Laminate countertops or more commonly referred to by their brand name -- Formica are a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Formica countertops are available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, styles and prices which fit into many design themes and home improvement budgets. Laminate countertops come in surface only color or the color can permeate through the Formica. Color permeating throughout is a more expensive option, but also worthwhile. Permeating color won't show scratches, nicks and other small areas of damage as readily as surface only color. If you have a nick or scratch on surface only colored Formica countertops the white under the color will be very apparent and almost highlight the damage to the countertop. Formica countertops can be installed by a do it yourself type homeowner, but it is a very precise project.
Formica countertop installation doesn’t require a wide variety of specialized tools or a lot of kitchen remodeling experience. As long as you are the do it yourself type homeowner that takes your time and prides yourself on a job well done, you will be successful. Taking your time, taking precise measurements and working carefully helps to ensure a beautifully installed countertop.
Preparing to Install a New Countertop
Measure the existing countertop to determine the amount of Formica needed to recover the countertop.
Insert a metal scraper under the edge of an existing laminate countertop and lift to remove it from the substrate. If the existing Formica remains firmly affixed, wave a heat gun or hair dryer over the countertop. The heat will soften the glue and loosen the laminate.
If tile covers the countertop, hold a cold chisel at a low angle to the tile, strike the handle of the chisel with a hammer to break the tile. Continue breaking the tile and removing pieces until the substrate is uncovered.
Wrap 100-grit sandpaper around a sanding block or equip a belt sander with 100-grit sandpaper and sand the wood countertop surface to remove old adhesive.
Installing the Formica
Place the laminate sheet over the countertop and tightly butt it up to the wall or backsplash.
Use a pencil or chalk and mark the lines it needs to be cut on from underneath.
Measure the facing and mark lines on where it requires cutting.
Clamp the laminate and a metal straight edge ruler to a flat straight board.
Use a utility knife to score the Formica from the wrong side.
Release the clamps and place a dowel under the score marks, snap the laminate down to make a clean break.
Apply contact cement to the unfinished side of the Formica front edges. Always put the front edges in place first.
Place the edges on and press them in forcefully. Use a roller to press them on an ensure good adhesion.
Place thin strips of wood or lattice every 3 to 4 inches along the top of the countertop.
Roll the contact cement onto the unfinished side of the Formica. Place the end of the countertop in place and slowly begin to lay the Formica along the countertop, remove the thin wood strip as you move along.
Use a roller to press the Formica firmly to the countertop.
Allow the contact cement to fully dry.
Use a router with a bevel bit and a ball bearing guide wheel to trim the edges and finish the edging and take away the sharpness. It is very important to use a ball bearing guide wheel in order to avoid leaving burn marks on the Formica.