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How to Install New Countertops on Old Cabinets

My DIY kitchen makeover included the installation of new countertops on old cabinets and I will show you how I did it!

One of my favourite before and after projects is a great DIY kitchen makeover.

And, of course, everyone loves those gorgeous throw-the-budget-out-the-window stunning kitchen renovations.

But most of us don’t get to do those kind of projects more than once in a lifetime. If ever.

So I love little customized kitchen renos like this one that allows you to give your kitchen a whole new updated look with minimal output.

Minimal time (this took less then one day). Minimal expense (all of the countertops came to less then $200 from Ikea). And Minimal Stress (it really was a pretty simple project, as far as DIY renovations go.

If you want to refresh your old, tired kitchen cabinets with some paint and new countertops, then I’ve got some great tips about how to install new countertops on old cabinets.

Tips for installing new countertops on old cabinets poster.


We have to begin with another quick look at “The Before” of this kitchen.

I kind of have a thing for “the befores”.

Sometimes I pour over realty listings just so I can enjoy the “befores” and imagine what the afters could be like.

Is that weird? Wait, don’t answer that.

An old small kitchen with wooden cabinets and white counters.

This old countertop was a quite a custom installation. There was a little pop-up table height section just off then end of the countertop with a plug and everything! And although it was an interesting feature, it wasn’t something we wanted to keep. We decided we wanted to keep an overhang, but to leave it at the same height as the rest of the countertop – perfect for a counter height stool or two to tuck underneath.

An extra counter overhang beside the main countertop.

The “backsplash” was made of the same laminate as the counters… and the sink and faucet had definitely both seen better days.

An old stainless steel sink and faucet.


We started by removing the tired old countertop. The way you go about this, without damaging the cabinets, will vary depending upon the way that the original countertop has been attached.

Our countertop was a custom homemade job, and the old DIY-er who originally attached this countertop REALLY attached it, if you know what I mean. Like, about 7500 nails per square inch.

Anyhow, we used a combination of a pry bar and hammer (to carefully loosen the nails) and then a Dewalt Sawzall (reciprocating saw) to cut through some of the nails.

Taking out the cabinet doors in the kitchen.

A man using a power tool in the kitchen to demo the counters.

We also cut the old countertop into sections to remove to make it easier – especially once we got down towards the sink area. Obviously, you have to watch carefully with your sawzall so that you aren’t ruining the “old cabinets” that you are planning to paint and re-use.

Cutting out a section of the countertop with a power tool.

Removing the sink in the kitchen.

Once we got down to the end where that plug was, we decided we would built a little wall behind the new countertop to move the plug box into.

The counters removed in the kitchen and the plug box remains.

Once your old countertop has been removed, check to see if your cabinet surface is level. We had to add some thin strips of wood along the top in order to create a more level surface for the new countertop to sit on. {When the whole thing was said and done, we added some thin trim to the outside face of the cabinetry directly below the countertop and dapped it all into place. Once covered with a couple of coats of paint you couldn’t even notice the changes.}

We used construction adhesive all along the newly levelled surface, and then placed the new countertop down. We purchased these ready-to-go countertops from Ikea (faux butcher block).

Using adhesive on the top of the wood structure before placing the new countertops.

To hold the countertop in place while the glue set we applied pressure through this homemade wooden contraption.

Using a wooden contraction to hold the countertop in place while the glue dries.

With the countertop pressed and held into place, it was time to attach it to the cabinetry using screws from underneath.

Screwing the counters in from underneath using a screw gun.

Once it had all set, it was time to add the sink and faucet. We laid it all out, and decided where the faucet should be placed.

Marking on the wood in pencil.

Drilling into the new countertop.

Once the new faucet was ready to go, we laid down the sink and traced around it.

Installing the new sink.

We drilled out each corner to create room for the power jigsaw.

Drilling into the wood on the counter.

The wood marked before using the jigsaw.

And then used the jigsaw to cut along the lines.

Tape can be placed along the edge of the line in order to prevent the laminate from chipping when you cut it with the jigsaw.

