Report: Tiling over laminate counters--success!


Some of you may remember that I posted a question here about tiling over an existing laminate counter. Well, it's done, and I wanted to report back here in case it might be useful for anyone with similar questions.
The customer (a friend, actually) wanted new tile counters. The existing counters were 60s or 70s-style Formica, complete w/rolled lip, over particle board. After removing the counters, the plan was to either put plywood over the laminate, and Wonderboard over the ply, or, as we realized would be possible after starting to strip the counters, put Wonderboard directly over the particle board.
I say "after starting to strip the counters", as we did start to rip the Formica off the countertop: this, however, turned out to be such a massive pain in the ass that we quickly abandoned the idea. Would have taken many hours to accomplish this. Then I posted my question here, and also did some searching on the Web.
What we discovered was that you can actually put Wonderboard directly over Formica. This was something I wouldn't have believed either, but after a trip to a local tile store with a good reputation, this was confirmed.
The trick is to use the mortar that we already had bought, which was polymer-modified (*not* latex-modified), which will basically stick to anything (well, not sure about glass, but just about anything else). Just to be sure, we scuffed up the Formica with coarse sandpaper.
Everything went on smoothly; the counter is now in use, and shows no signs of weakness.
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David good post thank you. I'm considering doing the same thing and have some questions you may be able to answer. Did you consider screwing wonderboard directly in laminate counter? As opposed to using a motar. Also what thickness was the wonderboard - did you use - 1/4" or 1/2". Did you consider using hardibacker. Finally how thick was the laminate countertop to begin with? Thanks in advance.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com spake thus:

1. I did use some drywall screws to secure it (in addition to thinset), but just a few, a couple in the center and one or two along each edge, just to keep it from sliding before it set.
If you screw it, you should still use mortar.
2. 1/2". Considered Hardibacker, but I've used Wonderboard before, and it seemed just as good and a little cheaper.
Actually, one section was 1/4", since part of the countertop was a marble slab that was thicker than the tile. We didn't quite match the levels--the marble sits proud of the tile--but it's close. Just mortared the marble over the Wonderboard.
3. The laminate was the usual approx. 1/16" or so; the underlayment was 3/4" particle board.
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Hmm... might like to do the same ...
How did you deal with the raised edges around the sink?
Did those rolled edges also have a hump? If so how did you deal with that?

Not a surprise.

Why not use self-drilling cement board screws?
TIA for your reply...
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wrkg snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com spake thus:

Ah, yes, the rolled edges; should have said a word about those.
What we did was to score the laminate about 1-1/2" back from the edge with a utility knife, then strip it off. (It came off pretty easily.) This left a particle-board hump, actually a separate piece from the counter. I just ran a hand plane (my 9" Stanley jack plane) over the hump and made it disappear. Ended up with a nice flat front edge.

Those would work too. As it was, the screws weren't really holding anything together, just locating the underlayment until the mortar set.
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