Upgrading your home’s countertops can make a huge difference in its appearance and value. Laminate countertops may have served you well for years. But they can start to show wear and look dated over time. Replacing laminate with stylish, durable quartz countertops can give your kitchen or bath a fresh, modern look. Here’s a step-by-step guide to changing countertops from laminate to quartz.
Assess Your Current Countertops
Before deciding on a quartz replacement, take a careful look at your existing laminate countertops. Check for:
Condition. Are your countertops warped, cracked, stained, or peeling? Deep scratches, burns, or other damage that penetrates the laminate surface cannot be repaired.
Appearance. Is the color or pattern outdated? Solid surfacing laminates tend to look more modern than printed laminates.
Functionality. Do your countertops lack convenient features like an integrated backsplash, bullnose edged, or special cutouts?
If your countertops are in good condition, simply updating the color or edge profile may freshen their look. But if they are damaged or lack key features, quartz offers an attractive and very durable alternative.
Choose Your New Quartz Countertop
Once you decide to replace laminate with quartz, selecting your new countertop is an exciting first step! Keep these tips in mind when choosing:
One of the best features of quartz is the wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes available. Options include:
- Solid colors like whites, grays, and blacks for a clean, modern look.
- Patterns that mimic natural stone, concrete, wood grain, and more.
- Polish levels from glossy to matte. A honed or leathered finish helps avoid visible scratches.
Select a color and finish that complements your cabinetry and flooring. Cool grays pair well with stainless steel and glossy white cabinets. Warmer tones match cherry or espresso cabinets.
Quartz countertops are exceptionally hard and scratch-resistant. They’re composed of ground quartz crystals held together by resin. Look for brands and product lines known for durability.
Avoid lighter colors and solid whites if stains are a big concern. Opt for darker, busier patterns which hide marks better.
Standard quartz thickness is 3/4″. Go thicker if you plan on having a bullnose edge or want a heavy duty work surface. Edges can be built up to 1-1/2″ thick.
Have a professional measure your existing countertops. Custom fabrication will ensure a perfect fit. Most quartz manufacturers work with certified fabricators to cut and install their products.
Budget $80-150 per square foot for materials and fabrication. The total depends on the brand, pattern, and edge treatments. It’s a significant investment, but one that adds real value.
Quality quartz tops come with at least a 10 year warranty. Some offer 15 or lifetime residential coverage. Be sure to register your new tops to activate coverage.
Remove Your Old Laminate Countertops
Once you’ve selected your new quartz countertops, it’s time to remove the old laminate. This requires care to avoid damaging your cabinets or walls. Follow these steps:
Remove everything from your countertops and empty all cabinets within the workspace. Have somewhere else to prepare food while the job is underway.
Protect Surrounding Surfaces
Cover floors, cabinets, and walls bordering the countertops with rosin paper, plastic sheeting, or drop cloths. Use painters tape for clean edges.
Disconnect Sink and Faucet
Turn off the water supply lines beneath the sink and disconnect them. Unscrew any mounting hardware connecting the sink to the countertop.
You may be able to remove the sink bowl without disconnecting the faucet.
Remove Backsplash Tiles
Carefully pry off any backsplash tiles adhered to the wall above the back edge of the countertop. Scrape away leftover thinset adhesive.
Locate all screws, braces, or brackets securing the countertop to the cabinet base. Unscrew them slowly to see how the top separates.
Insert a pry bar into seams and gently twist to pop the top free. Take care not to damage cabinet edges.
Cut Countertop Into Manageable Sections
Use a circular saw with a fine-toothed blade to cut the freed countertop into smaller pieces for easy removal. Make relief cuts next to corners and walls.
Wear eye protection – laminates can chip and splinter when cut.
Remove Countertop Pieces
Lift each section and carefully maneuver it out. Have an extra set of hands to help prevent cracking corners or gouging walls.
Prepare the Cabinets
With your laminate countertops demolished, now you can prep the cabinets for new quartz tops. This involves:
Vacuum up all debris, dust, and crumbs from the cabinet tops and interiors. Use a degreasing cleaner to remove grime and old caulk.
