Learn how to remove countertops to save you money on a kitchen remodel. This project is fairly easy for a beginner, but may require some help from strong friends.
Often times, installers won’t tell you about the hidden costs of their installation prices. Current prices for removing old countertops are about $17-30 a square foot! In fact, we saved, on average, $650 by removing the old countertops ourselves during several renovations including bathrooms and kitchens.
If you are relatively handy, removing countertops is a pretty straight forward do it yourself.
Tools needed to remove countertops
- Screwdriver or drill with attachment
- A Caulk knife or box cutter
- Adjustable Wrench (to loosen pipes for sink, faucet or stove)
- Putty knife
- prybar (to remove the 4 inch lip surround if you have one)
- Reciprocating saw – only needed to break very large or heavy countertops when disposing. Do not cut stone countertops.
- Tools for patching walls, if necessary.
Important tip: Wear the proper gear such as gloves, masks, glasses, and proper shoes. You never know when you are going to drop a hammer on your foot or step on a nail. You should also use the proper safety equipment to prepare for the unexpected, particularly if you have an older home. Are you prepared to deal with such hazards as asbestos, lead paint, or mold?
Empty the cabinets underneath
Dust will happen. Dropping something may happen. That will leave your dishes and bake-ware exposed.
Uninstall appliances and Drains
Remove any connecting pipes such as those to the sink and faucet first. Gas lines or electrical lines to a stove also need to be shut off and secured for removal.
How To Remove Counter Tops
There are essentially only two ways in which countertops are installed. They either screwed into brackets, as is the case of laminate counter tops, or they simply rest on the cabinets themselves.
For any type of countertop, first remove the 4 inch surround if you have one. Cut any caulk that attaches it to the wall and use a pry bar to gently pry away from the wall.
To remove quartz or granite countertops, there is often a caulk line between the cabinets and the countertop. To remove, use a utility knife, and cut the caulk line, being careful not to mar the cabinet faces. Granite and other stone surfaces are not bracketed to the cabinets themselves.
To remove laminate, plastic, or sometimes molded surface countertops, check for brackets and screws underneath. These are usually in the corners, but can be anywhere along the frame. These types of countertops may also be caulked in addition to the brackets.
After any screws are removed and caulk to cut enough to release the top, gently lift the countertops from the front. Gently scrape any excess caulk before replacing.
That’s all there is to it!
After You Get New Countertops
After removing countertops, there are a few tips to check for during the installation of the replacement.
Check for Proper Fit
If you are also replacing your sink or any appliance with connections, make sure the connections will properly fit before the install. Make sure the pipes, gas lines, and electrical are long enough for a potential change in height. This is particularly true if you are changing the depth of the sink. Will the garbage disposal still hook up properly? Check not only how much room you have under the sink but also that the lines coming from the wall will accommodate a change in height.
Many people do not realize that sinks only include the shell in the price. You will have to purchase the drain kits if reinstalling yourself.
How to Check for Level
It’s a fact that houses settle and that cabinets may not be level. A good countertop installer will make sure that your counter tops are level. However, you can check by placing a level on the countertops before your installers leave.
Review and Approve Everything
Very few things are cut on site. If you have a natural stone, make sure you approve not only the slab, but the placement of the cuts as well. There may be a mar in a section of the counter top you want to avoid or you want to minimize any seams.
Ask to see the slab with the cut markings on it before they cut. The outlets behind our bar were not correctly measured. They had to bring out a new piece a couple of days later to fix that but it was worth it.
Another example is reviewing where you want the seams to lay. On a laminate bar top, we made absolutely sure they would use one solid piece without seams because it was 45 inches wide. Reviewing and asking questions is very important when you are working with any company.
Our kitchen remodel: