tiling kitchen counter top

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I have some Mapei KER 121 thinset left over from installing floor ceramics. We want to tile (2x2 inch) our kitchen counters - one is a 'dry' counter, the other is 'wet' - around the sink. I need a recommendation of the right product to use if the KER 121 isn't ok.
On the dry counter (about 2x4 feet) I have two 5/8 sheets of exterior grade ply. Around the sink (about 2x3 feet, minus the sink itself) I have a single sheet of 5/8 ply and a 1/2 inch sheet of backer board (DenShield).
Never done this before so any tips are appreciated.
thanks, Frank
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[...]
MIght be better off posting to alt.home.repair .
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Although tiled counters can be downright beautiful, as a work surface they suck. They usually aren't very reliable, as water seeps in here and there, around the sink, etc. Grout will stain, no matter what the sealant companies will try to tell you. The sink problems have been solved by a very innovative company, I suggest you study their ideas. http://www.counter-seal.com/sche.html A drop-in sink on top of tile, will leave you with dirt traps all around the perimeter. Silicon seals look just plain ugly. What I suggest to my clients is to use a flat, watertight, non-porous, refinish-able surface, such as solid surface acrylics or stainless and create the tile masterpiece on the wall as a back-splash. That way they get 'the look', without the high maintenance. A custom GP grade laminate top will give you all those features as well for less money, but you lose the non-staining, refinish-ability of acrylic solid surface. Please note the emphasis on acrylic; polyester makes for bad countertops.
I hope this helps.
Rob
www.topworks.ca
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wrote:

the smaller the tile, the more uneven the surface. 2" are horrible to work on. plates, pans, cutting boards rock.
pick something larger, or go to a solid surface, for a better counter.
you can use that thinset on counters. use mastic for walls.
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To the OP, my recommendation is simply this: don't do it. We spent a long weekend two years ago ripping out the tile counters the previous owners had installed in our house. They were arguably the worst kitchen surface you can imagine-- hard to clean, impossible to work on (try rolling out a piecrust on 4x4 tile), they chipped from pots, etc. etc. We ended up ripping out the counters entirely and starting from scratch, replacing them with laminate and oak trim. It was a huge improvement. I'd never buy a house with tile counters again.
Good luck!
-kiwanda
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Epoxy grout won't
Works like warm bubblegum but otherwise the _only_ grout I'd use anywhere water is the norm vs. the exception.
-Bruce
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Bruce, I've not used epoxy grout yet. Could you describe as best you can how the application differs from ordinary grout? Is it the consistency that makes it hard to spread, or some other factors that contribute to other difficulties? Is it harder to remove the excess? How's the drying time as compared to std grout? More than likely I'll be grouting my kitchen counter during a remodel that includes replacing Formica with tile, but I'm doubtful we can keep the grout in decent shape over a long period. I've got latex modified grout that's been on 2 vanity countertops for over two years and they are doing ok, but those seams aren't soaked with oils as a kitchen would encounter.
Dave
Bruce wrote:

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On Wed, 18 May 2005 21:37:26 -0600, David wrote
All the other comments about chipping, using as a cutting board, making pie crusts, etc. should be considered. In my case I used 12" granite with narrow (penny width) grout joints.

Basically it is epoxy with silica sand for "texture" and color. It comes in kits (check out http://www.laticrete.com/ )
There is a hardener, resin, and bag-'o-sand in the color of your choice. It is pricey!
You need a rubber grout float (hard edged, not the "foam" type) and some white scrub pads (the kits come with the pads) for clean up.
Simply, you apply just like regular grout. Glop it on and force it into the joints. Be aware that it tends to "flow" more than regular grout. I was worried about it flowing out of my backsplash but it didn't. After you get it applied, you clean up by rubbing the surface with the white pads and water. Really it's the same process as regular grout, just slightly different equipment. I would hesitate to apply it to porous or rough surface tiles since it would be difficult to clean the grout out of the pores.
It does have the texture of hot melted bubblegum. Kind of stringy and elastic. Work time is reasonably long. It does have a bit of sheen compared to the flatness of cement grout, some describe it as looking like toothpaste.
Epoxy grout is what is used in industrial areas and kitchens. Basically impervious to anything and it won't absorb stains or break down. Looks like new after several years of total abuse.
One "bad" aspect of it flowing is if your tiles are set such that there are any channels for the grout to seep into, it will and you will get somewhat shallow fills unless you compensate.
You also should have a solid base in general for tile counters. I used 5/8 cdx plywood with 1/2" cement backer board screwed and thin-setted on top (latex modified thinset). The tiles were places on top with the same thinset.

Just "gooey".

Yes, but it can be done with plenty of wipes with clean water,

It depends on the brand, but I seem to remember about an hour of work time and 24 hours to full dry.
Do some google "epoxy grout" usenet searches and check with your better tile suppliers.
Let me know if you have more questions 8^)
-Bruce

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how is it for grout repairs? i have some cement type grout that i'm going to be digging out to repair some places. will this stick to what is left just under the surface?

