Can You Cover a Tile Countertop?

Date: January 10, 2020
Author: Jon Smith
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Tile countertops are a rare find in the houses of today, due to their out of style look and lack of practicality in the kitchen. So, you may be wondering if there is a way to get rid of tile countertops without breaking the bank.

If you continue reading you will find out that there are options that could cost you very little.

Can You Cover Tile Countertops?

Yes, you can cover a tile countertop with concrete, new tile, or even wood however, it is best to remove your old tile countertops and replace them with another countertop option such as laminate, marble, wood, granite, or quartz.

Tile countertops seem to be an outdated fad, and most are not only unpleasant to look at but wholly impractical as the tiles can crack under too much pressure or heat and can easily get scratched, ruining their glossy finish and whatever appeal they have.

This article will discuss how you can cover specifics aspects of your tile counter as well as the ways you can cover the entirety of the counter. Financial considerations of these covering methods will also be examined.

Covering Specific Aspects of Your Countertop

If the whole counter isn’t the subject of your distress, but rather just a specific aspect of the counter, then there are small ways to cover the aspect up rather than doing an entire cover of the tie counter.

It is important to note that all precautions should be taken before and during any of these tasks. Face masks should be worn in the presence of any fumes and gloves in the presence of any strong adhesives or chemicals. It would also be wise to wear disposable or unimportant clothing, as many of these solutions involve paint, glue, and other stainable substances.

How to Change The Color of Tile Countertops

If the issue with your counter is the color, then there are a few options that will allow you to quickly change the old, outdated color to a new, modern one.

  • Decals: Decals are probably the cheapest way to cover the color of your counter. Depending on the square footage of the roll purchased, a counter decal can cost anywhere between $5 and $20.

All that’s needed is to simply stick the desired colored roll onto the counter where needed. There are even stick tiles that will allow for an easier transfer onto the counter, to keep the style of a tile counter, just with a new color. While decals are the cheapest solution to color, they are not a permanent solution.

  • Paint: Ideally, you could just paint over the tiles to achieve the desired color. To paint over a tiled counter, you need to prep the tile to receive paint as most tile counters have been waterproofed and will not take paint well.

Cover Your Countertops With Paint - How to Paint Tile Countertops

When the countertop is properly prepared, painting it should be easy:

  1. Wash the counter. It is very important to remove all impurities before continuing to any other step because any dirt or grease could be a hindrance to the process, making it harder to continue than necessary. The cleaner used during this step should be moderately rough. If there is mold/mildew on the counter, it is best to use trisodium phosphate or regular bleach to remove the fungus.
  2. Sand the tiles. The texture of the tiles needs to be rough so that the paint does not just slip off of the typically glossy tiles. The sandpaper’s grit should be at 220 for porcelain and ceramic tiles. This grit level is important because it will get the job done without scarring the tiles, and leaving them highly marred (deep markings on the tile will be visible through the paint, leaving a not-so-smooth finish).
  3. Rinse the tiles off to ensure that all cleaner and tile dust (from the sanding) is properly removed before painting. Let the counter dry and wipe down the counter with a tack cloth to ensure that no more dust remains on the counter. This will ensure that you end up with a smooth painting process and finish.
  4. Tape the surrounding walls with painter’s tape, and take the necessary precautions before painting, so that nothing surrounding the counter gets paint on it.
  5. Prime the counter itself. It is best to put a paint primer on the counter to ensure that the paint stays on the counter for as long as possible with minimal touch-ups in the future. One coat of primer is enough, but two coats will ensure that each tile is properly covered and that the pint will stay on better. The primer must be made for tile and glass surfaces and should either be a light grey or an off white.
  6. Finally, paint the tiles with an oil-based paint of your choice. You can layer the final coat of dried paint with a finishing polish, spray, or gloss to lock in all of the work and keep the paint job looking nice and lasting as long as possible.

