How to Laminate Cabinet Doors

Updated February 21, 2017

Building your own European style cabinets is a challenge that most DIYers can easily rise to. Laminate, veneer and paint are the primary finishes used in European style cabinets. Laminate is by far the most rugged of the three and makes up the bulk of European cabinets, especially for industrial uses. Formica style laminates may seem a little intimidating at first, but as with most things, a little knowledge goes a long way. Experienced DIYers should have little difficulty laminating cabinet doors.

Measure your doors for laminate. Cut a piece for the front of the door 1 inch larger on each side (for a 20x24-inch door, cut a piece 22x26 inches). Typically laminated doors are cut from 3/4-inch MDF or plywood. Cut strips 1-1/2 inches wide for the edges. Use a sharp finetooth blade on a table saw to make your cuts.

Use contact cement to stick the face piece down first. Use a small, short nap paint roller to spread the adhesive on both the inside of the laminate and the face of the door. Follow manufacturer's instructions on curing time. The pieces will need to sit to allow the adhesive to set but not too long, typically 3 to 5 minutes. Some adhesives require heating to set properly. Use a heat gun to warm both pieces. Follow manufacturer's instructions. Purchase heat guns in the paint department of your local home centre.

Lay 1/4-inch wooden dowels a little longer than the width of the door about 10 inches apart on top of the door. Lay the laminate on top of the dowels. Remove the first dowel, and press the laminate down, starting from the edge and moving in. Remove the dowels one at a time to allow the laminate to contact the adhesive on the door.

Use a rubber mallet to tap the edges of the laminate down once the dowels are all removed. Follow up with a J roller or heavy rolling pin to smooth the laminate down snugly; J rollers are available from most laminate retailers.

Use a router with a flush-cut bearing bit to trim the excess laminate off. Run the router around the door in a clockwise direction. Use a sander on the door edge to lightly smooth the edges of the laminate, Keep your sander square with the door edge to avoid damaging the door or laminate.

Apply contact cement to 2 opposite side edges of the door. Apply cement to 2, 1-1/2 strips of laminate long enough to cover the door edges. Allow time to cure, then apply heat as needed. Carefully stick the two pieces down, and tap and roll them into place. Route the excess laminate off carefully. Stick down the top and bottom edges in the same manner. Use beeswax to lubricate the bearing on the router bit to avoid burning your laminate.

Use a 1-inch fine bastard mill file to smooth down the edges. Hold the file at approximately 45 degrees to the face, and run it from left to right. Be careful not to cut too deep. Clean any excess cement from the door with a small amount of acetone and a soft rag. Files are available wherever tools are sold.

Things You'll Need

  • Cabinet doors
  • Plastic laminate
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure
  • Router with flushcut bearing bit
  • Finetooth bastard mill file
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.