How to Cut Formica Countertops and Install Them Yourself

Laminate countertops have become extremely popular as a low cost kitchen surface, and one of the reasons for this popularity is that they can be installed by anybody with a minimum knowledge of DIY and the right tools. Cutting and installing laminate countertops yourself is a great way of lowering your costs, and allows even the most cash-strapped homeowners to give a new lease on life to old and tired kitchens and even bathrooms.

Tools For Cutting Laminate Countertops

You can buy laminate from most home improvement stores, and it comes as thin sheets that will need to be cut to the size of the countertops base you are installing them on. In order to cut laminate countertops you’ll need a sabre saw and a router with a laminate cutting bit to trim the excess. A flat file to smooth any sharp corners is also useful, as it will give your new countertops a professionally installed finish. In order to glue the laminate sheet to a countertop plywood base, you will need a J-Roller or you can also use a baker’s rolling pin, though the results will often be better if you use professional tools.

How To Cut Laminate Countertops

First of all, you will need to measure the surface you want to install laminate on, usually a plywood base but you can also install Formica sheets over other surfaces, as long as they are perfectly clean and porous (so not over glass, for example). Lay the laminate sheet on top of a large and flat surface, and mark the pattern you need to cut, including cut-outs for sinks and other inlays. Using a sabre saw with a fine-tooth blade cut the laminate sheet carefully, about a centimetre or two larger than the pattern you just drew. This will give you some room to position the sheet and place it correctly over the plywood, and you can trim any excess later using the router.

Installing Laminate Countertops

If you are installing laminate countertops over a large surface, you should get an extra pair of hands at this point as it can be difficult to place the laminate sheet on your own.

First of all, apply contact adhesive evenly to the back of the laminate sheet and also to the plywood base, making sure that there aren’t bumps and the glue is evenly spread all over both surfaces. Carefully place the cut laminate sheet in place, and apply pressure slowly with the j-roller (or a wallpaper installation tool or even a rolling pin if the countertop is small). Take care to apply pressure evenly to avoid bumps that will stick out like a sore thumb once the installation is complete. Here is where having somebody else helping comes in useful, as you will be otherwise trying to holdĀ  a sticky laminate sheet in place while smoothing out all the bumps and trying to do this quick enough so the glue doesn’t dry.

After the laminate sheet is glued to the base, you can remove any excess using the router on a laminate cutting set, and rough spots and edges can be smoothed with a regular flat file for a professional finish that will help your new countertops last for longer.

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