Demolishing your old kitchen countertops

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ March 21, 2012

You'll find thousands of home improvement tips on the Web for kitchen remodeling. A contractor friend always jokes that there are articles on installing new cabinets, tiles and backsplashes, but rarely advice on demolishing the existing kitchen. No, you don't call in a few heavily muscled thugs armed with jackhammers. Back up a moment.

I was happy to discover that the DIY Network has instructions for demolishing a countertop before laying down a fiber-cement backer board as the foundation for the new counters. The first step, as with any project where power is concerned, shut off the electrical supply to the kitchen and turn off the water. Detach the under-sink plumbing and remove the sink itself. If the sink is glued to the surface, jiggle it loose with a putty knife. If the sink is held in place by half-round tiles, remove the tiles and pry out the adhesive and the sink should lift out without any difficulty.

Disconnect power and supply lines to the stove. Then, take out your cooktops by removing mounting screws and gently pushing up on the fixture from below. In removing the old countertops, sink and cook top, be sure to ask for help lifting and carrying.

Removing old countertops

Unless you have the money to gut the entire kitchen, it's not a good idea to wrench off the old countertop with a pry bar and hammer. You can unfasten the retaining screws and hardware from under the counters and detach the counter surface from the old adhesive by prying gently between the underlayment and the mortar. If necessary, cut the old counter into sections with a reciprocating saw and remove it parts at a time. Remove any old underlayment.

As with all kitchen remodeling projects, pay attention to protecting the backsplash and wall paint while you work. If you plan on removing the backspash and replacing it along with the new countertop, then you can pry it up with a putty knife. Be sure the blade is not cutting into the wall. You can use a utility knife to score the caulk that lines the edges of the backsplash.

Aligning your cabinets

DIY Network recommends that you take this time to check if your kitchen cabinets are level and square. Tighten them down after making adjustments.

Dispose of the old counters responsibly. Some people sell them through online listings. Habit for Humanity takes usable sections, or your trash collection company may have other suggestions.

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