The most cost effective countertop material to use is tile. Most tile is durable, elegant, heat resistant, stain-resistant, and inexpensive when compared to alternatives. Tile is available in a wide variety of materials including granite, marble, travertine, slate, or ceramic. Here are some things to remember to get the most out of your tile countertop.
- Build a sturdy surface with 3/4″ plywood. Additional supports should be placed where needed. If the base isn’t solid the tiles will eventually crack. In the picture above I framed everything in with 2″x4″s and sat on the countertop in several place to make sure it could easily hold my weight without flexing.
- Lay a tile backer or cement board (the blue surface shown above) over the plywood to get a good surface for your tile. Carefully plan your tile layout to determine where the grout joints will fall and lay the tiles as level as possible. Before gluing it’s a good idea to dry-fit everything to make sure it all fits well.
- Use epoxy grout. Epoxy grout is more durable and stain resistant than regular grout. In places that frequently get wet or dirty epoxy grout is a must. Regular grout stains quickly and is very hard to keep clean. I have had this countertop for over 2 years now and it looks the same today as it did the day I finished.
The darker countertop in the pictures above cost me approximately $350 from start to finish by doing the work myself. I got a quote for a formica countertop at $1200 (I didn’t even price granite). This was a savings of $850. To me, this was like getting a better countertop for less money. If this home was in a higher price range I would have definitely gone with a granite slab in the kitchen but would have still done tile countertops in the bathrooms. If you’ve tried making your own tile countertop let me know how it went.