A laminate countertop is built with sheets of particleboard and plastic laminate. Putting a laminate countertop together yourself is more cost-effective than ordering a custom one. Countertops made from this material allow for more choices in color and pattern, and they can also be sized to different kitchen spaces. One important step in finishing this type of countertop is to remove the excess laminate material, which can be easily accomplished with the correct tools.
Step 1 -- Join Countertop Pieces
Cut the countertop substrate pieces to the dimensions you want for your particular countertop. Use the wood glue to join the particleboard and substrate pieces together. Attach 3-inch wide thin wood strips to the bottom of the countertop. Fill in any gaps with a wood filler compound.
Step 2 -- Cut Laminate Sheets to Fit
Use your straightedge to draw cutting lines for trimming the laminate to size. Score and cut the laminate with your utility knife, and make sure any extra is broken off cleanly. As an alternative, you can also use laminate snips to cut excess pieces of laminate. These snips cut cleaner and straighter lines than a utility knife, although you will still need to square the cut edges with a router.
Step 3 -- Create Laminate Seams
Trim off excess laminate with the router, using a built-in guide piece on the router called a straight bit. To make sure the router moves in a straight line, measure from the cutting edge of the router to the edge of the straight bit. Attach the laminate to a piece of scrap wood with the wood clamps, making sure both are parallel.
Step 4 -- Apply Laminate to Countertop
Apply sections of laminate to the sides of the countertop first. Roll a coat of contact cement to the edge of the countertop and another coat to the back of the laminate. Position the laminate carefully and smooth it firmly against the edge of the countertop. Trim off any excess over the edges with the router, cutting the laminate so that it is flush with both the top and bottom edges of the countertop.
Step 5 -- Test Fit Laminate
Fit the larger laminate sheet to the countertop substrate, and make sure the laminate overhangs all four edges. Draw a cutting line at each seam using the same technique as in Step 3. Make sure the edges of different laminate sections for different countertop sections are butted together. Brush off any dust from the laminate surface, and then attach the laminate by rolling on coats of the same contact cement.
Step 6 -- Trim Any Remaining Laminate
Once the cement has bonded the laminate to the countertop core, attach a fine flush-cutting bit to your router and remove any remaining excess sticking up over the countertop edges. For countertop areas that can't be reached with the router, use a metal file to remove excess laminate from these areas. Finish all side edges with the router's bevel-cutting bit.