dcsimg
Home > Building & Construction > Cabinets and Countertops > Replacing Your Laminate Countertop

Replacing Your Laminate Countertop: Steady as You Go

By Brett Freeman
Replacing Your Laminate Countertop: Steady as You Go

If you are planning on replacing your laminate countertops--that is, putting new laminate over the existing laminate or substructure--the first step is to make sure the existing surface is both smooth enough and sound enough to make the project worth your effort. Remember, installing new laminate is a painstaking process, but if it's done right, the end result can light up your kitchen for years to come.

Start the Process

To begin, you need to clear your countertops of everything, including the kitchen sink. Close the shutoff valves under the sink and then disconnect the faucet from the water lines and the sink from the drain line. The sink is attached to the countertop with clips, which you can unscrew to lift the sink out.

Over or Under the Existing Laminate?

Cracks, deep scratches, and gouges in your existing laminate will, over time, show through the new laminate, so you need to either remove the old laminate, or cover it with 1/4 inch plywood. Installing the plywood is tedious. Removing the old laminate is really really tedious, but keeps the counter on the same plane, which is important if you are working with an existing backsplash.

If you opt for plywood over the existing laminate, cut it slightly (about 1/4 inch) larger than the counter you are covering, then sand it flush after installation. Use construction adhesive to attach the plywood, then add screws every six inches into the cabinet frame. Countersink these screws and use wood putty to make the plywood perfectly smooth.

To remove old laminate, use a heat gun and a putty knife. Using a putty knife that is at least 4 inches wide makes it easier to get the old laminate up in fewer pieces. Keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case the heat gun ignites the old laminate. When you have removed all of the old laminate, thoroughly sand the plywood underneath until it is perfectly smooth.

Carefully Put Down the New Laminate

If you have never used contact cement before, you might want to do a test run with a scrap piece of wood and laminate just to get a feel for it.

  1. Begin by cutting oversized strips of laminate for the edges and then the front of the counters.
  2. Apply contact cement to the counter edge or front (do the edges first) and the back of the laminate, let it dry according to the instructions, press it into place, and then use a trim router and sandpaper to make it fit flush.
  3. Next cut slightly oversized (1/2 inch or so) pieces of laminate for the countertops and apply contact cement to the countertops and the back of the laminate.
  4. While the cement dries, place wooden dowels on top of your counters, perpendicular to the back wall.
  5. When the contact cement is dry, place the laminate on top of the dowels. Make sure the back edge of the laminate is perfectly aligned, and then remove the dowels. Begin in the middle of each piece and work outward first to one edge, then the other, pushing the laminate from the center out as you remove the dowels.
  6. Go over the entire surface again, from the center out, with a three-inch roller to prevent bubbles from forming.
  7. Finally use a trim router and sand paper to get rid of any excess.

Note: Cut the sink hole after attaching the laminate to the countertop. Drill a hole in the center, use your trim router to cut the sink hole, and then replace the sink.

Find Great Deals on Kitchen Cabinets
Enter Your Zip Code:


THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' WITH NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. THE AUTHOR, THE SITE OWNER AND ITS AFFILIATES ASSUME NO LIABILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS CONTAINED THEREIN OR FOR ANY USE OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT. The article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.