Inspect for Damage
Examine all newly uncovered cabinet surfaces. Look for loose joints, cracks, warped boards, or mold. Make any needed repairs now before installing new countertops.
Adjust Cabinet Heights
Standard quartz thickness is 3/4”. If your laminate was thinner, shim under cabinets to raise them up. Keep tops of base cabinets at 36” and wall cabinets at 54” for proper ergonomics.
Check for Level
Use a 4′ level across cabinet fronts to identify any uneven areas on the substrate. Shim as needed to ensure your countertops will be perfectly level.
Install New Quartz Countertops
Your kitchen is now prepped and ready for fresh new quartz tops! Here are tips for a smooth installation:
Allow Countertops to Acclimate
Have your fabricator deliver your finished quartz tops 2-3 days before installation. Keep them in the room to adjust to temperature and humidity. Never install cold tops.
Quartz is very heavy, so it must be well supported. Use brackets, angle irons, and silicone adhesive to bond tops to cabinet bases. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
Seal Edges and Seams
Apply a thin bead of silicone caulk where the backsplashes and countertops meet walls. Also caulk seams between sections for impervious joints.
Reinstall Sink and Faucet
Lower sink into the pre-cut opening and reattach plumbing. Reconnect supply lines and turn on water. Seal with caulk.
Clean and Finish
Remove any leftover debris or caulk with a soft cloth. Use rubbing alcohol to eliminate residue. Finally, apply polishing cream and buff your beautiful new quartz tops to a shine!
Upgrading to sleek, modern quartz can totally transform your outdated laminate countertops. Paying special care throughout the removal and installation process will ensure your new tops enhance your home for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Changing Countertops from Laminate to Quartz
Changing your countertops is a significant project. Quartz offers luxury, but laminates have come a long way too. Answering these common questions will help you decide the best option.
Is it worth replacing laminate countertops with quartz?
Quartz is better than laminate in durability, heat/scratch-resistance, and appearance. The investment of $80-150 per square foot pays off in added home value. But newer laminates can also look nice for less cost.
How do you remove laminate countertops without damaging cabinets?
Removing laminate counters without damage takes patience. Relieve seams by cutting caulk beads. Use a pry bar and gentle twisting motion to separate top from cabinets. Protect walls and cabinet fronts when removing pieces.
Can you install quartz over existing laminate?
It is possible to install quartz over laminate. But this risks trapping moisture and is not recommended. For best adherence and flatness, it’s best to remove old laminate first.
What should I look for when picking quartz?
For quartz, priority features are durability, scratch/stain-resistance, and pattern/color options. Look for top brands known for quality. Get as thick of a top as possible. Honed finishes hide scratches.
How thick are quartz countertops?
Most quartz countertops are 3/4″ thick. Thicker 1-1/4″ options are available for heavy duty use. Edges can be built up to 1-1/2″ thickness. Avoid very thin budget quartz products.
Do quartz countertops need to be sealed?
Quartz does not require sealing. Its non-porous surface resists stains far better than natural stone. Using sealers or waxes can actually damage quartz and void warranties. Simply clean with soap and water.
Is it cheaper to refinish laminate or replace with quartz?
Refinishing laminate costs around $350-850 per section. New quartz starts at $80 per square foot installed. With enough damage/wear, replacement becomes the better value despite higher initial cost.
How do you cut laminate countertops?
To cut laminates (either removing old or custom-cutting new), use a circular saw with a fine-toothed blade. For sink cutouts, use a jigsaw. Make relief cuts when removing large sections. Always wear eye protection – laminate chips can be dangerous.
Can quartz counters be installed DIY?
Quartz is very heavy,needs perfect support, and has intricate seams/edges. Installation is best left to experienced fabricators and technicians. But DIYers can handle templating, sink cutouts, attaching backsplash, and caulking.
Upgrading your worn laminate countertops to beautiful quartz can totally transform the look and function of your kitchen or bath. While expensive initially, quartz adds value and provides gorgeous durability. With proper planning and careful technique, a successful switch from laminate to quartz is definitely achievable as a DIY project. Just be sure to thoroughly prep your cabinets, finish edges smoothly, and support these heavy tops properly. Your new quartz countertops will then provide endless enjoyment for years to come.