Can You Install Your own New Countertop?

do it yourselfer with hammerAs you start crunching the numbers on the cost of your new kitchen countertop, you might be thinking about installing it yourself. After all, not only might you learn some new skills along the way, the idea of saving money is always an attractive thought.

Is countertop installation a do it yourself project?  Does hiring a professional make more sense?  In this countertops guide you’ll learn what you need to know to make the decision.

The DIY'er Skills

Depending on what type of countertops you are purchasing, basic carpentry skills might be all you need.  For instance, laminate countertops offer fairly straightforward installation if the pieces have been made correctly.  If you need to do some planning to get a countertop to fit, or cut in a sink opening, it can get a bit trickier.  Heavy countertops such as granite or quartz need at least 2 sets of hands and a very good understanding of how to install the countertops in a way that doesn’t create torque which can lead to cracks or stress fractures.  The same is true for marble countertops.  For tile, getting the tiles straight and correctly spaced simply takes experience.  It might be a good idea to gain that experience on a project less visible than the kitchen counter, which is one of the main areas a visitor will see.  Many concrete countertops are framed and poured onsite while others are done in a shop setting.  Either way, this is one type of countertop where a highly-trained hand is an absolute must if you want the finished product to look great.

Before you take on a DIY project, learn all you can about the skills needed for installation.  You may find you have them and want to give it a try.  You might also come to the conclusion that due to the highly visible nature of the location, and the costliness of the material, leaving installation to someone who does it every day is the best option.

Specialized Countertop Tools

Again, some installations require only common tools that most handy people have in their possession –  drill and bits, skill saw, circular saw, planer, sander, etc.  Other installations require tools not common to most other projects.  In your research about installation skills required, make a list of tools.  Make sure you have them or have access to them, and more importantly that you know how to use them for the specific application required.  Having the tool and knowing the technique are both important.
Time

Some countertop installation is very time consuming.  Do you have a couple of weekends to dedicate to the job?  Is that worth it to you?  That’s a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

Before You Decide

It won’t hurt to get estimates for your kitchen or bathroom countertops that include installation.  Ask the countertop contractors to break down material cost and labor cost, though some might be reluctant to do this.  Once you’ve got an idea of the installation cost you can decide whether it’s worth it to try to do it yourself.  In general, those with proven skills and experience may be candidates for doing it themselves.  For most of the rest of us, the specialization required in many types of countertop installation make it a wise choice to leave the installation to a countertop professional.

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