This handyman hint explains how to laminate a bench top commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms.
The first thing to do is make sure the surface you want to cover in laminate is suitable. Solid, clean, smooth surface. i.e. MDF, Hardboard and Plywood are all suitable. Solid timber can warp and is not a recommended surface unless it is covered with hardboard or plywood then nailed and glued onto the timber surface. Make sure the nails are punched below the surface before laminating.
Old Laminate tops can be relaminated providing the surface is in sound condition. Roughen the surface using very course sandpaper. If the old surface has bubbled, these will need to be drilled and adhesive forced under the bubbled area, then weighted until dry. (Overnight) If this does not fix the problem, the old laminate will have to be removed. Gently prise a thin blade under the old surface, squeeze solvent thinners under to loosen the bond and keep peeling until removed.
Place your sheet of Laminate onto the bench top, or edge, face up. Mark the underside with a pencil, then transfer these marks to the top of your sheet. Fig1.You should allow 3mm (1/8 inch) oversize on the outer edges for later trimming. Lay the sheet on a flat surface, then using a straight piece of timber as a guide, score your marked lines.
This is a critical time. Use a laminate cutter. (Score-n-snap) You must score in one pass only, use firm even pressure. Now place some weight on the straight edge. Fig2. Grip the off cut part of your sheet and lift up firmly so the sheet snaps on your scoreline. Laminates are brittle and can split. Take care.
You can cut your sheet using a very fine tooth handsaw. Keep the blade as flat as possible. The sheet must be fully supported on both sides of the cutting line. A diamond blade in an Angle Grinder can be used to cut your sheet if great care is taken. (I prefer this method)
Bond any edge pieces first. Cut over size, glue into place following the instructions below...
Use Contact adhesive to bond the sheet. Read the instructions on the container first.Fig3.Spread an even coat onto the edge of the bench top and onto the back of your sheet. Use a notched applicator. Make sure the edges are completely covered.
Allow the glue to dry. 20 Minutes or longer if the weather is cold. Touch the adhesive using your knuckles, if it sticks wait until it does not. Using a padded block of wood tap along the length of the edge using a hammer to ensure a good firm bond. Take your time. Now you can use a file to trim the edge to size. File horizontally in a forward motion to avoid chipping the surface.
Now repeat the instructions above to bond the sheet for the bench top.
See Fig.4: Mark a center line on both the new sheet and the bench top. As contact adhesives bond immediately on contact, it cannot be moved, so you need to position it correctly. Fig5.Place timber strips or dowels (Fig4) on the bench top, approx 200mm (8 inches) apart, and then position the sheet. Fig6.Make sure your marks line up then remove the center dowel and press your sheet down. Fig7.Working from the center out, removing the dowels one at a time, pressing down until the sheet is completely fixed. Finally, using a padded block of wood, tap across the whole surface to ensure a good bond. Now you need to file the top sheet edges flush with the edge strip. Fig8.Then as a final touch, carefully file a 45-degree bevel onto the top edge. Apply a little pressure as you push the file forwards.
Again, take your time. Rushing can ruin the job.
Lastly use a little turps on a cloth to wipe over the edges to remove any excess adhesive.
Handy Hint - Laminate a Benchtop provided by Maroochydore Handyman
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