Your options for paint could be the traditional bucket and brush, or you could choose the spray paint route, for which there are granite and stone options that can make your counter look and/or feel like natural rock. This method is more expensive than decals but should be a $100 to $200 project.

*Painting your countertop as well as layering it with decals and allows for a variety of styles and prints to be laid upon your counter. You can make the counter appear like marble, granite, or any number of finishes depending on your tastes.

How to Change the Texture of Tile Countertops

If your issue with your tiled counter is the texture, then this can be solved in a couple of ways. When changing the texture of your countertop, though, it will cost more money since you are now changing the feel rather than the look of the counter’s surface, which includes more involved processes and corresponding materials.

Whether it is the type of tile or the gaps in between the tiles that are bothering you, it can be easily solved.

Cover Your Tile Countertops With Concrete

If the issue with your tiles is the uneven surface you have to work on, then concrete or cement might be the thing you’re searching for. The idea would be to simply scrape some concrete or cement across the surface of the counter in order to fill the gaps in between each of the tiles.

To do this successfully, it is best to buy self-leveling concrete so that you won’t have to worry about leveling the cement yourself. The only drawback of this method is the dry time. It will take about a month for the cement to fully dry, so it would be best to use the cement sparingly.

Cover Your Tile Countertops With Epoxy Resin

This method could get a bit messy but well worth the effort if done properly. Epoxy is more viscous than concrete or cement, so it may be a bit trickier to work with. The payoff of this method is that the outcome is clear, smooth, and rather finished looking. The resin dries smooth and glossy, and its dry time is only 24 hours, which is much better compared to the month-long dry time of concrete.

The only precautions that you’d need to take are covering the floors and walls with paper or painter’s tape so that the resin does not ruin the surroundings. Resin is permanent, and while it is clear, it not easy to dissolve. The epoxy resin to buy should be specifically made for countertops and self-leveling (so that you won’t have to worry about doing it yourself).

Epoxy is a type of resin, but it is designed specifically for countertops and covers tiled countertypes wonderfully. The resin comes in multiple colors and finishes and can be applied easily to a variety of counters. There is also a type of epoxy known as a Stone Coat, which produces a stone-like feel to the surface it’s applied to. Stone Coat Epoxy is resistant to heat and waterproof; it easy to clean and easy to apply as well.

Tips for working with epoxy resin:

  • When it comes to resin, there are no short cuts. Be sure to follow all instructions on the label because different companies have different ingredients in their resin and, therefore different instructions.
  • Store resin, in its liquid state, in a room temperature environment; otherwise, you’ll open your container to a hard cylinder of resin.
  • It is important to keep moisture away from the resin while it’s curing. Added moisture to wet resin can make it cloudy and will make the counter look strange or even ugly and then the process will have to be started all over again.

Cover Tile Countertops With New Tiles

In some cases, tile counters look nice, depending on the type of tiles that they have. Some tiles look more modern and chic while others resemble a bathroom floor or pizzeria floor. In any case, you may just be looking to change the texture, look, size, and spacing of your current tiles.

Surprisingly enough, you can, in fact, cover tile with tile. You can top the current tiles with laminate tiles, which can add a more modern feel to an outdated tile countertop. The steps are as follows:

  1. Clean the current countertop and allow it to dry.
  2. You will want to measure the length and width of the countertop to determine the appropriate amount of laminate needed to cover the countertop.
  3. Make some markings to indicate where you’d like for the laminate tiles to start.
  4. Next, you will apply a thick layer of contact cement, which will work like glue, onto the top of the counter to adhere the laminate to.
  5. Use a vinyl tile cutter to cut the smaller pieces of laminate that are to put up against the wall and edges of the counter.
  6. Place the larger/full pieces of laminate on the countertop and then use a hand roller to secure them into place once finished.
  7. Allow the glue to dry for as long as the instructions per the brand of glue.

Covering the Entire Counter

When it comes to covering the entire counter, it will look something like combining two of the methods previously mentioned: Cement (or concrete) and painting or decals.

