How to Restore Formica Tabletops

Written by sal marco
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Formica is a brand-name laminate material. Formica is a thin and fragile material when alone. After bonding with a solid, stable base, Formica becomes a strong surface. Over time and through use, Formica wears, loses its shine and appeal. Some Formica has a surface-only colour while others have colour permeating through the entire sheet. Restoring a Formica surface is successful if the wear does not penetrate through the surface colour on surface-only styles.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Dish soap
  • Rags
  • Cloth
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Utility knife
  • Contact cement
  • C-clamp
  • Laminate wax

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  1. 1

    Clean the Formica surface with mild dish soap and water. Scrub clean with a soft rag. Rinse the tabletop with clear water. Do not flood the seams of the tabletop with water as this may cause swelling of the tabletop base. Dry thoroughly with a clean, soft cloth.

  2. 2

    Remove difficult stains with mild dish soap and a soft-bristle scrub brush. Gently scrub the stains until they disappear.

  3. 3

    Reattach lifting Formica by carefully and gently raising the loose edge with the tip of a utility knife and scrape away old adhesive. Squeeze contact cement into the space and press the Formica down firmly on the tabletop. Clamp the edge in place with a C-clamp. Clean off excess adhesive with a damp cloth. Allow the adhesive to dry completely, usually one to two hours before removing the clamp.

  4. 4

    Apply a coat of laminate wax to the entire tabletop surface. Allow it to dry to a dull white haze. Buff the dry wax off with a soft, clean rag to restore shine. Choose a laminate wax in a colour version to restore colour to slightly worn areas.

Tips and warnings

  • Protect Formica surfaces from scratching with place mats or tablecloths when in use.
  • Do not use abrasive cleansers or steel wool on Formica tabletops.
  • Never allow a Formica surface to remain wet as this may cause lifting, bubbling and swelling of the tabletop or substrate.

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