Using tape to mark where to cut with the jigsaw.

The hole for the sink cut in the kitchen.

To cut the smaller section we used a table saw to get it to the correct length. We also decided to butt up the finished edges of the countertops so as to ensure that no water can penetrates the laminate surface through the seam between the two pieces. (Of course, once the countertop was installed we also siliconed the seam with a waterproof kitchen silicone). The Ikea countertops come with edging strips that you can easily attach on whichever edge you need to – the instructions were easy to follow and they were simple to attach.

The kitchen in the middle of the renovations.

We didn’t install the faucet until after we had the backsplash finished as we wanted to be sure that we could easily tile without getting mastic and grout all over the beautiful new faucet (trust me, I would have). The instructions that came with the sink (also from Ikea) and the Moen Hensley faucet were both really easy to follow and we didn’t have any trouble installing either.

Installing the band new faucet in the kitchen.

We put some simple little brackets that we had on hand underneath the base of the countertop overhang to give it some additional support.

The new countertop made quite a polished difference, right? From old, dark, flat panelled cabinets to a whole new stylish fresh white space.

Visit here for the full details on the kitchen makeover, including Before and Afters and the BUDGET.

The new counters in the kitchen with white walls.

A side view of the new kitchen counters.

Wooden counters, white backsplash, and a small light in the kitchen.

The kitchen and the dining room empty after renovations.

White kitchen cabinets, white stove, and a black microwave.

Do you have an old kitchen and want to freshen it up with paint and new countertops?

This is awesome! Pin it to remember it!

Installing new countertops on old cabinets graphic.

A little more inspiration

Other posts and projects that I’ve shared in this Investment Property Renovation Series…

And if you are into kitchen renovations, then take a look at our home kitchen makeover... {not done on such a thrifty budget}!

A white kitchen with light blue island and pendant hanging lights above it.


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  1. I love the idea of refreshing my kitchen by getting new countertops. Painting the cabinets isn’t necessary. I just want countertops that really pop out.

  2. This is such a great description! Great job posting photos describing all the steps visually. That was a wonderful selection for a sink too! The entire project came out great and I commend you for taking the time to make this! I’m sure it’s helped a lot of people!

  3. I really appreciate these tips on installing countertops. I think I want to hire someone to come and install a new counter for us. Hopefully, I can do some research and find the best remodeling contractor to help us get the best countertop possible.

  4. Beautiful job! I’ve thought about refacing my old cabinets. I love the beautiful colors you used. Very neutral and bold. This project inspires me to do something new! Thanks.

  5. Thank you for suggesting making sure the counter surface is level. My husband and I are wanting to install a new countertop. I hope we can find a company that will sell us one we love.

  6. Kitchen is one of the important part of you home. Kitchen renovation is a good project. If your kitchen condition is not good then you need to renovate this. For this you first you should make a plan in which way you want to renovate the kitchen. After that decide the budget plan. As there are different types of flooring material so you have to decide which flooring material should you select. Appliances are also important part. And if you want to install new counter-tops on an old cabinets then your blog will give the best idea.

  7. I really appreciate you posting before and after photos of the kitchen projects you have done. I am a visual learner, so being able to see the difference means a lot to me. I have always thought that I would want to hire a contractor for my first kitchen renovation or installation so I could watch the process and get a feel for how it’s done.

  8. I appreciate the advice on how to install your own countertops on older cabinets. My wife really likes the look of marble on the counters and so we might be doing that as our summer project. I would hate to do it only to find out that we did it wrong, however. We might just end up calling someone. Thanks for the help!

  9. Hi, how does that seam look now? I notice the white line, my kitchen is an “L” shape and im considering just doing the 98 inch one to butt up against the short part of the L, which will be a different piece, but that will leave a nice long seam… Thanks for any feedback, Anne

    1. I too was curious about the seam. We have an L shape countertop area plus a large island in the middle so I’m thinking it wouldn’t work using this Ikea product unless we have lots of seams. Maybe not ideal…

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