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Countertop Installation 101

Whether you want to spruce up your bathroom's appearance, or you're undertaking a complete kitchen renovation, countertop installation is an important design consideration. Not to mention, installing a countertop involves a lot more than considering what materials to use—although this is important as well.

Counters can make or break your room's design. Outdated materials and colors can make a kitchen or bathroom look less appealing, which may negatively impact your personal enjoyment of the space. Not to mention, if you're looking to sell in a few years, it's worthwhile to invest in a classic material that will last through the ages and make your home look more modern.

Since there are so many moving parts that go into countertop installation, the Dallas handyman team at Mr. Handyman of Dallas put together this helpful resource. In it you'll find our top installation tips, what to expect during the job, and the pros and cons of some of the most common materials.

Countertop Installation Tips

One of the most important things to know about countertop installation, is that it's one of the last things to be done in your kitchen or bathroom. It's important that all your cabinets and appliances are permanently installed first. Fixtures should be in place as well, as nothing can move between the template and installation.

What is Countertop Templating?

A template is a pattern used in the construction of countertops and other furniture. Templating is the process of developing a pattern that will allow the fabricator to know the exact measurements of your new countertop. Without a template, the fabricator would not have an accurate idea of your specific counter's requirements.

Templates are usually completed in a couple of ways. Either strips of thin plywood are pieced together with a hot glue gun to mark where the finished product will be, or a more high-tech template can be created. This approach could involve either lasers or a process called photogrammetry, which pieces together a 3D image from photographs.

Sinks and Faucet Installation

It's important to have your sink and sink cabinet onsite before templating, as this fixture is a big consideration when it comes to fitting your new countertop. Usually, the counter will have a space cut-out of it where the sink will be inserted into. But, you have to decide if the top of the sink will be flush with the countertop, or if it will be dropped slightly. Usually, sinks that are flush with countertops are easier to clean—which is a key consideration.

When it comes to faucets, it's also important to know where in the countertop they will be placed. Some faucets are centered, whereas others are slightly off-centre, depending on your sink and drainage needs. Additionally, some homeowners opt for wall-mounted faucets—which means you need to know where the finished wall surface, sink and countertop will be.

Overhangs

If any section of your countertop will overhang the cabinets, it's important to ask your contractor how this area will be supported. Typically, overhands of up to 6 to 13 inches are possible without bracing—depending on the material. However, an attractive bracket adds support and peace of mind if weight is put on the counter—such as a small child climbing up onto it to reach the infamous cookie jar.

Counter Height

This consideration is integral to your comfort and use of the space, as different people and tasks require different counter heights. For instance, if you or a loved one is in a wheelchair, the height will vary greatly compared to someone over six-feet tall. Cabinets also tend to influence a countertop's height. Standard cabinets are around 36-inches off the floor. However, if your cabinets are larger, say 39-inches, or shorter, like 24-inches, then this may impact the region's overall height.

Not to mention, if you have a kitchen island or bar, then you may need countertops with multiple heights. An island may be a bit lower than the other areas to make chopping and food preparation more comfortable. Meanwhile, a bar will naturally be higher to accommodate bar stools. Most bars are about 42-inches high.

Countertop Support

Generally, your cabinetry will provide enough support. However, the areas for concern are usually where your appliances and countertop meet. It's important to consult with your contractor about what will support the surface around appliances. For instance, will your stove need a strip of material running behind it for support? How will it be supported around the dishwasher? These machines can't hold-up a counter, so if the material goes above the dishwasher, what keeps it in place? Proper structural supports are important for both the appearance and functionality of your kitchen.

Seams

Almost all counters have seams, which is where different pieces join together. To ensure your kitchen or bathroom countertop looks its absolute best, it's important to have a sense of where these seams will be—as you really want the countertop to look seamless. For instance, many natural stones have veining running through them, which makes it easier to hide seams.

What Comes Next?

After the templating is completed, your unique countertop will be manufactured and installed. Once the templating is done, you'll usually have to wait up to two weeks for the countertop to be made and installed. It's important to schedule the countertop installation as soon as the surface is fabricated, so you can move on to the other steps in the renovation process. At Mr. Handyman of Dallas, we always offer convenient scheduling times, so you can plan your renovation as seamlessly as possible.

While all key components should be in-place before templating, there are a couple steps that can take place once the surface is installed.

Plumbing

This important step can only take place once everything else has been installed. Your plumber will need to hook up the faucet and drain before it can be used.

Backsplash Installation

Whether you opt for a ceramic tile kitchen backsplash or something else entirely, you have to wait to install your backsplash until the countertop is installed. The reason for this is that the lower level of your backsplash is dictated by the surface beneath it. Not to mention, you don't want your backsplash to get damaged during the installation process.