Chances are if you’re looking at replacing the entire counter, you like neither the texture nor the color. Covering the entire counter will take covering the counter’s uneven texture with concrete and then painting and putting a finish on the counter.

Covering Tile Countertops With Wood

It is also possible to cover your tiled counter with wood. Wood countertops not only look rustic and unique, but it is also durable and waterproof. Covering a tile counter with wood is much like covering a tile counter with paint:

  1. Clean the tiles with a household cleaner and allow them to dry.
  2. Sand down the tiles with 220 grit sandpaper and rinse off the tiles with cold water.
  3. After the water has dried, use a tack cloth to remove any remaining tile dust from the counter.
  4. You will want to measure the countertop’s surface area to plan out how much wood you’ll need to use, what wood will need to be cut to fit the space, and how the wood will need to be laid.
  5. Paint a thick layer of contact cement on the countertop and reapply where needed.
  6. Place the wood on the counter in the position that you want it.
  7. When the wood is dry, you can apply the finish to the wood the add a smooth texture to the wood as well a bit of shine that will make your counter look polished. Be sure to apply three layers of this finish for the best results. Polyurethane is typically used to seal wood surfaces and is great for waterproofing the wood; however, this does not technically mean that it is safe to eat off of. There is a multitude of urethane finishes that are FDA approved so that food can come into contact with your counter.

*You’ll want to use gloves and goggles for this process to avoid splinters and sawdust from getting into your fingers and eyes.

Touching Up Your Countertop

With these methods of painting and placing decals there must be future touchups because while they are both good solutions, they are more temporary than the more permanent solutions of resin and concrete.

A bit of maintenance may be required to keep up appearances. Decals may need to be replaced every few months because when dirt and water regularly come into contact with the decal, it will start to peel up and will lose its adhesive qualities. When it comes to painting, if a topcoat was applied, the topcoat should be reapplied every once in a while to ensure that the topcoat hasn’t worn through.

If the wood countertop cracks, then you can fill the crack with wax or seal it with another thick coat of topper.

There shouldn’t be any issues when it comes to concrete renovations on your counter; however, depending on the resin you use, it may need a touch up every few years.

Preventing Damages to the New Countertop

It is hard to protect a counter when its purpose is to be a surface to work on, but there are still some precautions that you can take. One way to ensure that your counter doesn’t have any unnecessary nicks in it is to invest in a cutting board so that you don’t have to cut on the counter.

  • To keep from heat damaging a paint finish, you should lay towels or pot holders down in order to keep the heat from the oven or stove directly on the counter to a minimum. Paint and decals can also stain easily, so any substance spilled on the counter should be wiped up immediately to prevent it from soaking into the covered countertop.
  • If there is a decal on the counter, keeping the water to a minimum would be best (though decals only work best as a temporary option).
  • Hot water on a resin counter can also test the substance’s durability. Otherwise, there’s not a lot that can damage the resin. Only warmed sulfuric acid or concentrated hydrochloric acid can dissolve the resin, and they must sit on the resin for a certain amount of time before the resin starts to dissolve.
  • Wood finishes can be compromised by substances like acetone. Acetone is found in fingernail polish remover, so just be sure to steer clear of using it around wood surfaces with a finish. If fingernail polish remover or acetones are spilled on the counter, be sure to wipe it up immediately to make sure that only minimal damage, if any damage, occurs to the wood.

It is also safer to keep hot objects away from the wood because, while it can stand certain temperatures, wood is still flammable, and it is a safe bet to keep hotter items off of a wood counter. Foods and juices can also stain wood countertops, so it is important to wipe down the counter as soon as something is spilled on it.

The best way to cover a tile countertop depends on what bothers you about your tile countertop. Color and texture can be easy fixes, but if you want to cover the entirety of the countertop, your best bet is to cover it with a resin or durable wood. However, at this point, it might just be easier to rip out those old tile countertops and start with a fresh new look.

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.
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