How to fix a laminate countertop

Written by karie lapham fay
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How to fix a laminate countertop
Laminate countertops can look dingy and old after years of use. (Beautiful and new kitchen furniture on modern kitchen image by terex from Fotolia.com)

Laminate countertops remain a popular kitchen and bathroom counter choice. With a seamless appearance, a variety of colour choices and resistance to stains, laminate is considered fairly sturdy. However, with age, wear and tear or exposure to excessive water or heat, laminate can begin to peel away or chip. Scratches, damaged edges and other scars can be repaired in many instances without replacing the entire surface.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Soft cloth
  • Dish washing detergent
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Laminate repair paste/filler kit
  • Coloured epoxy for laminate
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper (fine-grit)
  • Car or furniture wax
  • Laminate topcoat (spray or brush-on)
  • Iron
  • Contact cement
  • Measuring tape
  • Straightedge
  • Utility knife

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Instructions

    Cracks, Chips and Scratches

  1. 1

    Wet a soft cloth in hot, soapy water and wring well to avoid flooding the laminate, causing more damage to the counter surface. Wipe the countertop with circular strokes. Use a soft-bristled brush, such as a vegetable brush, to remove embedded dirt, grease and oil -- especially in seams or textured patterns. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry an hour or two.

  2. 2

    Fill chips, cracks and large scratches with laminate repair paste or coloured epoxy, purchased in a kit. Mix as required and apply a small amount of paste or epoxy, using a putty knife or similar tool to press into the void. Fill the hole completely, then scrape away any excess to level the repair with the countertop. Allow to dry completely.

  3. 3

    Sand over the repaired section, avoiding undamaged areas. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and do not use a sander. Clean with a soft cloth when complete to remove any sanding residue remaining on the countertop.

  4. 4

    Spread a car or furniture wax across the countertop surface to fill small scratches, rubbing in with a soft cloth using circular motions. Reapply periodically after repairs are finished; a once-a-month polish will help your laminate countertop look shiny new.

  5. 5

    Spray or brush on a laminate topcoat to the entire countertop surface for a clear, protective finish. Allow the topcoat to dry thoroughly before using the countertop, typically four to six hours.

    Peeling Edges

  1. 1

    Pull a loose laminate edge away from the countertop to check for any food or debris behind the laminate strips; avoid pulling it out too far, as you do not want to pry off the remaining strip as well. Scrape away any debris present with a putty knife or similar object.

  2. 2

    Heat a clothes iron on the "cotton" setting, without steam. Press the curling laminate edge against the counter and apply the heated iron long enough to reactivate any glue present to re-adhere the edge. Remove the iron after four or five seconds and inspect; reapply for a few seconds more if necessary. Avoid leaving the iron in place for too long to avoid scorching the laminate.

  3. 3

    Apply a thin layer of contact cement to both the countertop edge and the back of the laminate piece if heat alone fails to bond the edge to the counter. Allow the cement to dry three or four minutes, then press the edging into place and hold another two or three minutes. Use contact cement sparingly; too much cement will cause the laminate edging to dry bowed out from the counter.

    Broken, Missing Edges

  1. 1

    Measure the missing or broken laminate edging area you wish to replace. "Steal a replacement piece from an inconspicuous place on the countertop," suggests Tom Silva of "This Old House," to substitute the missing piece. Mark, according to measurements, and cut a corresponding piece off the countertop edge where it faces a wall, refrigerator or similarly unnoticeable area. Score the area you wish to remove, using a straightedge and utility knife, cutting several times to gradually cut through the edging.

  2. 2

    Hold an iron, heated to high without steam, against the replacement edging you just cut. Heat the area for four or five seconds to loosen the glue, then carefully pry up to remove.

  3. 3

    Place the replacement edge against the countertop, over the missing or damaged edge piece. Score the damaged area with a utility knife, using the replacement edge as a template; this ensures that both the replacement piece and the missing area or damaged piece are identical. Heat the damaged area with an iron again to loosen the glue, then pry away any edging present.

  4. 4

    Hold the replacement piece up to the edge where the damaged piece was removed. Use the heated iron to heat area again, reactivating the glue to adhere the new piece. Apply contact cement lightly to both surfaces and press into place if the edge fails to adhere.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider replacing a large, severely damaged area with an object such as a cutting board. Cut out the damaged area with a jigsaw and set the cutting board in place, and no one will know the counter was once damaged.
  • Purchase a laminate repair kit at a home improvement centre. You may have to combine kits to obtain your specific colour.
  • Use the iron carefully on laminate countertop repairs. Overheating the laminate surface can scorch it, further damaging your countertop.

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