Before you decide to repair a laminate backsplash, you should determine if the laminate is in good condition to warrant the effort put in to repair it or if it is more suitable to replace the laminate instead.
Step 1 – Assess the Damage
Most likely the laminate damage you will be repairing will be water damage, resulting in unsightly air bubbles. Your laminate may be cracked or coming up at the edges, which is more indicative of wear and tear experienced over time. If your laminate is very old, you may want to consider removing the laminate altogether and replacing it with a new laminate.
Make sure the laminate is not nailed down; nails are not recommended for installing laminate and if it is nailed, it is best to replace the whole laminate piece.
Once you have determined the damaged area you would like to repair, take note if you will have to repair a caulked seam. If this is the case, you will need to replace this caulk seam with a matching-colored caulk.
Use a pencil to mark the outer area of the damaged laminate; this will help you not “over-pry” the laminate piece past the area of damage.
Step 2 – Remove the Existing Laminate Adhesive
You can use a putty knife or hammer to pry the laminate away from the particleboard or plywood where it is attached. Proceed with caution; the laminate should not need too much force to pry. If you need to pry the laminate from a caulked seam, use the putty knife to pry the edge of the seam and peel it away.
Before using adhesives, removers, lacquer thinner, make sure to put on rubber gloves and to keep the area well ventilated. Apply adhesive remover or lacquer thinner to the existing adhesive on the laminate; a spray bottle might make this an easier task. Use a small wood piece to prop the laminate away from the particleboard or plywood while the adhesive remover dries so that the laminate does not reattach.
Step 3 – Apply New Adhesive
Once the propped laminate area is dry, carefully apply construction glue or liquid cement to the back of the laminate. Be sure to use the least amount possible to avoid creating air bubbles.
Remove the prop and firmly press the laminate back against the particleboard or plywood. Remove pressure after 5 seconds or so and make sure there are no air bubbles. Allow adhesive to dry for 1 or 2 hours.
Step 4 – Finishing Up
If you had to remove the caulk seam from the edge of the laminate piece, make sure to clean the seam area and dry completely before applying the new caulk. Apply 2 strips of painter's tape to each side of the seam; leave roughly 1/8 inch space for the caulked seam.
Slowly apply the caulk to the seam, creating an even strip in one sure motion. Carefully remove tape strips before caulk completely dries.
Let the caulk seam dry for 20 minutes or so.