Installing Laminated Countertop

Laminated countertops are without a doubt the most popular in today's kitchens. They might not have all the flash and high price of marble or granite countertops, but they are affordable, easy to maintain, durable, and are available in a number of colors and patterns. And, installing a laminated countertop is not rocket science.

Laminate material such as Formica is simply plastic. The beauty of this versatile material is undebatable; it can be formed into an elegant curve to transition the top surface of the countertop into the backsplash. This not only adds eye appeal, it is more sanitary than a right angle and is simple to clean.

The Walls Say it All

Inevitably, the back of the countertop or the backsplash comes in contact not only with the cabinet on the horizontal, but with one or more walls on the vertical. With a straight laminated countertop it is important that the wall be straight. But with an “L” shaped laminated countertop, both walls must be straight and the corner must form a 90 degree angle.

If these conditions are not met there are several things that can be done depending on the severity of the situation. If the discrepancy is minimal, a stick or two of quarter round can mask the problem. If it is more severe than this then more severe corrective action must be taken.

What can cause these wall conditions? A corner that does not form a 90 degree angle is most likely the victim of a bad wall layout.

A wall that is not straight or that has a bulge can be the result of any number of things. If the top plate, bottom plate or the studs that comprise the wall are warped, the drywall surface will reflect this defect. What is the solution?

If the bulge is not overly bad, part of the backsplash can be sanded down. Also, the wall can be sanded down and re-floated. Sometimes it takes a combination of these two methods.

Cutting the Hole for the Sink

The method for this is to position the sink upside down on the laminate countertop. Mark all four corners. Draw diagonal lines connecting the four corners. Now measure in along each mark five sixteenths of an inch.

Use a hole saw to carefully cut through the countertop with the new mark being the outside edge. Flip the countertop over, connect the four holes with a pencil mark, and cut the sink hole out with a jigsaw equipped with a fine blade. Always cut from the back side.

Putting the Countertop Together

If the countertop is made in two sections, they will be mitered and will need to be joined. Apply glue to each side and mate them together. When they are properly aligned, connect them securely using wedge bolts in the connection channels that were cut in the production shop.

Once the glue has fully dried, the laminated countertop can be carefully moved and set on top of the counter.

Securing the Countertop to the Counter

The countertop may now be secured to the counter using the appropriate brackets. They may or may not be supplied with the counter. You can use coarse thread drywall screws in particle board cabinets as they have great holding power.

Now the laminated countertop is done and you can proceed with sink and other hardware installation.

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