How to Lay Tile Over Formica Countertops

Cadence Johansen

Formica countertops can become outdated and worn with time. A good way to renew the look of your kitchen countertops is to tile them. Tile can be applied directly over the outdated Formica countertops if the laminate is in good condition.

If you have Formica countertops and wish to tile them, having the correct tools and a good plan will get you started.

  1. Clean the countertop with water and a small amount of dish detergent. This will help remove dirt and grease from the Formica.

  2. Sand the top of the countertop. Use a hand sander and sandpaper to remove the high-gloss finish from the Formica. Sanding the Formica countertop you will allow the thinset mortar better adhesion on the countertop. Once you have thoroughly sanded the top and sides of the Formica countertop, use a damp rag to wipe away the dust.

  3. Lay the tile out on top of the Formica countertop. Laying the tile out will give you a better idea of how the countertop will look once completed. Adjust the tiles as needed for the best layout. Use tile spacers between the tiles to give you a good representation of the grout lines. Use a permanent marker to mark where you'll begin laying the tile. Once you have a good layout, remove the tile and tile spacers from the countertop.

  4. Mix the thinset mortar. Apply the mortar with a notched trowel. Use the flat end of the trowel to evenly spread the mortar and the notched edge of the trowel to remove the excess mortar from the countertop.

  5. Press the tiles into place on top of the thinset mortar. Lay the whole tiles first, using spacers between each tile. Once the whole tiles have been laid, use a tile saw to cut the remaining tiles for the countertop. Apply the cut tiles to the countertop with thinset mortar. Do not grout the countertop until the thinset mortar is completely dry.

  6. Mix the grout and apply it with a rubber float at a 45-degree angle. Remove the extra grout with a damp sponge. Let the grout dry for several days before heavy use.