How to Recover Laminate Countertops

If your old laminated countertop is worn, chipped or just plain ugly, one option is to cover it with new laminate.

This is easier than you think, and something you can do yourself. Laminate is generally mounted with contact cement--a thin, glossy chemical that only sticks to other surfaces that are coated with the same substance--and can be rough-cut with a jigsaw and detail-cut with a special routing bit.

Remove the sink and any other fixtures. Clean and dry the existing laminate. Sand it with your power sander and 100-grit sandpaper, just enough to take the shine off the surface. Thoroughly clean the dust off.

Measure each span of the countertop (top, front edges, backsplash). Use your jigsaw to cut a piece of laminate for each span, making the laminate overhang any open edges of the span by an inch. Spread contact cement with brush throughout the back of each piece, and on the whole surface of the countertop. Let the contact cement set according to the instructions. The cement on either surface should be dry to the touch.

Carefully set the main front edge piece of laminate in place. Don't allow the contact cement on the back of the laminate to touch the cement on the countertop until you're sure it's positioned correctly, because they will bond instantly. Use the rolling pin to roll the piece on as you secure it to prevent air bubbles. Run your router along the top and bottom edges to trim off the excess of the laminate and even it with the countertop.

Lay dowel rods on the top of the countertop front to back, about a foot apart, across the whole surface. Lay the top laminate piece on the dowel rods, cement-side down (it won't stick to the rods). Position the piece correctly. Pull out a rod from the middle and press the laminate down to the surface so it makes contact with cement-covered countertop and sticks. Use your rolling pin to flatten and press the laminate in either direction toward the edges, putting out the dowel rods as you go. When it's all down, run your router around the edges to trim off the overhand. Trim out the sink hole in the same manner.

Laminate the top edge of the backsplash in the same manner as you did the front edge. Laminate the forward-facing vertical span of the backsplash last. When all the laminate is down, re-install the sink.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Hand-held power sander
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Laminate sheets
  • Jigsaw
  • Contact cement
  • Brush
  • 1-inch dowel rods, enough to lay across the counter every foot
  • Rolling pin
  • Router with laminate-cutting router bit

Tip

  • If the router doesn't give you as smooth an edge as you want on the corners, gently run a metal file over them.

Warning

  • Always wear eye protection when cutting laminate.