The Step-by-Step Method to Building Laminate Countertops
When choosing a countertop material, don’t forget about laminates. Laminate countertops are appealing, durable and leave a smaller dent in your remodeling budget than artificial or natural stone. For even larger savings, then combine your time and labor with the right tools and materials to build your own laminate countertops. It’s a satisfying do-it-yourself project that yields impressive results.
The process of building a laminate countertop begins with the substrate, or base. Plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard are all acceptable substrates, each with advantages and negatives. Plywood is strong and secure, but may have hidden flaws that threaten its structure, as well as surface issues that influence how well laminates adhere. MDF is a smooth, consistent material but not particularly water resistant, except for the more expensive exterior grades. While particleboard is the choice of most contractors and commercial manufacturers, it is of a special industrial or countertop grade, so make sure you use exactly the same kind should you go this route. No matter what the material, it is a good idea to seal any areas that may be exposed to humidity, such as above a fridge or under a sink.
Once the substrate is selected and cut to fit, plastic laminate is glued to the top. Thanks to improvements in production and plastics technologies, the higher-end laminates of today are available in various rich colors, thicknesses and textures, and the increasingly realistic look and feel of wood or stone. Countertop laminate most widely comes in 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets, although other sizes also are available, including strips cut to fit standard width edges.
The easiest kind of edging to get a DIY countertop is a square border, made by gluing strips of wood onto the faces of the substrate and trimming them to fit. You can also glue on a form of factory-formed border with profiles like those found on manufactured countertops. Another attractive option is to wrap the countertop in timber. Choose from a large selection of commercially available moldings, or use any type of wood you prefer to create your own custom profiles with a router.
Apart from accurate measuring and design tools, one must-have item for building laminate floors is really a router equipped with a laminate trimming bit. Other items are a jigsaw or circular saw to cut the substrate; a sharp utility knife for cutting and scoring laminate; a paintbrush and roller for applying contact adhesive; many wooden dowels to help place the laminate over the pasted surface; along with a specialty tool called a J reel to press the laminate back on the substrate to get a great bond. You will also need a level work space with loads of ventilation, and a helper or two.
Building your own laminate floors might appear daunting, but it is a manageable task when taken step by step. It’s a great idea to observe a few video tutorials first to get a sense of the procedure, especially if you’re relatively new to woodworking. Try the techniques and tools on a smaller project, such as a workbench or shelf. After you’ve sharpened your skills, and provided you take your time and pay attention to detail, you may give your kitchen a custom look in big savings.