Can You Install Countertops After Backsplash?

Installing new countertops can transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Many homeowners opt to replace their countertops and backsplash together for a complete kitchen makeover. However, if your budget is limited, you may consider staggering these projects. So can you install countertops after backsplash?

The short answer is yes, you can install countertops after a backsplash. However, proper planning and prep work are required to achieve a seamless look. Care must be taken to remove the existing backsplash without damaging the wall behind it or the countertops. The new countertop installation may also require alterations to achieve a proper fit and finish with the existing backsplash.

Overview of Installing Countertops After Backsplash

Installing countertops after a backsplash is possible but can be tricky. Here is an overview of the process:

  • Remove existing countertops. The old countertops need to be carefully removed without damaging the backsplash. Countertops are often fastened to the cabinets with screws, silicone caulk, and/or adhesive.
  • Prep the walls. Once the old countertops are gone, the walls under and around the backsplash need patching, sanding, and painting to get them ready for the new tops.
  • Modify backsplash. The existing backsplash may need slight modifications like grinding or cutting to allow the new countertop to fit correctly.
  • Install new countertops. Standard countertop installation techniques apply. The new tops must be scribed, fastened, and sealed to the existing backsplash.
  • Seal and finish. Caulk and sealant are used to completely join the countertops to the backsplash for a streamlined look. The edges are finished smoothly.

Proper planning is required to get accurate measurements, select countertops and edging that will integrate well with the backsplash, and budget extra time for the careful removal and installation work involved.

Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

Here is a more detailed step-by-step guide on how to install countertops after you already have a backsplash in place:

Remove Existing Countertops

The first step is taking out your old countertops. This requires care to avoid damaging your backsplash in the process:

  • Clear countertops of everything and disconnect sinks or cooktops.
  • Using a utility knife, cut through any caulk sealing the countertop to the backsplash.
  • Remove any screws or other fasteners connecting the countertops to the cabinets.
  • Wedge a pry bar into the seam between the countertop and cabinet and gently pry upwards to break the bond. Work slowly around the perimeter.
  • For stubborn adhesive, use a multi-tool oscillator to vibrate the bond loose. Take care not to gouge into the backsplash.
  • Once freed, lift the countertop off carefully. Use additional help or suction cups if needed.
  • Remove any remaining caulk, adhesive, or leftover countertop bits. Avoid damaging the backsplash.

Prep the Walls and Backsplash

With the countertops removed, the walls and backsplash need proper prep:

  • Repair and patch any wall damage or flaws behind where the countertops were. Let dry completely.
  • Sand any uneven wall areas. Ensure at least 1/8” of smooth, flat surface for countertops to adhere to.
  • Clean and prepare surfaces. Wipe down the backsplash and walls with denatured alcohol.
  • Apply primer and paint. Use bonding primer for best adhesion. Paint color should match existing backsplash.
  • Let the paint cure fully per manufacturer’s directions before installing new tops.
  • Make any minor backsplash modifications needed for proper fit (see next section).

Modify Backsplash as Needed

Slight backsplash alterations may be needed for your new countertop to fit correctly:

  • Drill holes to accommodate new plumbing or hardware like sink faucets or stove backguards.
  • Cut/grind edges to allow new countertop to fit flush against backsplash. Only do minor grinding.
  • Remove chunks to create space for countertop overhang or aprons. Only remove what is essential.
  • Fill gaps between new countertop and old backsplash with colored caulk to match.

Any backsplash mods should stay minimal. Make only the adjustments needed for proper fit and appearance.

Install the New Countertops

Once the walls and backsplash are prepped, the new countertop installation begins:

  • Dry fit the new countertops against the existing backsplash and make any final adjustments.
  • Apply adhesive per manufacturer instructions. Denatured alcohol helps adhesion on sealed backsplashes.
  • Fasten from underneath with screws into cabinets. Avoid backsplash contact.
  • Clamp countertops in place until adhesive cures. Use shims to prevent sliding.
  • Scribe seams for abutting countertop pieces and backsplash. Trim countertops with router or circular saw.
  • For seamed countertops, use biscuits, splines, or battens to align and reinforce. Clamp until the seam bonds cure.
  • Carefully cut sink or stove openings as marked. Smooth cut edges with sandpaper.
  • Seal all seams and edges with waterproof wood glue for extra adhesion.

Take your time during installation to achieve a perfect fit against the existing backsplash.

Seal and Finish for Seamless Look

The final step is sealing and finishing:

  • Caulk where countertop and backsplash meet with colored silicone sealant to match your backsplash.
  • Tool the caulk smooth. Remove any excess. Let dry completely.
  • Sand countertop edges and seams smooth with fine grit sandpaper. Avoid scratching backsplash tiles.
  • Reinstall sinks, faucets, and any other fixtures. Seal with caulk or adhesive.
  • Polish and clean the countertops well to remove any residue and complete the project.

