Installing new countertops is a quick and affordable way to give your kitchen a makeover. On of the most popular materials for countertops is laminated melamine plastic, known by the brand name Formica. It is available in sheet form in many colors, surface textures and patterns. Once you have picked out the type of laminate you want, and ordered it, you’ll need to make measurements of the countertop area so that you can cut the sheets to the proper size.
After you have cut the laminate material to size, lay the pieces out together to ensure proper fit before applying adhesive.
Preparing to install
Ensure that you shut off the power to any electrical appliances in the area and disconnect anything attached to the countertop. Furthermore, shut off the water supply at the valves under the sink, disconnect hot and cold water supply lines and drainpipes and then remove the sink from the countertop.
Brush contact cement onto the counter surface and the back of the laminate sheet and let both surfaces dry, after which they need to be bonded to each other. However, use wooden dowels to keep the two adhesive surfaces from touching, until the laminate is aligned.
Attaching the laminate
Lay the wooden dowel rods every 6”-12” along the countertop, then place the laminate on top of the rods and ensure it is aligned correctly. Although the laminate will cover the hole of the sink, you can cut these holes out later.
One by one, remove the wood pieces, press the laminate into position and use sweeping motions from the centre of the counter outward, to prevent bubbles from forming. Once all the pieces have been removed, apply even pressure all over the countertop with a hand roller, applying extra pressure near the edges.
If for any reason a bubble appears in the laminate, just cover it with a piece of scrap cotton cloth and press it with a steam iron, to loosen the adhesive and allow you to roll over the bubble.
Once the adhesive has dried, use a router with a laminate trimming bit to cut the extra material away from the edges. As a precaution, wear safety goggles.
You can then use a file to smooth out rough spots, but make you apply pressure only in a downward motion to avoid chipping. You can then drill a ¾” hole near the centre of the sink opening and use the router with a laminate trimming to cut the sink hole out completely.
Working those corners
Simply fit the corners with two square-ended pieces of laminate and when it comes to making a seam, install the larger piece of laminate first. You can then position the smaller piece using the dowel rods and cover the seam edge so that the cement doesn’t stick.
In order to make sure that the second piece will fit tightly against the first, remove the protective covering to make the adhesion, working toward the seam and then roll with a hand roller.
Use metal or plastic molding trim to cover the edges of the countertop. Alternatively, you can also cut strips of the laminate and apply them with the cement.
Using two coats of adhesive on the edge of the counter and one on the laminate strip, align the strip along the top with your fingers; hold the edge strips in place with pieces of tape until the adhesive is dry after which any overhand at the bottom can be filed evenly. You can cover the backsplash similarly.
Seal all seams and edges with caulk to keep moisture from reaching the core material, especially the backsplash seams and those near the sink. Replace the sink and reinstall water connections and turn power back on to the work area.