Installing formica

I need some pointers.   We have decided to update our kitchen, I am a DIY type of girl-so can someone tell me how to install new formica?  What do you mount it on?  Do you use a sturdy ply wood base and a layer of backer board for the water protection?  I know I can get ready made counter tops at my local home improvement store but these wrap up the wall by about 3 inches and I do not think I want that.  I want a tiled backsplash.  Any help or suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

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sparkie on Jan 29, 2007:

I did kitchen counters last year.  I glued over existing formica which was solid & in good shape.  I sanded wel & think used a deglosser too, to give "tooth" for the contact-type adhesive glue for formica.

I bought an inexpensive formica cutting tool, hand held and roller for making good contact to glue & remove any air bubbles.  It was fairly easy.  DebtedVW gave alot of info.  I goofed up a sink cutout too. 

I used cheap leftover screen molding (wood) which was pre-stained to match cabinets that I used as vertical edging on the straight runs.  For 3 curved areas I used some standard floor transition piece (can't remember name but what you would use to cover a splice in thin flooring).  This looked like stainless banding.  It came in 8 ft lenghts and bent to follow curves easily. (Where'd the italiacs come from?) I adhesive-caulked it down and used small copper nails in the pre-drilled hole.  Stainless & copper in kitchen.

Good Luck!

dentedvw on Jan 28, 2007:

Oh drat, that came out backwards. Read the bottom one first.

Also, check out:



dentedvw on Jan 28, 2007:

If you are going to use a different sink, now is the time to figure that out for sure. While many sinks look alike, they do not all have the same cutout size or shape. Ask me how I know, I really regret not double checking that one. Learned the hard way, I guess.  Some sinks have a square cutout, and some have rounded edges. Even sinks of the same size may not cover the corners like the previous sink did.

You can use a water based adhesive, formica makes a nice one that is easy to work with. Follow the directions to the letter, this is important. Be sure to put the laminate on the counter to see how it all lines up before you lay down the adhesive.

When it is time to lay the laminate on the counter, line up small diameter dowels on the counter, front to back. This will allow you to line up the counter without gluing it down accidentally.  

You will need a router to make the final trim cuts. If you haven't used one before, practice on some scrap first. You can make the edges flush, or bevel them. Just be sure you are not bevelling straight through all the laminate. Some people choose to use a file for finishing the edges, and that is good too.

While these are all helpful tips, it is obviously not a complete set of instructions. I heartily recommend you go to your local library and check out a book on installing laminate countertop. Even if the book is a bit aged, the methods have not changed for a long time. You will probably find some Time/Life books from the seventies or eighties. That will do just fine. :)

dentedvw on Jan 28, 2007:

If you are not making any changes to the shape or size of the counter you have, there is a good chance you can use that, almost as is. If that is the case, you will need to rough up the surface, a lot. Really wreck it with low grit sandpaper, like 60 grit.

If there is metal edges, you will need to take them off. If there is one at the back, you will need to remove it as well, but that means probably taking off the current laminate. :( I had this problem, and it took a long time, but we got it all off. 

I prefer to reuse materials whenever possible, so that is why I put so much effort into reusing the counter I had, even though it meant adding on a bit, matching, filling, etc. You may have it easier if you are not changing the configuration of your kitchen like we did. :)

Cutting the new laminate is always a pain. I recommend you go to a good supplier, skip home depot, lowes, menards, etc. go to a company that sells to the industry, they will sell to you too. Choose a good name brand, such as Formica, Wilsonart, or Nevamar. Take my advice and do not purchase anything very thin, it is good for wrapping, but is hard to work with because it breaks VERY easily. 

Measure ten times, then once more. No hiding mistakes with laminate. Make a template if it helps you. Keep in mind that your walls may not be perfectly square, which means that your counter may not be either.


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