Turn off the power to the kitchen.
Remove the electrical switch plates and loosen the electrical receptacles and switches, and detach the under-sink plumbing. Remove the existing sink.
Demolish and remove the existing countertop, which was Formica in this case. Remove all screws from underneath the countertop. Cut the construction adhesive and lift off the countertops.
Don't pry off the countertops because that might damage the cabinets underneath.
Check the cabinets to make sure they are level and square. Also check the walls to make sure they are straight.
A spirit level will show if the wall is straight and the counter is level (Image 1).
To tell if the cabinets meet at a 90-degree angle, put a carpenter's square at the apex of the two 90-degree corners (Image 2), and if the cabinets are flat against both sides of the square, the cabinets are square to one another.
Move and shim the cabinets into as perfect a square and as level as possible.
Re-fasten any cabinets that are inadequately secure. This is especially important with backer board since the board and plywood follow any imperfections.
Measure the areas where tile will be placed to determine the amount of tile that will be needed.
How Much Tile Will You Need?
Take the length times the width of the backsplash and countertops.
Subtract the sink and window openings.
Add up the surface area of the glass-tile accents and subtract those.
This will give the square footage of both the ceramic and glass tiles.
Check the structural integrity of the cabinets by pulling on them and checking for loose or inadequate fastening.
Degrease the walls with a household cleaner and sponge.
Measure the cabinets for the plywood deck, and use a steel measuring tape and chalk line to rip a 3/4" exterior-grade plywood sheet to fit the space.
With a circular saw make small cuts 6" to 8" on center all over the plywood base. This is also known as the dot-and-dash method, which will allow the plywood to expand and contract and will prevent the countertop from warping later.
Pre-cut and dry fit the backer board panels.