Thorough sealing and finishing ensures your new countertops and existing backsplash now have a cohesive, integrated look.

Tips for Seamless Results

Here are some helpful tips for achieving the best possible results when installing new countertops after your backsplash is already in place:

  • Carefully measure and select countertop thickness and edging to match the existing backsplash profile.
  • Take detailed notes and photos of your backsplash design to replicate the layout.
  • Limit backsplash cutting. Instead, scribe countertops for tight fit.
  • Use caulk in matching backsplash color for clean transitions.
  • Select countertop material and edging that complements the backsplash color and style.
  • Plan for extra installation time needed to work around existing backsplash.
  • Hire an experienced countertop installer familiar with fitting countertops to existing backsplashes.
  • Take care removing old caulk and countertops to prevent damaging backsplash.

Proper planning and care during each step can result in a cohesive, integrated look between your new countertops and existing backsplash.

Cost to Install Countertops After Backsplash

Installing countertops after a backsplash typically costs more than replacing both surfaces together. Extra steps are required for careful removal of the old countertops and custom fitting the new tops to the existing backsplash.

You can expect to pay $100 – $200 per linear foot to install countertops after backsplash. The total cost depends on:

  • Countertop material (laminate, granite, quartz, etc.)
  • Linear footage of countertops
  • Backsplash modifications needed
  • Accessibility of the space
  • Required plumbing or electrical work
  • Removal and disposal fees for old countertops
  • Your location (labor rates vary)

Many homeowners pay $2,500 – $5,000 to install new countertops after a backsplash, depending on their kitchen size and customization. Get multiple estimates to find the best value.

Hiring a Professional vs. DIY

Installing countertops after a backsplash is an advanced project requiring expertise for a quality result. Hiring a professional contractor is recommended for most homeowners.

Benefits of hiring a pro include:

  • Expertise fitting countertops to existing backsplashes
  • Right tools and materials for a seamless finish
  • Efficient installation without damage
  • Able to fabricate and install custom countertops
  • Provides warranty on workmanship

Doing it yourself can work if you:

  • Have advanced DIY skills and tools
  • Will invest significant time into the project
  • Are prepared to carefully remove the old countertops
  • Can cut precision seams and achieve a tight backsplash fit
  • Are able to install sinks/faucets independently if needed

No matter who does the work, proper planning and care are musts for a quality finished look. Consult a contractor if unsure about taking on this advanced DIY project.

Options for New Countertop Materials

What type of countertop material you choose will impact the installation process and final look:

  • Laminate – Most affordable option. Wide variety of colors/patterns. Installs with adhesive and caulk.
  • Stone slabs (granite, marble) – Elegant and durable natural stone. Requires seam adhesives or clips. Matches stone backsplash.
  • Quartz – Made from natural stone and resin. Non-porous and scratch resistant. Requires adhesives and tight seams.
  • Solid surface (Corian) – Acrylic-based blend. Seamless appearance. Installed with adhesive backing.
  • Tile – Durable and economical like backsplash tile. Grout lines may differ from backsplash.
  • Concrete – Stained and sealed for a matte, earthy look. Usually pre-cast then installed onsite.
  • Wood – Adds warmth but requires maintenance. Wood edges can blend with existing backsplash profiles.

Your contractor can help select the best countertop materials for tying into your existing backsplash design, use, and budget.

Backsplash Alterations to Accommodate New Countertops

Depending on your backsplash design, some modifications may be needed to properly fit your new countertops:

Cutouts for Aprons or Overhangs

If your new countertops have front aprons or side overhangs beyond the existing countertop footprint, notches will need to be cut out of the backsplash to accommodate them. Make these cutouts as small as possible while still allowing the countertop edges to fit.

Edge Grinding

Countertops typically need a 1/8” gap from the wall. If your new countertops are thicker than the old ones, the backsplash edges may need slight grinding with a diamond wheel or carbide router bit to create the needed clearance.

Drilling for Plumbing Fixtures

New sink basins or stove backguards often don’t align with existing backsplash holes. New holes carefully drilled through the backsplash tiles may be needed for plumbing and hardware installation. Apply painter’s tape before drilling to help prevent tile chipping.

Gap Filling with Caulk

Gaps between the new countertops and old backsplash can be filled in and blended with colored caulk that matches the backsplash grout lines. Tool the caulk smooth for a near-seamless appearance.

Carefully make any backsplash alterations needed while limiting the impact on the original design. The goal is a proper fit, not changing the backsplash itself.

How Long Does It Take to Install New Tops After Backsplash?

