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Repairing a Formica Countertop Burn

January 11th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

If someone has damaged your plastic laminate top with something hot, there are only a couple of ways to fix a burnt (or, “burned”) Formica countertop. Relaminating the damaged area or installing a “Surface Saver” or butcher block cutting board are the only methods that return professional results. If you were hoping to find easy ways to repair a kitchen, bath, vanity or laundry room mica counter that has a burn in it, these methods may not be what you are looking for.

I have made many repairs to areas that have been burned using these techniques. How hard or easy my suggestions may be for repairing the damaged area will depend upon your level of skill and craftsmanship.


If you don’t like my suggestions and think that you will be able to use some type of filler, please understand that no matter what you do, it will still look like a patch job.

Fixing a burn in a laminate top is not possible by sanding the area and applying some type of filler or what is refereed to as “seam fill.” The heat damaged area cannot be painted over and sealed either.

How to fix a burned mica countertop by installing a cutting board

We will look at two alternatives, one will be installing a glass top cutting board which will protrude just above the surface and the other will be replacing the effected area with a removable, real wood butcher block cutting board.

Using A Surface Saver:

If you plan on repairing a burnt area in your plastic laminate countertop by installing a cutting board, there are several sizes available from the leading manufacturer which is “Surface Saver.” Obviously there are many colors to choose from and the most popular sizes are; 12” x 15”, 16” x 20” and 18” x 22.”
There are a few things to consider before you decide to use this method though. When determining whether a Surface Saver cutting board will work for repairing a burnt mica top the following two observations must be made

  • Tip: When cutting the burned area from a Formica counter, use a saber saw (or, “jig saw”) with a fine blade for cutting plastic laminate. It is important to make sure the metal base-plate on the saw, which will be touching the surface of the counter, is smooth. You may place masking tape over the metal to ensure that you will not do any additional damage to your laminate top.

Is the burn right next to the sink area?
If your countertop was damaged near where the sink was installed, it is not advisable to make a cutout for installing the glass top Surface Saver. For obvious reasons, the two cutouts being so close to one another weaken the top too much.

Was the mica top burned over the Dishwasher?
In order to install cutting boards which have a glass and rim construction, like the Surface Saver brand, you must be able to tighten the installation screws from underneath the plastic laminate counter top. The only method that works is when the cutting board is fastened securely from underneath the Formica counter. If the damage is in an area where you cannot access where the cutout will be you cannot install this type of system to repair the burn in your mica top.

Making the hole in  a mica top for a Surface Saver inset cutting board.

When you purchase the product it will come with directions for using the template that is supplied with the cutting board. When you transfer the pattern onto the top, make sure that your pencil line is very dark because the saw dust is going to interfere with your vision as you are completing the task.

It is extremely important to cut along the outside of the line and you must be using a new, sharp saber saw blade as well. The reason for this is because  if you do not get the hole large enough the first time, trying to cut Formica along the edge of the hole will increase the risk of chipping the plastic laminate. Jig saws pull from the bottom upwards and they will rip large chunks of the mica color away so much so that the rim of the Surface Saver will not cover the damage.

  • Tip: If you have to enlarge the cutout because you did not cut it large enough, this is best done by turning the saber saw upside down and making the alteration from underneath. If you place masking tape along the finished edge this will help strengthen the mica as you make the second cut. Another suggestion would be to use a belt sander or hand, block sander to increase the size of the hole.

After you have made the hole follow the direction for installing the Surface Saver.

Fixing a Plastic Laminate Counter Burn By Installing a Butcher Block Cutting Board

When you are fixing a burn area in your laminate counter, by installing a butcher block cutting board, the cutout process is going to be the same as described above for the Surface Saver brand. There are several sizes available, in pre- made designs that can be found at a local cabinetry supply center.

By hiring an experienced cabinet maker, a custom size may be fabricated to suit your particular situation. Please be aware that anything that is custom made, in real wood, will come with a hefty price tag. These cutting boards generally come in a one inch to 7/8th thickness and will have to have a rabbit joint cut along the edges so that it will inset into the mica top.

Re laminating a burnt Formica plastic laminate counter top is the final option that I have to offer to you. This should be done by a professional. Being able to just cover over the burn area with new mica will depend upon the design of your tops and where the burned spot actually is located.

If there is a seam in the mica you should not try to peel the burned plastic off and fit it the the existing seam. All seamed areas should be completely replaced. The new laminate will not be the exact thickness of color. What I’m saying is that the new piece may stick out like a sore thumb. Fixing the problem this way is going to be a dusty and smelly job.

For more details about this process, please refer to my article: “all about cabinet resurfacing.” Installing cutting boards to correct the problem is going to be a lot cheaper than having resurface work done. However, cost is not the only consideration to be made. Is a cutting board going to actually look like it was designed to be there? Being able to repair the effected area with new mica will also be contingent upon whether or not the color of your top is still available. As previously mentioned, it is my opinion that there are really no other effective ways to repair a countertop that has a burn in it.

  1. Sashi
    January 19th, 2009 at 18:55 | #1

    My burnmark is right above the dishwasher, so I cannot install a built in surface saver. However, the countertop specialist that I was talking to mentioned that you can also stick the surface saver onto the laminate. Is this recommended by you. How will it look. Can you please let me know if you would recommend a new install instead.

  2. admin
    January 19th, 2009 at 20:16 | #2

    Why don’t you just take the dishwasher out, install the surface saver and reinstall the dishwasher?

  3. Erick Olofsson
    March 19th, 2009 at 08:49 | #3

    Hi,
    You had just the idea I needed.
    But I cannot find where to buy a 16×20 glass of Poly cutting board with stanless steel frame.
    Can you tell me who supplies them, Vance industries Chicago No longer makes them.
    Erick

  4. admin
    March 19th, 2009 at 13:24 | #4

    Hey Eric, call Cabinet Ware 1-800-226-6300. They currently have a white one in stock, 16 x 20, with a stainless steel rim. I was told that they are not a discontinued size but they must be special ordered in.

    The company is Cabinet Ware in Florida http://www.cabinetware.com

  5. jessie
    May 11th, 2010 at 07:13 | #5

    while visiting my son in Essex county, New jersey we broke the poly cutting board that they had over the dishwasher, Please advise me where I ]can get another one to install over the dishwasher. the measurements are 16×20

  6. Ronald R
    July 10th, 2010 at 05:35 | #6

    In responce to Jan 11 2009. Sorry but I have to disagree with your solutions, there is a company by the name of Benchtop and Surface Repairs and they specialize in the repairs of laminated benchtops. I have seen some of their repairs to burnt benchtops and with most you can’t see if you weren’t looking for them( they remove the burn and actualy put the pattern back into the laminate).

  7. April 11th, 2011 at 11:03 | #7

    You can buy a “built in” Surface Saver that comes with the tempered glass cutting board and the proper installation hardware. And, yes, Vance still sells them: http://www.vanceind.com/built-insurfacesavers.aspx

  8. admin
    April 13th, 2011 at 05:18 | #8

    Thanks Jennifer for helping us out here wit your expertise!

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