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How to Install a Limestone Countertop and Matching Backsplash

DIY experts show how to install a limestone countertop, cut out a sink hole and tile a backsplash to complete a remodeled Tuscan-style kitchen.

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complete a remodeled Tuscan style kitchen

Step 1: Prep for Countertop Installation

Limestone counters coming from the fabricator are cut to fit for depth and length. Pieces that meet at seams will be epoxied to each other , so vacuum the area completely to be clear of all dust and dirt. In this project the hole for the double sink was scored at the fabricator’s but it will be cut out on location. The countertops will be installed before the cutting begins.

Clear everything away from the top of the base cabinets. Remove all obstacles in and leading into the kitchen, especially from the area where the countertops are delivered. Moving around furniture or other items while carrying heavy stone slabs is not easy. Make sure you have two or more helpers when lifting the countertops. Depending on the size of the various pieces, each limestone slab can weigh 200 pounds or more.

Step 2: Dry Fit and Shim to Level

Lay pieces in for a dry fit (Image 1).

Make sure the two sections are level across the countertop and especially at the joint. Shim if necessary until level. Keep the seams approximately 1/8” apart.

lay pieces of limestone in for dry fit

Step 3: Epoxy the Seams

Prior to mixing the epoxy, make sure the tint that is added to the epoxy matches the colors and shade of the limestone countertop.

To prep the seam for the epoxy, lay a piece of masking tape across the length of each seam.

Score the tape with a utility knife, making a clean cut into which the epoxy is inserted.

Mix the two-part epoxy according to manufacturer’s directions. Also, add the appropriate amount of tint to match the countertop.

When the epoxy is ready, use the popsicle stick or a small piece of wood to fill the gap with epoxy. Fill the gap (Image 1) quickly as epoxy firms up fast.

Push the slabs together, checking all seams for perfect matching.

With a straightedge scraper or a razor blade, scrape off any excess epoxy or tint that squishes out of the seam. Use de-natured alcohol and a rag to remove any epoxy on the actual countertop. Move quickly because it hardens fast and it can stain the countertop.

fill gap with epoxy

Step 4: Cut Out the Sink Hole

Using the template from the sink, the initial starter holes for the double sink in this kitchen were cut out and the perimeter was scored (cut partially through) at the fabricator’s shop.

First clamp in the wooden blocks under the cutouts in the two back corners. Put the clamps through the starter holes to prevent the cut-out limestone from dropping once the perimeter is cut out all the way through.

Using a diamond-blade angle grinder (Image 1), follow the score and cut all the way through the counter, keeping your cut as vertical as possible. Have a helper vacuum the dust as you go, which makes it much easier to see the outline and make a precise cut.

Remove the clamps and carefully lift out the cut-out sink hole.

cut out the sink hole

Step 5: Secure the Countertop and Seal

Clean up the dust and wipe down the countertops with a damp rag.

Secure the countertop to the base with a bead of silicone. The silicone and the weight of the countertop will keep it snugly in place.

Apply sealer by wiping it on with a clean lint-free rag (Image 1).

apply sealer to countertop

Step 6: Tile the Backsplash

The backsplash tiles (Image 1) in this project look a lot like the limestone countertops, but their actually porcelain and are laid in sheets, making them very easy to install. A row of accent border tiles are added over the sheets.

Prep the area by covering the countertop with kraft paper. Remove all receptacle plates; store the screws in a handy cup.

Tape off the back edge of the countertop with masking tape.

Lay out tiles to see how they fit, and make adjustments to make sure you have the most "whole" tiles possible when you are complete. To doublecheck, you can marek reference point in the middle of the backsplash and measure out from that reference point to each end of the backsplash, making sure to include grout lines in your measurement.

If you have to cut tiles to fit around electrical outlets or corners, use a Rubi cutter. If there are a lot of cuts, a wet saw, both of which can be rented from tool rental yards.

Start at the bottom of the backsplash and work your way up. Sometimes the weight of the tile sheets can make them slide downward. Be neat and wipe off excess mastic from tile fronts as you go.

Using a v-notched trowel tipped at a 30-degree angle (Image 2), apply mastic to the bottom area of backsplash.

Put up the accent border tile by back buttering each piece: Apply the mastic onto the back of each tile and then put the tile on the wall. Make sure the accent pieces are relatively parallel to the countertop.

Allow the mastic to dry overnight before grouting.

Step 7: Grout the Backsplash

Make sure the countertops are protected with kraft paper.

Tape above and around the edges of the tile backsplash with masking tape.

Mix the grout according to the directions on package of selected grout.

Using a rubber grout float at a 30-degree angle, float or push the grout into the gaps (Image 1). Fill all grout lines.

Wipe the grout off with a clean, damp sponge, rinsing after each pass in a clean bucket of water. Wipe until the tiles are clean and the grout lines are even. Check for indentations or missed areas.

grout the backsplash

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