How to Repair Formica and High Pressure Laminate CountertopsFitness Gear & Equipment
High Pressure Laminates (HPL) is the direct descendent of the original plastic laminate most commonly referred to as Formica. It is considered to be one of the most durable decorative surface materials and is available with special performance properties including chemical, fire and wear resistance. Special grades of HPL can be formed around curved edges when heat and pressure is applied. Formica is a durable pressed laminate commonly used in countertops or tabletops.
The most common problem with HPL and Formica is loosening at the edge or around sinks. When water penetrates the seams or around the edge of Formica the moisture can loosen the adhesives. Edging can also become loose over time or if it was improperly installed.
Tools and Materials
Rag or Sponge
HPL or Formica that is bubbled in the center of the surface is difficult to repair. It usually entails heating up the surface at the nearest edge and gently lifting the material to gain access to the area that is not adhered to the substrate. Another way to loosen laminate over a large area is with a fabric iron set to low.
1. Locate the loosened HPL or Formica. With a putty knife, gently pry the piece away from the substrate to determine if the piece can be removed completely. If not, continue to Step 2.
2. Use a heat gun set on low about 4 or 5 inches away from the seam closest to the loose laminate.
3. Insert the putty knife into the seam and lift it away from the substrate. Keep the heat gun positioned at the location you're working on to heat the adhesive holding the laminate to the plywood or MDF under the laminate.
4. Slowly lift the laminate far enough to access the loose area. If necessary, place a piece of clean scrap wood or dowel to hold the laminate away from the substrate.
5. With a clean brush or putty knife, apply a thin coat of contact cement to the underside of the laminate and to the substrate. Allow the cement to dry completely, usually around 5 to 10 minutes. You can also set the heat gun to cool and dry the cement in a few minutes.
6. Press the laminate down firmly. Start at the point farthest from the seam and work your way toward to seam to make sure there are no air bubbles and the laminate is making full contact with the cement. You can use a smooth block of wood or a J-Roller to remove any bubbles from the surface.
7. Wipe away any excess contact cement with contact cement solvent or lacquer thinner.
You want to seal the laminate with a sealant to prevent moisture from getting into the same area. Use silicone caulk to seal around sinks and at the joint between the countertop and backsplash.