So, maybe there’s a practical reason for replacing your bathroom countertop. Maybe it’s old and stained. Maybe it’s chipped or gouged.
On the other hand, you may simply be ready to give your bathroom a new look.
Whatever the reason, replacing a bathroom countertop is a relatively easy DIY project. But before you start, you should know that a new bathroom countertop can be bulky or heavy, so you may need some help.
Read on for a complete guide to replacing your bathroom countertop. You’ll also find answers to a few frequently asked questions.
Choosing the Right Bathroom Countertop
If we’re honest about DIY projects, it’s fair to say choosing new features or furnishings is the fun part. When it comes to replacing a bathroom countertop, there are a lot of choices of materials.
From granite, to marble, to tile, to laminate, to quartz, you’ll face what could be a bewildering array of choices for replacing your bathroom countertop. Read on for a quick rundown of pros and cons of these options.
Quartz is high-priced, but it offers a great diversity of colors and styles. You’ll need to be careful in choosing quartz, though, because it won’t readily fit with a lot of overall bathroom decor.
On the other end of the price spectrum is tile, which can be very inexpensive. However, long-term maintenance of tile can be a challenge. In particular, keeping grout clean can be somewhat labor-intensive.
A granite countertop won’t require a lot of maintenance, and is very durable. However, it can be tricky to handle during installation. Putting in a granite countertop might best be considered a job for professionals.
Like granite, marble can bring an elegant tone to your bathroom. However, it stains easily, and is subject to chipping or even breaking.
Laminate comprises layers of plastic joined to particleboard or another base material. It’s a mid-range option for replacing a bathroom countertop that offers lots of different colors and styles, along with excellent durability.
On the negative side, laminate can be subject to scratches and other damage that may not be repairable.
Remove the Old Bathroom Countertop
The first step in replacing your bathroom countertop is removing the old countertop. While there are a few steps involved, it’s an easy job. Read on to find out how to get your old bathroom countertop out of the way.
Disconnect the Faucet, Water Lines, and Drain
To begin the removal of your old bathroom countertop, turn off the valves for the water lines leading to the faucet. Place a bucket inside the cabinet to catch the water that will drip out of the water lines. Next, unscrew the faucet mounting bolts on the underside of the sink.
After that, disconnect the lift rod, the part of the faucet assembly that closes the sink drain. It will be attached to the drain with a bracket and nut assembly.
Now, turn your attention to the sink drain. It can be detached from the sink by loosening either the nut on the underside of the sink that connects the sink to the drain. Or, you can unscrew the drainpipe from the P-trap, a curved section of pipe located under the sink.
Remove the Faucet and Sink
Next, lift the faucet assembly away from the sink. If you’ll be reinstalling the same faucet and sink, clean the gunk accumulated around the faucet holes. Use either rubbing alcohol or a household cleaner.
Next, as you set the stage for replacing your bathroom countertop, check to see whether your sink has any screws and brackets holding it in place. If so, remove them with a screwdriver.
To remove the sink, use a utility knife to slice the caulk holding it to the countertop. At this point in replacing your bathroom countertop, you should be able to lift the sink free with a bit of effort.
If not, use a miniature pry bar to carefully separate the sink from the countertop.
Loosen Adhesive Materials and Remove Screws
Turning your attention to the countertop, check to see if there are any screws on the underside of the cabinet holding the countertop in place. If so, unscrew them from the cabinet.
Separate the countertop from its base with a pry bar to break the grip of whatever adhesive holds it in place.
Move the Countertop Away from the Cabinet
Now, you’re ready to get the old countertop out of the way. If it’s heavy or awkwardly shaped or sized, enlist help to get it out of the bathroom.
If the countertop is undamaged, consider storing it away for some future DIY project. Or, you could donate it to a nonprofit organization that offers gently used building materials for sale at steep discounts. Otherwise, take the old countertop to your local landfill.
Installing the New Bathroom Countertop
Now comes the fun part of this DIY project. The first rule here is to be sure you have some help in maneuvering the new countertop into place, particularly if it is heavy or awkwardly shaped.
Cut Holes in the Countertop for the Sink and Faucet
With any luck, you will have found a new countertop that has pre-cut holes for its sink and faucet. If you didn’t, or can’t, find a countertop with pre-cut holes, your best bet is to get it cut by a professional before it is delivered to your home.
If you supply the measurements and locations for your needed holes, you may find that the place where you bought your countertop can cut them. Improperly cutting stone countertops can cause them to crack or break; the same is true even for laminate countertops.
Level the Cabinet
Next, in replacing a bathroom countertop, you’ll need to make sure the cabinet on which it will sit is level. Use a builder’s level long enough to give an accurate reading across a significant distance.
If your cabinet isn’t level, use wood shims to adjust its base. You may also need to lightly sand the top edges of your cabinet to make it level.
Secure the Countertop to the Cabinet
Once your cabinet is level, the next step in replacing your bathroom countertop is securing it to the cabinet. The process for securing your countertop to its base will vary according to the type of countertop you’re installing.
As always, follow the manufacturer’s directions for specific guidance on countertop installation. But you can read on for some general rules for installing various bathroom countertops.
