A seemingly seamless expanse of granite or tile is lovely to look at. Although it may look as if it has no grout to keep it firmly in place as traditional and small tiles do, a seamless tile installation still needs the security of a layer of grout. Granite tiles offer a slightly less expensive alternative to a giant and cumbersome slab of the popular decorative stone. It's easier to buy, transport, cut and install the tiles, particularly if your project has a staff of one.
A Good Base
You will need to have a strong piece of plywood that's at least 3/4 of an inch. The base should be sturdy and durable enough to hold the weight of the tiles, but not too bulky or heavy to add weight to the structure holding up the entire shelving and countertop unit. A tile-backer that is lightweight should be placed over the plywood. This helps prevent damage to the plywood from errant cracks or sealing issues that can occur over time. When planning to install a granite tile countertop, you will need to be able to cut tiles for the front lip for a clean countertop look. The tiles need to be cut at 45-degree miters to give a crisp line to the lip of the countertop.
Tools and Calculations
Figure out how many tiles you need by multiplying the lineal footage of the countertop by 2.5. Most countertops have a lineal footage of 24 inches. Make sure to add for the tiles you'll need to cover the front lip of the granite tile countertop. Have extra on hand for the breakage factor. Don't forget to subtract for the sink, stovetop or other built-ins you will have on the countertop. You'll also need a 25-pound bag of thinset mortar and a 5-pound bag of unsanded grout for the tile joints. The unsanded type of grout is best for the small grout lines that will be less than 1/8 inch. Fiberglass mesh tape, a 1/4 inch notched trowel, a putty knife, margin trowel and grout float round out the long list. For cutting, have a honing stone available to soften edges. Plastic spacers are needed to support any backsplash tiles. No grout tile or rectified tiles are cut at an angle so that they may not need grout because they are cut to an accuracy of 0.2 mm and don't have the unaligned look. Use epoxy to grout a countertop in the small spaces that may get overlooked. Use black epoxy grout for granite that is dark and white for lighter granite tiles.
Granite Tile Countertop Installation
Once the plywood and backing are down, lay the tile where you like it with each tile barely touching. Grout the tiles with the unsanded grout and use the notched float in a diagonal swipe to get the grout neatly between the tiles. Buff out any excess grout with a damp sponge. Let it dry overnight and give it a good cleaning with a dry, soft towel until it is gleaming.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.