Installing countertops after a backsplash typically takes longer than a standard countertop replacement. Extra time is needed for:

  • Carefully removing the old countertops without damaging backsplash – 1-3 hours
  • Measuring and fitting countertops to existing backsplash – 1-2 hours
  • Making any backsplash cutouts or alterations – 30-60 minutes
  • Precisely cutting seams and scribes for a tight fit – 1-2 hours
  • Filling gaps and sealing edges with caulk – 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Cleaning up old adhesive, wall prep, painting – 30 minutes to 2 hours

Total additional time: 4 – 10 hours depending on project scope

In total, expect the installation process to take 2-3 full days for an average sized kitchen with 10 linear feet of countertop space or more. Caulk and adhesives also need full curing time before using the new countertops.

Can You Install Backsplash After Countertops?

While it is possible to install a new backsplash tile after new countertops are in place, it is not recommended.

Here are some of the challenges with installing backsplash after countertops:

  • Achieving a tight fit between tiles and countertop edge
  • Difficulty removing existing backsplash without damaging new countertops
  • Matching new grout lines and tiles to countertop profiles
  • Accessing the wall area behind countertops for prep and tile work
  • Correctly measuring and cutting tiles around countertop seams and corners

Any imperfections in fit, finish, or color matching will be highly visible and detract from the overall look. It is best to replace your backsplash and countertops together whenever possible for optimal results.

If your countertops are in good condition but you want a backsplash update, consider alternative options like installing backsplash tile on boards you attach above the existing countertops for a cleaner finish.


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing countertops after a backsplash:

Can you put new countertops over existing tile backsplash?

It is not recommended to install new countertops directly over an existing backsplash. The tiles can crack under the weight and improper fit would likely lead to failure of the seam adhesives.

Do new countertops have to be exact height as backsplash?

The new countertops should be a close match to the existing backsplash height for a seamless look. A gap of more than 1/16” between the countertop and backsplash could accumulate dirt and moisture.

What if my new countertops don’t match old backsplash color?

If your new countertops are a different color or pattern than the existing backsplash, use caulk, trim pieces, or decorative edging to help transition between the two as smoothly as possible.

Can you use old backsplash with new countertops?

In most cases, you can reuse your existing backsplash with new countertops. Proper prep and installation techniques will be required to integrate them. Ensure your new countertops do not conflict with the backsplash style.

What color caulk should I use between countertop and backsplash?

Use caulk that matches the color of your backsplash grout lines for the most seamless look. Silicone or latex caulk are both durable options that come in a variety of colors.


Installing new countertops after a backsplash is possible but requires careful planning and execution. Proper countertop removal, wall prep, precision cutting, and thorough sealing are necessary for a quality finished look. While hiring a professional is recommended, DIYers can tackle this project if they have advanced skills. With patience and care, your new countertops and existing backsplash can ultimately form an integrated, seamless finish that transforms your kitchen’s style.

How to Prep Walls and Backsplash for New Countertop Installation

When installing new countertops after an existing backsplash, proper preparation of the walls and backsplash area is crucial for achieving a seamless finished look. Here are important steps for prep work:

Remove Old Countertops Completely

  • Take time to carefully pry off and remove old countertops without damaging the backsplash.
  • Remove all old caulk, adhesive, screws, silicone, etc. from walls and backsplash.
  • Fill any holes or flaws exposed after old countertop removal.

Clean Surfaces Thoroughly

  • Wipe down backsplash and walls with denatured alcohol to remove residue.
  • Clean all dust, grease, and debris from the area.

Sand and Smooth Uneven Areas

  • Sand any bumps or uneven sections on walls behind where countertops will be installed.
  • Provide as smooth and flat a surface as possible for countertops to adhere to.

Apply New Primer and Paint

  • Use bonding primer designed for glass, tile, and laminates.
  • Paint color should match existing grout color closely.
  • Fully cure paint before countertop installation.

Make Any Backsplash Alterations

  • Do any minimal backsplash grinding, notching, or hole drilling needed for proper countertop fit.
  • Limit any changes to what is absolutely necessary.

Thorough prep ensures walls and backsplash are ready for countertops to seamlessly integrate with the existing backsplash design.

Tips for Fitting New Countertops to an Existing Backsplash

Achieving a perfect fit with your new countertops and old backsplash requires precision cutting and installation. Here are some top tips:

  • Make a template – Make a detailed template of the backsplash area with all measurements to cut countertops accurately.
  • Dry fit first – Set countertops in place without adhesive to check fit and make adjustments before final installation.
  • Scribe seams – Rather than cutting the backsplash, scribe countertops with a template for tight seams where they meet walls.
  • Use shims – Use small shims to hold countertops at the perfect distance from backsplash as adhesive sets.
  • Caulk gaps – Fill in any small gaps between countertop and backsplash with caulk that matches backsplash