Repairing or Replacing Laminate Countertops

Because making clean, unnoticeable repairs to laminate countertops, it's often best to replace them entirely.Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock.com

Because it’s almost impossible to make clean, unnoticeable major repairs to laminate countertops, it’s usually best to replace them entirely—ideally, during a kitchen remodel.

Plastic laminate is popular for countertops because it offers a seamless, impervious surface. However, it can chip or break if something hits it hard enough, it can peel away from its substrate or base, and it will melt or scorch if you put something very hot on it. Repairing laminate is tricky, mostly because it is difficult to get a true match with the repair.

Repair Chips or Burns in Laminate

You can fill small chip-outs with epoxy glue, but the odds of matching a laminate color or pattern are slim to none.

Slight surface burns can sometimes be scrubbed away with a mild abrasive cleanser. Deeper burns usually can’t be removed because they char the thin laminate all the way through. Your only other-and it’s far from satisfactory-option is to try cutting away the damage and filling the void with epoxy.

Repair Peeling Laminate

If a laminate surface starts to peel or lift at an edge, it means that either the glue or the substrate below has failed.

If the substrate is in poor condition (damp or rotted, for example) you won’t be successful trying to glue the laminate back in place. If the substrate is sound, you can usually re-glue the laminate using contact cement.

Paint both the underside of the laminate and the substrate with a thin coat of contact cement, and then allow both to dry until tacky before mating the pieces (follow the contact cement manufacturer’s directions for application and set-up time).

It’s critical to get the contact cement all the way into the joint where the laminate meets the substrate and to bond them so that no air voids are trapped between the two materials. Contact cement is a strong and aggressive glue-once the cemented pieces touch, you won’t be able to pull them apart to realign them, so work carefully.

After the pieces are joined, place a weight on top of them until the glue dries.

Replace a Laminate Countertop

Because laminate as a material is difficult to repair, it’s often a better idea to simply replace it. If your countertops are the squared-off type and they’re sound, it is possible to have new laminate applied over the top.

If they are the rounded-over (post-form) type, or the laminate is not sound, you will need to replace the countertop entirely. This is not as difficult as it sounds-most counters are only attached with a few screws from below, and sometimes they are not fastened at all. Once you remove the screws (and the sink), most laminate counters come off in one piece.

Fabricators can make up any size and shape countertop to your dimensions. Costs are generally charged by the foot. Stock sizes can be found at most home centers.

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