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How To Replace A PLastic Laminate Formica Countertop Edge

January 26th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The process of replacing a Formica Counter top edge is something that can be accomplished by the do it your self home owner. Let me give you quick word of caution though, use extreme patients when you are removing the broken, chipped, damaged plastic laminate countertop edge. Removing the bad mica is going to be the most difficult endeavor of this project. You must understand that one slip with the sharp object that you are trying to remove the plastic laminate edge with could cause damage beyond repair to the actual flat surface of the top. When you get a replacement piece, I recommend using VT thickness.

  • Tip: Take a small piece of the mica color to Home Depot, or Lowes to try and match the color by looking on their sample boards. You can look online too. The major brand names are Formica, Wilsonart, Nevamar, and Pionite. Once you have the color code go to cabinet shops in your area and see if they can sell you strips of the color you need. Oftentimes manufactures will have remnants of the color you will need.

Tools Needed To Replace A Mica Countertop Edge

Before you decide to jump in with both hands there are a few tools that will be need in order to replace the damaged countertop mica. The cost of hiring a professional may be cheaper than purchasing what you will need. Lets just say that to do this the correct way the replacement edge should be cut a little oversized and then trimmed off. This is where the expensive power tool comes into play.

The tools materials you will need

It is possible to try replacing the edge by having the new one cut slightly oversized by 1/32 of an inch. Then, you can avoid the experience of purchasing a laminate trimmer. If you opt to try this look down the counters edge and see how straight it is. If there are humps and dips of considerable proportions you may want to reconsider having a professional do the project.

Steps for Formica Countertop Edge Replacement

By following these steps you will be able to accomplish the Formica counter edge removal process and replacement successfully.

Razor Knife
Using the razor knife start along the bottom edge inserting the blade between the plastic laminate and the board that it is glued to. The blade should only be inserted about 1/16” deep. Avoid wiggling the razor knife back and forth as this will only cause the Formica to chip. The less breaks that occur the better off you will be. What you are shooting for here is to remove this counter edge in one long unbroken piece. When you are working around the already chipped areas be extra cautious not to break the edge. To get the blade in about 1/16” you will have to gently, but with pressure, pull the knife toward you between the two surfaces. Make extra sure you are cutting the glue joint between the two surfaces and not into the actual mica. Once the razor knife is cutting through in long strokes at the 1/16” depth begin to apply more pressure and work your way to 1/8” depth on long even strokes. Keep working the blade deeper in long strokes until the entire blade is inserted as far as it will go. At this point the base of the razor knife will be hitting the bottom of the countertop edge.

  • Tip: You should remove the drawers because handles and knobs get in the way.

Pairing Knife
Now continue to separate the mica edge with the pairing knife using the same long pulling motions. Here’s a reminder again, be extra patient and careful one slip and the Formica counters flat surface can become totally ruined. You may be able to remove the entire edge with the paring knife. By separating the two surfaces completely at one end, by using semi long strokes, you can now grab the Formica edge with your hand and pull on the mica as you are cutting with the knife. Depending upon how strong the contact glue bond is it may or may not come off easily.

Putty Knife
Once you have one end completely starting to remove from the board you can try using the putty knife in a pushing motion while pulling the laminate edge off of the board.

  • Tip: Be extremely careful, plastic laminate when it breaks is as sharp as a razor blade. You may want to use gloves.

Cutting the new edge to length
Now that the edge is removed it is time for the counter top edge replacement installation. Take your Formica edges and trim them to length using the tin snips or paper cutter. If you use the tin snips you should draw a pencil line using the speed square.

Applying the contact glue
It will be necessary to apply the contact cement to both pieces. If you’re using a spray grade adhesive make sure that you cut a piece of card board to use as a shield for stopping the excess glue from getting on your cabinets or appliances. Refer to this article for glue recommendations, What Kind Of Glue Should Be Used On Loose Formica.

Sticking the new Formica plastic lamiante edge to the countertop
If your working with a long piece, you should roll it with the adhesive on the outside of the roll. The size of a stool seat is a good rule of thumb to follow. Don’t roll it to tight because it will break. Start in one corner and begin to apply the new piece of mica. As the two surfaces are adhering use upward pressure so that the new piece will seat tightly underneath the plastic laminate that is on the top surface. Please note, once the two pieces stick together you will not be able to adjust the piece. Don’t miss the mark.

Block of wood and hammer
Now take the block and place it flat on the surface of the new Formica edge and tap it with the hammer all along the entire edge. Your hammer hits should be firm not wimpy but also not so hard that it is dangerous. Be firm but gentle during this step.

Soap or wax
At this point the original countertop surface edge should be hanging over the new strip of mica. If you are using a router it will be necessary to apply wax or soap along where the router bit will be hitting the Formica edge. This will keep the bit from marring the surface.

Cutting the plastic laminate strips with the router
The direction that you push the router should be counter clockwise. Keep the base flat to the surface of the main top, tight to the edge and keep moving while it is cutting. Do not stop while the router bit is turning and touching the edge, it will burn the laminate. You must keep the router moving during this process. Now you must trim the underside of the top too.

Sanding block and file
Use the sanding block along the underside of the counter edge to sand it flush and to knock off the sharpness of the mica. Now take the file and gently hone the main top edge flush with the new mica strip.

For cleaning with Lacquer Thinner  refer to “How to Remove Contact Glue From Formica

As always, I recommend that you hire a professional to replace your countertop mica edge. These steps will yield excellent results, but if you are not familiar with working with Formica please use all of the resources available to you for studying. Go on Youtube and watch some counter mica laminating videos. As I mentioned earlier, it will be cost effect for you to just hire someone rather than purchasing a high speed laminate trimmer. Unless you think you will use it more after you make the replacement of the plastic laminate edge. Replacing damaged or chipped counter edges can be done by the weekend “do it yourself” handyman. The only thing that is really needed more than anything is be patient and take your time.

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