Granite, Marble, and Quartz
Use a silicone sealant to secure your new bathroom countertop to its base for granite, marble, and quartz. Apply a bead of sealant atop the cabinet, and once the countertop is in place, apply a bead of sealant along where the outside of the cabinet meets the countertop.
Silicone sealants are available in clear, black, and white. Be sure the sealant you choose for replacing your bathroom countertop is specifically recommended for granite, marble, or quartz.
Once you have your laminate countertop set in place, use wood screws installed through the cabinet frame and into the underside of the countertop to secure it in place.
Make sure your wood screws are not so long that they will deform or break through the countertop. If there are no framing members at the edges of your cabinet, you’ll have to install the wood screws at an angle from the inside of the cabinet.
Tile can be installed directly over existing countertops, as long as the existing surface is properly primed, and you use the proper adhesive. But as you might guess, that approach could easily lead to a botched DIY job.
The best way to install tile is to replace the existing countertop with marine-grade plywood, topped with ¼-inch tile backer board.
Porcelain or ceramic tiles are the best options for replacing a bathroom countertop. Avoid natural stone tiles, or other types of tile that require occasional sealing, unless you’re willing to stay on top of that job.
Reinstall Sink and Faucet, Water Lines and Drain
Once replacing your bathroom countertop has reached this point, your next job will be reinstalling the sink and faucet. In most cases, you’ll lay a bead of silicone sealant around the hole for the sink, and press the sink into place.
Some countertops will require a special sealant for the sink. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations or get help from your local building supply store or home improvement warehouse.
For example, if your sink will be mounted under your new countertop, you’ll need a special epoxy sealant to ensure its weight is supported. Also, under-mount sinks will require the installation of special clips on the underside of the countertop.
Once the sink is in place, reconnect it to the drain and water lines, reversing the process you used when removing the old countertop.
Replacing a Bathroom Countertop Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve learned a lot about replacing a bathroom countertop, but like most DIYers, you’d probably like more information. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about bathroom countertops.
What is the best material for a bathroom countertop?
A primary personal consideration for replacing your bathroom countertop will, of course, be how it fits with your overall decorating scheme. In that light, it’s impossible to say which bathroom countertop material is best.
There are, though, some practical considerations in making your decision. For example, granite will give a unique style to your bathroom, since no two slabs are alike. As a downside, granite will require more maintenance than other countertops.
And before you reject laminate for replacing your bathroom countertop out of concerns that it may look cheap, take a look at the modern laminate options. In many cases, you’ll find laminate that closely resembles stone and other high-end materials, at a fraction of the cost.
However, if you still want the look and feel of stone, quartz is a great option. Quartz countertops, actually a blend of quartz and other stones bonded with resin and augmented with pigments, can bring a special look to your bathroom.
While you’re looking at countertop material, you might also want to consider ultracompact as an option. Sold under the brand name Dekton®, ultracompact countertop material is a combination of quartz, porcelain, and glass that can look like customized stone.
Should cutting holes in bathroom countertop materials be left to professionals?
The simple, and probably best, answer to this question, is “Yes.” Of course, if your bathroom countertop is a standard size, you will likely be able to find a countertop with pre-cut holes for sinks and faucets.
If you can’t find a suitable pre-cut countertop, you should find out whether the place you purchase your bathroom countertop will cut the holes for you. If not, your next move should be to call a professional.
That’s particularly true for stone countertops, which can crack or break if cutting isn’t carefully done. In fact, even laminate countertops are subject to breaking if improperly cut.
What are some maintenance tips for various bathroom countertop materials?
Once you’ve invested in replacing a bathroom countertop, you’ll want to keep it looking good. A great place to start is to comply with whatever manufacturer’s recommendations come with your new countertop.
But there are also some general tips and tricks for keeping your bathroom countertop in tip-top shape. Read on to learn more.
If you’ve installed a granite countertop, wipe it down regularly with a cloth dipped in a mixture of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid. Dry it immediately with a microfiber cloth.
More seriously, if your granite countertop is scratched, you can repair it using superfine steel wool. If the scratch is deep, though, you’ll need to have it repaired by a professional.
Similar to granite, laminate countertops should be regularly wiped down with a soft cloth soaked in mild dishwashing liquid mixed with water.
Sadly, if your laminate countertop gets scratched, there’s no way to repair it.
When it comes to marble countertops, the most important thing to do is use a sealer to protect it. Like granite, if a marble countertop is lightly scratched, it can be made like new with a few swipes of superfine steel wool.
If you’ve installed a tile countertop in your bathroom, use an all-purpose spray cleaner regularly. You’ll also need to address stains in the grout with specially formulated grout cleaner.
Wrapping up Replacing a Bathroom Countertop
As you’ve learned, replacing a bathroom countertop is a relatively easy DIY project. And as you’ll see when you step back to admire your work, it can make a big difference in the appearance of that space.
Once your new bathroom countertop is installed, you’ll likely be inspired to tackle more DIY bathroom projects. For inspiration and help, check out posts at DIY Painting Tips on paint ideas for your bathroom, the best paints to use in your bathroom, and quick ways to transform your bathroom.