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Sorry, been out of town for a while...
Charles Spitzer wrote:

Epoxy grout is epoxy with colored silca sand mixed in. No problems sticking to any surface that regular epoxy will stick to.
If it were me I think I'd try to get the "depth" of the epoxy grout to equal or exceed the width of the grout joint.
-Bruce

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wrote:

I like plumber's dope around the underside of the sink, myself. Works pretty darn good, and you can't see it from the top of the counter.

I've done three or four tile countertops over the past several years, and I'd tend to agree with you. They look okay, but keeping them clean is far more hassle then it's worth.

This is the thing I really wanted to ask about- as I saw you make the same recommendation in another thread. You might be taking about an entirely different product, but a couple of years ago, I built a showroom for a plumbing wholesaler who stocked acrylic tubs, and those things were so fragile it was just rediculous. One of the salesmen set a cardboard box full of faucets in one of them on top of a thin layer of drywall dust when I was working, and it left a bunch of fine scratches that basically destroyed the look of the entire tub. I know you were referring to joint strength previously, but is the surface really desirable for a situation where dishes are going to get slid around, and may be used as a cutting board by some careless person sometime down the road?
Like I said, it could be an entirely different product, and probably is- but it really piqued my curiousity.
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I forgot to mention that solid surface makes for lousy cutting boards.
That stuff will take the edge right off your Wusthoffs.
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wrote:

Boy, I hope it was- they were charging a mint for the suckers, and calling them acrylic. I'm sure it was possible to sand out and repolish them, but I was just amazed by how easily it got scratched.

You're probably right there- it just seems like such a shame that such expensive products can be damaged so easily. The case I sited was a really highly polished bright white, so the small scratches really showed up because they dulled the flowing lines of the tub.

Whew- people with considerably more money than me, I'd guess. But while we're on the subject of countertops, and since you seem to have some expertise, what do you suggest for a guy with a budget that wants something a little different. I was thinking that quarried slate might be interesting, but I have no idea how well it would work as a counter. I actually am not looking for anything overly glossy- the kitchen floor is being redone in cork when I get around to it, and the cabinets have nice maple doors (spalted and figured veneer from god-only-knows where) so I'd like to keep that sort of organic look to match it.
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wrote:

Want a bit of advice from someone with a tiled countertop? Don't, as in DON'T do it! My wife absolutely hates the stuff. As the countertop ages, the grout wears down and you wind up with cavities that are hard to clean, hold stuff like spilled flour or sugar, and channel drippings all over the place. There are numerous better materials out there for counter tops.
+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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And, if you do any baking, are you going to roll the dough on tile?
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I have read with interest the cons of using tile for the counter top and I could not agree more with the comments on 4" or 6" tile.
That having been said, I chose 12" black granite tile for my new kitchen remodel and demanded a black EPOXY grout from a company called Laticrete. The product is sold at Lowes for the weekend warrior. It is not easy to apply, particularly in regard to cleaning the residue. You must get it all off and the key here is constant changing of the water and the sponges. But it is durable, color fast and impervious to water.
Yes, even my 1/16inch grout lines catch a little flour but I use a baking canvas on the counter anyway and if the contractor does a good job of leveling the 12"tile, it really is a pretty flat surface. My trick is to keep a powerful hand vac handy like the Shark to do the preliminary cleaning and then glass cleaner and paper towel give me a beautiful clean surface in a jiffy. I have a few pictures of the nearly completed copy on my web page if you want to check it out.
Good Luck
Dennis Slabaugh Hobbyist Woodworker www.woodworkinghobby.com

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Looks like a nice job, Dennis. The bigger tiles would make it much more serviceable. Is the lip of the sink sitting on the substrate and the tiles were applied afterwards? Nice job in the inside radii.
r
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Thanks R,
The concrete backer board is cut outside of the plywood cut out, beyond the perimeter of the sink edge. You then put a series of stainless steel flat head screws sunk half way down (1/8 " protruding) and level them. You put a layer of marine adhesive in the recession over the screws and bed the sink (elevated slightly by the screw heads to create a bed above and below the sink lip) in the adhesive. you let that dry and then tile over the lip which is now water tight and sealed. After the tile is set, you go back and seal the edge with marine adhesive or silicone. You then have a permanent and water tight sink edge that will never allow water underneath.
Dennis Slabaugh, Hobbyist Woodworker www.woodworkinghobby.com
wrote:

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frankg wrote:

ceramics.
counter,
right
grade
single
I have to go against the consensus here and say that I love my tiled counter top. Couple of things:
I used porcelain. It's tons harder than ceramic, and nothing can chip these things. I've dropped huge pots on corner, and not a mark.
Cleanup is easy. I don't know what people are doing, but for this stuff to stain, you'd have to leave a puddle on the counter overnight. A simple wipe up with a sponge and it's done.
Go to Home Depot and buy their tiling 1-2-3 book. Everything you ever wanted to know about tiling.
The sink I used is an under mount sink, and I made the cutout so that I tiled vertically around it for about an 1.25" (I used 3/4" ply, and 1/2" cement board). Looks great.
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the tile doesn't stain. the grout does.
pots/plates also wobble, which is a pain to deal with. i used 12" granite tiles which is a bit better.
regards, charlie http://glassartists.org/chaniarts
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