Replace an old countertop and backsplash with a durable and attractive ceramic tile motif in an updated color. Remove the sink and the old countertop, and then learn how to build a new foundation or underlayment for the new tile counter and how to cut, set, and grout the tile.
Turn off the water supply beneath the sink. Disconnect the hoses and drain before lifting the sink out of the countertop. Remove screws beneath the countertop that hold it to the cabinet, and then lift it and carry it away.
Mark the dimensions for the new countertop on 3/4-inch plywood. Clamp a metal straight edge along the mark and cut the base panel out with a circular saw.
Place the base for the countertop on the cabinets and secure it with screws to the top of the cabinet.
Make a cardboard template of the sink and center it in the countertop above the cabinet doors. Trace the outline of the template and cut the opening with a jigsaw. Attach temporary supports to stop the cut piece from falling.
Cut backer-board to match the countertop. Score along the cut line and break the board. Cut the sink opening with a spiral cutting saw and masonry bit.
Use the notched edge of a trowel to apply fast-drying thinset mortar to the plywood in 1/4-inch ridges. Set the backer-board in place and secure it with galvanized nails.
Arrange two rows of tiles in a staggered bond along the edge of the counter in a balanced design that requires the fewest cuts. Be sure to allow space that represents the grout seam between the tiles.
Apply flexible tile mastic to the countertop's sides and thin-set mortar on its top to prevent the edge tile from cracking. Set the edge tile first, then set the whole field tiles, using vinyl spacers to position the tiles uniformly.
Score tiles with a scoring tile cutter along measured cut-lines, pressing down on the handle to break the tile. Butter the cut-tile backs with mortar and set them in position. Use mastic to set the backsplash tiles.
Distribute grout across the tile and press it firmly into each joint using a rubber float. Rake off excess diagonally across the tiles. Clean the face of the tile with a damp sponge, rinsing frequently. Polish with a paper towel.