How to Replace a Laminate Countertop
Durable, easy to clean, and attractive, plastic laminate countertops are popular for a reason. If yours could use an update, you can replace them yourself in a single day. All you need are some basic tools, supplies, and a little elbow grease. Here’s what you’ll need for this intermediate-level project:
- Tape Measure
- Power Drill/Driver
- Phillips Bit
- 1/8-in. Diameter Bit
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Utility Knife
- Laminate Jigsaw Blade
- Pry Bar
- Adjustable Wrench
- Tongue & Groove Pliers
- Carpenter’s Square
- Painter’s Tape
- Build-up Strip Kit
- Miter-Bolt Kit w/ Glue
- Drywall Screws
When taking on this DIY task, be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety gear. We’ll let you know throughout the video when you should and should not use the safety gear.
Measure for new counter. Start by sketching your countertop layout. Measure the length of each cabinet run. If a run ends at an exposed cabinet side rather than a wall, add three-fourths of an inch for an overhang. If a counter meets a freestanding appliance such as a stove or refrigerator, subtract one-sixteenth of an inch. This will allow you to easily move appliances in and out when needed. Keep in mind that standard countertops are 25 inches deep. Measure the depth of each cabinet to ensure there will be at least a half inch of overhang beyond door fronts.
Prepare kitchen. Remove cabinet drawers so you can easily access screws in your existing countertop. While it’s possible to work around large kitchen appliances, it’s best to remove them if you can. You’ll also need to remove your sink. For more detailed information about how to do this, view our How to Replace a Kitchen Sink project.
Remove old countertop and backsplash. Countertops are typically screwed to blocks in cabinet corners. Check under your countertops to see how they’re attached to your cabinets. Then, remove any fasteners and pull them out. If necessary, use a pry bar to remove the backsplash with the rest of the counter.
Lay out hole for sink. Some new sinks include a template for a sink hole. If yours does not, turn the sink upside down and trace around it. We recommend placing the counter in place over cabinets to measure and cut a hole for your sink.
Find the center of the cabinets where your sink will be located and mark the location. Transfer to your new countertop and place the sink so it’s centered on the mark. Use painter’s tape to mark the outer edge of the sink.
Remove the sink and measure the width of the sink lip to determine the proper cut line. Use a marker and carpenter’s square to mark the cut line around the sink. Make sure you’re precise, since you can only make this cut once.
Cut hole. Place the counter on sawhorses and drill a half inch starter hole. A nail punch can help with this. Another option is to start with a smaller bit, and work your way up to a half inch drill bit. Once your starter hole is in place, cut the hole for the sink with a jigsaw equipped with a laminate blade. When the sink cutout begins to vibrate, hold it in position by driving two or three drywall screws into the gap left by the saw cut.
Attach counter. Push the counter flush against the wall. If your cabinets have corner blocks, attach the countertops with one and one-fourth inch drywall screws, driving them through the blocks into the build-up strips. If the corner blocks are thicker wood or particle board, use drywall screws one inch longer than the thickness of the corner blocks.
At mitered connections, align the two sides and install miter bolts. Your project is complete. Step back and admire your beautiful new countertop.