DIY: Photo Journal of New Laminate Countertops

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After 10 or more  years, it was time to replace my white laminate countertops with a new laminate.  We decided to tackle this project ourselves and share with you the process and finished product.

Total Material Cost: less than $250 

To remove the old countertop, we had to remove the faucet, sink, and back splash boards. Then there were some various screws that had to come out before it was officially an unattached laminate countertop.

It was heavy!  We used a dolly to transport the old countertop over to my husband’s woodworking shop.

What had happened

The old countertop design had the laminate top butted up against a front edge of oak which left a seam. Over the years, there were places where the water had soaked into the wood and raised the old laminate. The arrows below show areas of water damage that need to be sanded level.

The project took about a week. And yes, that means I washed my dishes in the bathtub that week!

Prepping for new laminate

The arrows show where water had gotten under the old laminate and raised up the wood. These areas needed to be sanded flat.

My husband made the surface flat with a belt sander and 80 grit sandpaper.

The edge around the sink had also deteriorated. My husband used oak boards to reinforce the sink well. All of the wood edge trim was sanded. The new laminate will go right to the front edge of the counter, sitting on top of the old laminate counter and front edging. Later, the oak edging will get a coat of stain and 2 coats of polyurethane.

The detailed preparations are done: the counter is reinforced, sanded and cleaned in preparation for the new formica.

The new piece of laminate was cut with a plunge router to be slightly larger than the countertop.

Attaching New Laminate

My husband used a 4 inch foam roller to apply the contact cement to the back of the new formica* and the top of the countertop.

The new laminate suface and the old counter are ready for the contact cement.

Read the directions on the contact cement! Our contact cement had to dry for 20 minutes before you could set it. A coat of contact cement ALSO is applied on the old countertop surface. Once these two surfaces touch, they will be permanently adhered.

We used a dowel system to keep the surfaces separated until we were ready.

The new formica is positioned over the countertop surface on top of dowels.Starting from one end, the dowels were removed one by one. As they were removed, we pressed the new laminate down firmly from the center to the edges with our hands to make sure no air bubbles were trapped underneath.  We also used a piece of board wrapped with a towel to press down on the surface.

Finishing Up

A block extends the edge slightly for the router.

A block of wood allowed for a stable edge when he was trimming the laminate.

The first cut: Edward used a plunge router to trim up the edges.On the front edge, Edward added a 45 degree angle with a chamfer bit.

The oak edge trim was stained and polyurethaned. The sink and faucet were re-installed. The backsplash was re-attached. It took awhile to wiggle every thing back into place and secure it.

The pattern is Bubble Art in gray. It came out perfectly!

It is not easy to resurface a countertop but it can be done successfully. My husband had the tools he needed**. Although it took some time, this whole project was under $250 in materials and makes my kitchen look like a “million bucks.” Thanks, Honey!

This picture of me smiling in my new kitchen says it all. The counters and backsplash look great!

© 2018

*Formica is a brand of laminate that is used to cover counter surfaces.

** For a complete list of tools and supplies email me at

Additional resources:

How to Install Laminate Countertops,  

Install Laminate Countertops,

How to Install Laminate Countertops

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