How to fit kitchen worktops

Step by step laminate and hardwood worktop installation guide

How to Fit Kitchen Worktops

Follow the tips on these pages for how to fit kitchen worktops with perfect joins, cuts and edgings. These are also the same methods to use if you are replacing kitchen counter tops to breathe new life into an old kitchen.

There are several different cuts you may need to perform depending on the shape and layout of your kitchen cabinets, whether or not you have a kitchen island and also there can be more involved if installing hardwood counters to:

  • Straight cut, simply to cut a worktop to the correct length
  • Male and female joints for masons mitres
  • Cutting out apertures for sinks and stove tops
  • Cutting a curved end for a kitchen island
  • Routering draining grooves in hardwood worktops at the sink
  • Tools for fitting worktops

    For the various cuts involved when cutting and installing kitchen counter tops you will need a specific set of tools including a battery drill and drill bits, a jigsaw with downward cutting blades, a circular saw, router with a collet and worktop cutting fluted router bits, a worktop jig, strong clamps.

    Plan your cuts

    If not already done at the design stage the first part of how to install kitchen worktops is to figure out where your cuts will land. These may be blindingly obvious due to the design of your kitchen or they may only be possible to do one way. Other times however you will have a choice and will be able to position them so the counters are balanced visually and joints as string as possible.

    For 90 degree masons miter joins, ideally you want to avoid having a join land too close to a hob because it get very hot, a sink where lots of water will be splashing around and also any other aperture or appliance so as to maximise the strength and minimise the chance of the stresses on the joint. Additionally the joints need to land where there will be ample support and positions available for fixings underneath to also keep the join strong for years to come. People tend to sit on worktops which is worth remembering throughout the installation.

    You can see in the picture below an example of where you could choose where to position the worktop joints. By avoiding a join next to the sink the worktop join will not only be much stronger because there is much more material to the left of the sink (instead of a thin strip) but the join will be exposed to less water too;

    Worktop Join

    How to fit kitchen worktops -
    General points to remember

  • Tiled walls
  • Worktops will generally need to be cut in tight against walls, the exception being where the wall is going to be tiled. In this instance it is better to leave a small gap of around 3mm for expansion. This will obviously be covered by the tiles and can be sealed with silicone too.

  • Cutting the worktops to length
  • Where you will fit the cut edge of the worktop against a wall and it will not be seen, you can cut it to length with a circular saw. Because a circular saw cuts upward, this must be done from the underside (turn the worktop upside down) in order for the blade not to tear the grain or Formica. You must also cut from the front to the back. For Formica worktops, the circular saw blade must enter at the front edge, because if you come from the back to the front the blade will chip the front edge of the worktop out and ruin it as it comes through the face of the worktop. It is normally easier to mark the underside of the counter top any way as it has a paper backing and pencil lines can be clearly seen.

    Click here to visit the page with full instructions on cutting worktops to length with a circular saw, plunge saw and router.

    When cutting to length and the end will be exposed, you will need to clamp a straight edge to the worktop and cut with the router making several passes. For a standard 44mm thick worktop you will need to cut 3-4 times, getting deeper each time until all the way through.

  • Support the work-piece
  • Always keep the worktops well supported while cutting them, ideally on planks on trestles. If you don't have trestles or anything similar, cut them on the ground with several battens placed along the length. The piece being cut off needs to be supported well too so as not to move and cause break out as the cut nears the end.

  • Joining worktops together
  • Kitchen worktops are joined together at right angles with male and female masons miters. These need to be cut with a special worktop jig and a router. A collett is fitted to the underside of the router base, that guides the cutter through precise grooves cut out of the jig.

    To hold the join together tightly, a dog bone shape groove is Routered into the underside of each worktop. Special worktop bolt are then used inside the grooves to pull the join tight.

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