If you have an ugly or outdated countertop, replacing it may be something you're considering. However, there's a better idea that you may like -- one that's more eco-friendly and that you can do yourself for a fraction of the cost. This alternative is a mosaic countertop.
Step 1: Find or Create Broken Glass
Before you begin your countertop revamp, you need to find the glass. There are a few ways to go about this, including shopping for new glass (which can be quite expensive), buying chipped or broken glassware from a thrift store, or gathering it yourself from any broken glass containers that you or your friends may have sitting around. Place unbroken glass items into a garbage bag or paper bag and break them with a hammer. Use pliers to break them into smaller sizes.
Tip: If you can't find enough glass to use, consider using old tiles or plates or new ones from discount stores.
Step 2: Gather Other Materials
You'll need a few other materials once you've gathered your glass. To keep it in place you'll need a wall or floor tile adhesive, or you can use Thin-Set (an adhesive mortar). You only need a thin coat of whatever adhesive you choose. The next item you'll need is grout. Consider a color that will match the glass and room the countertops are in. White or bone are two safe colors that you usually can't go wrong with and will match any glass colors you have, but there are more bold colors available if you want to go that route. While shopping, grab a pair of grozier pliers (glass cutting pliers) if you can find them. Otherwise use a pair of lock-jaw pliers. Lastly, you'll need a sponge for cleaning the excess grout off of the countertop.
Step 3: Work Time!
This is the work part, but it's also the fun part. In fact, even kids would enjoy it -- just make sure they have safety glasses and gloves on if they're going to help (and it wouldn't hurt for you to have those, too!).
Before you begin applying your glue and glass, it's better if you remove a sink if there is one.
On your countertop, spread a thin layer of your adhesive or Thin-Set. You can spread it over the entire countertop if it's not too big, or just spread it out section-by-section as you work. Next, begin picking through your glass pieces and choose which ones you want to go where. Use your pliers to break them into smaller fragments or different sized shapes that will fit better into your mosaic.
Tip: Mosaic countertops don't have to have a particular pattern, or you can determine a pattern (such as a swirl of pink glass around green glass) and fill it in as you go. If you do have a particular pattern you want to adhere to, it's best to sketch it out beforehand so that you have a little guide to reference back to as you're working.
Step 4: The Nitty Gritty Part
After allowing your glass pieces a little time to set, approximately 2-3 hours, it's time for you to get the grout part going. Mix the grout (if it's not pre-mixed) according to the manufacturer's directions. It should be like wet sand when it's properly mixed and ready to apply.
Since you're working with sharp edges of glass or tile, you'll want to put on a pair of latex or rubber gloves. You can then apply the grout with a putty knife or with the gloved hands, either way, take the grout and rub or press it into all the gaps between the glass pieces. Make sure you evenly apply it over the entire countertop. If you do it right, it'll get everywhere, including all over the glass you just laid down.
Step 5: Cleanup
About 15-20 minutes or so after you've finished grouting, you'll need to be ready with a sponge to wipe the residue off the top. To do this, dampen your sponge and run it across your new mosaic glass countertop. This helps press the grout into any spaces it wasn't securely stuck into before, as well as to even it out. Rinse the sponge out well, all excess water out with it, and wipe it down a few more times until you see that all or most of the residue is off the glass pieces.
Allow your newly grouted countertop to cure for a few days and then go over it with a cloth and some white vinegar. This will get any remaining gritty grout off of your new mosaic glass countertop, and shine it up too!