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Tile a Countertop over Laminate the Easy Way

Tile Installation on Laminate Countertop or Backsplash Was a Chore Before Simplemat® and Bondera® Tile Mat

© 2012 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

A rustic ceramic tile countertop; photo courtesy Gryffindor

Have you ever wanted to update your countertops yourself with tile but just didn’t want to tackle the hassle? Well, the good news is that now there’s a way to get the job done without using messy adhesives, thinset, or mortar — Bondera and Simplemat.

It’s not at all messy, it’s simple to use, there are no VOC problems, and you can begin the tile grouting part of the job immediately after laying tile. that cuts hours off the job, meaning your kitchen will be out of service for a minimal amount of time.

It’s easy to find; Simplemat® TileSetting Mat is distributed by Home Depot, while Bondera TileMatSet® is carried at Lowe’s.

Benefits of Adhesion Mats

Although the mats are a bit more expensive than thinset or mortar, they make it possible for contractors to lower their labor expense (not needing to come back the next day to grout the tile). And as mentioned above, they allow DIY types to finish a kitchen remodeling job in less time.

This alone has kept many husbands out of the dog house. So how does it all work? These products come in mat shapes; the bottom adheres to your counter and/or backsplash and the bottom of the tile adheres to the top of the mat.

Tile-bonding mats may be used to install natural stone, porcelain, glass, or ceramic tile, but keep in mind this important caveat; the manufacturers suggest that the tiles be larger than 1” X 1” (2.5 mm X 2.5 mm).

Tile Installation Tools Needed

  • A Grout float, sponge, and water bucket
  • A wet saw for cutting the tile
  • Cheese cloth for polishing the grout haze off the tile surfaces
  • Heavy-duty scissors or utility knife for cutting the mat
  • A measuring tape

Prepare to Install Your Tile

The initial task to tackle is make sure that your countertop and backsplash surface are clean. Simplemat and Bondera are both designed to bond to the surface on which they are placed.

It goes without saying that if it is placed on a dusty surface, you won’t get the desired results and you will encounter problems down the road. Scrubbing surfaces down with TSP (TriSodium Phosphate) will guarantee that you will get a satisfactory bond.

Keep in mind that your mat can be used on plywood surfaces also, so it will work well with cabinets that haven’t been laminated. In either situation, your surfaces need be flat, with no any dips, steps, or bumps.

Basically, these mats are simply cut n’ stick products. The one you use is an individual choice as they both seem to work equally well. The primary difference between them is that Simplemat utilizes a seam overlaping method (which seems to violate the flat surface rule somewhat).

On the other hand, Bondera utilizes its proprietary seam tape, which seems more logical to me. Because the mat is so pliable, it will bends over a rounded edge of the countertop, if that is your particular configuration.

Now Install and Grout Your Tile

Laying the tile is an easy job so long as the countertop and backsplash surfaces are flat as explained above.

  1. Remove or jack up your sink and any appliance (like a stovetop that is embedded). Note that due to your new elevation you may need to reconfigure your plumbing under the sink; probably just use a longer tail piece.
  2. Cut the first piece of mat to size if you can’t start with a full piece. The whole point is to achieve full coverage.
  3. Remove your mat backing.
  4. Set the mat in place.
  5. Remove your mat top liner.
  6. Repeat steps 2 to 5 for the area being worked.
  7. Firmly press the tiles in place.
  8. The grouting can begin right away.
  9. Finally, after the grout is dry, use a professional-grade grout sealer. I recommend 2 coats for best results.

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