So you've found the laminate that your looking for, the pattern, design, color and price have come together and your now ready to begin your home improvement project. The project will be lengthy but the end result will be rewarding. Whatever your goal is to improve the aesthetic of you home or to increase the value home by enhancing your kitchen the project will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.
The first step is to prepare the surface area for the laminate sheets.
- Remove the old countertop surface
- Sand the surface area
- Clean the surface area
- Use course sandpaper on surface area to prepare for contact cement
- Apply any back laminating as needed, this will reduce moisture that will get into the countertop
Removing adhesives, paint and varnishes is key to getting the professional result your looking for.
The second step is to prepare the laminate sheets.
- Measure the surface area to determine the size and shape needed.
- We recommend using a utility knife or fine-tooth backsaw to cut out your laminate sheets. (You can also use a circular saw, backsaw or saber saw.)
a. Give yourself room for error a few centimeters to ensure the laminate fits, you can trim the sheets later to ensure you get the right fit.
b. Technique for cutting the sheets is to cut on the design side and at a low angle.
The third step is to set up the surface area and laminate sheets for placement.
Experts recommend using contact cement to bond laminate to your surface. (Epoxy adhesives will also work as a bonding agent.)
- Using a paintbrush apply a coat of contact cement to the surface you wish to apply the laminate to.
- Apply a smooth coat of contact cement onto the back of the laminate sheets.
- Read the directions on the contact cement for drying allow it to dry for the recommended time.
a. Be careful not to allow the cement to dry to long this can decrease the bonding strength.
b. A good rule of thumb is just that if the contact feels dry to the touch it is probably ready.
You may need an additional contact cement coat for the trim to the countertop edges.
The fourth step is placement of the laminate sheets onto the surface area.
This must be done very carefully. The bonding strength of contact cement is between 50-70% at first contact. So positioning the laminate sheets perfectly before they do contact is a must. You can do this by using strips of wood, dowel rods or wrapping paper.
- Place strips of wood or dowel rods roughly a foot apart adjust if laying a larger laminate sheet. Or place wrapping paper over the surface area. (This step is not needed when placing laminate sheets onto vertical surface.)
- Place laminate sheets onto surface area, once the placement is perfect then remove strips of wood, dowel rod or wrapping paper.
- Use a roller to go over the entire surface, make sure that the plastic laminate is sealed tightly to the surface area this will also help ensure any air pockets are removed. For this task you can also use a wooden block or mallet, it's recommended to start from the center and work out using these tools.
- If you need to make a seam place the larger laminate sheet over the smaller sheet. Cut through the sheets cleanly at the exact point that they overlap then remove the excess laminate.
The fifth step is placement of laminate sheets onto the edges.
- Measure edges and cut out laminate sheets accordingly. Remember to cut sheets out with a few extra centimeters to ensure they cover the surface you can trim and customize the sheets later.
- Apply two coats of contact cement onto surface edge.
- Apply one coat of contact cement on to plastic laminate strips.
- Allow the contact cement to dry for the recommended time provided by product instructions.
- Carefully place laminate sheets aligning the sheet perfectly to the top of the counters edge.
Go slowly and press firmly to ensure the sheet is sealed to the surface at all points.
The sixth and last step touch up and clean your new countertop.
- Allow the contact cement to fully dry.
- Trim off any excess laminate on the edges using a router with a special blade for laminate, you can use a file if the excess is small. Be careful and go slowly when cutting the excess laminate, a slight miscalculation could crack the laminate sheets.
- Clean any excess contact cement using a special solvent, if you do not have the solvent you can also use nail polish to remove it.