Painting

One of the finishing touches for any bathroom or kitchen remodel, wait to paint until the dust has settled on all the other installation projects. This ensures you're not wasting time painting areas that will be covered up later.

Different Types of Countertop Materials

Knowing the basic countertop installation steps is only half the battle—the other half is choosing what material is best for your space. There are many different materials to choose from, and each has its own pros and cons worth exploring. Maybe you've already decided what material is right for you, or maybe you're looking down to narrow your options. Either way, continue reading to learn more about the most commonly used materials for countertop installation:

Granite

Usually, granite is the material of choice for most Dallas homeowners. This highly durable and elegant material adds a touch of luxury to any space—whether the kitchen or bathroom. Granite's main benefits are its strength—it's even impervious to heat—and versatility. There are nearly 3,000 different colors and types available, making it perfect for all kinds of aesthetics. Granite also improves your home's resale value.

However, this fantastic material has a few drawbacks too. It's typically a more costly material, the slab may have imperfections as it's a natural stone, and it's quite a porous stone. This means it requires regular sealing to avoid stains.

Marble

Another natural stone commonly used in kitchens and bathrooms, one of marble's greatest qualities is that each slab will be entirely unique—as no two sheets of marble are exactly the same. Marble is a luxury item, and has a hefty price tag. For that reason, some homeowners choose to install marble in only part of a room/s. For instance, you may want marble in your master bath, but not in the kids bathroom. Or, it could be the highlight of a kitchen island, while you choose another material for other areas.

Aside from its cost, another drawback to marble is that it's very easily damaged. Compared to granite, this is quite a soft stone. While regular sealing can help keep scratching at bay, it's hardly a low-maintenance material.

Quartz

Initially created to be a more adaptable and better performing alternative to granite and marble, quartz countertops aren't actually 100% quartz. Rather, they're an engineered stone product that contains as much as 93% quarts and other materials shaped into slabs and bound with resins. A great benefit of quartz is that it's available in an exceptionally wide range of colors and styles—even more so than granite. It also has a non-porous surface that's resistant to both scratching and staining. However, quartz counters are usually more expensive than other materials.

Laminate

Plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that's easy to clean, laminate surfaces are made by bonding laminate sheets to a particleboard core. Recently, laminates have seen a rise in popularity because of their diversity and versatility. They're very easy to maintain and comparatively inexpensive. However, this material can also be easily chipped and scratched—and is very difficult to repair.

Ceramic Tile

Durable and easy to clean, the qualities that make ceramic tile ideal for backsplashes and floors also make it a great choice for countertops. It's easy to clean and less expensive than natural stone, quartz or solid-surface materials. Not to mention, both ceramic and porcelain tiles are available in numerous patterns, styles and designs. The primary drawback of ceramic tile is that the grout can be easily stained and needs to be cleaned regularly.

Soapstone

Usually soapstone is available in a dark gray color. It's known for its smooth and silky feel, making it quite luxurious to the touch. Over time, soapstone takes on an antique-like patina that can be very aesthetically pleasing, depending on your kitchen or bathroom's style. Although it sounds like it will be soft and pliable, like soap, the variety used in homes is actually very hard and stain resistant. Fairly impervious to heat, another benefit is that most types of damage can be sanded out.

Drawbacks to using soapstone in your kitchen or bathroom include: it must be treated with mineral oil to maintain its quality, and not all homeowners might like the look of the patina as the stone ages.

Solid-Surface Material

This man-made material consists of a blend of acrylic particles and resins that are pressed into sheets. Solid-surface materials have been around for nearly 50 years. This material is quite commonly found in Dallas homes, and is considered mid-tier with regard to expense and luxury. It's stain resistant, has virtually invisible seams and is available in a range of patterns and colors. However, solid-surface material's greatest drawback is that it can be easily damaged by hot pans and pots.

Hire the Pros at Mr. Handyman of Dallas for Your Countertop Installation Needs!

Do you need help with countertop installation? The expert team at Mr. Handyman of Dallas has it covered. Our service professionals have years of experience completing a wide range of home improvement projects. Whether you just want a new counter installed in your bathroom, or are keen to tackle a full-scale kitchen renovation, we're the handyman team you can trust.

We've helped numerous homeowners throughout the Dallas area with their home repair, installation and improvement needs, including in communities such as Carrollton and Richardson. It's our honor to provide outstanding workmanship and excellent customer service to all our Dallas clients.

To book an appointment today, or to learn more about our full range of services, we invite you to give our friendly office staff a call at 972-627-4518 . We look forward to helping with your next project!