits first if that is what the countertop uses. Apply clamps to the clamping points. (You may want to install clamping points once the countertop is fit to the space to allow adequate drying time so they’re secure when you clamp.)
Do not wipe away any adhesive that escapes at the seam, unless otherwise instructed by the directions on the adhesive. You will sand it later when you sand the seam smooth.
Step 5. Sand the Seam(s).
Remove the clamping blocks. Then, use the belt or orbital sander (the belt sander will do the job faster) and sand the seam and residual glue that held the clamping blocks in place.
Start with the 100 grit. Then use the 150. Finally, move to the 220 grit. You can then polish with a scouring pad, or a buffer pad on the orbital sander.
Step 6. Glue Countertop in Place.
With help, lift the counter. Apply adhesive in drops every 6 to 8 inches along the surface the countertop will sit on. Then, set the countertop in place, check fit and press down.
Step 7. Finishing.
At this point, your solid surface countertop is installed. There are a few elements left you may need to do to finish.
• Add backsplash. If you are adding a backsplash of the same material, you will need to fit, scribe and glue to the wall. Use a color-matched caulk to fill the seam between the backsplash and countertop.
• Install sink. Apply plumber’s putty around the edge of the sink and set in place, securing as instructed by the directions. Apply a bead of caulk around the edge of the sink.
• Drill holes for faucet and spray attachment. You may want to smooth the holes with sandpaper or the scouring pad.
Let the countertop set for 24 hours before using. Finally, enjoy your kitchen’s or bath’s fresh new look and a job well done.