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Gluing or Attaching Plastic Laminate to Walls

My expertise at gluing Formica to walls comes from attaching (or, “applying”) plastic laminate to many kitchen areas, over 27 years, including wall mica over the backsplashes and areas underneath bar top overhangs. Wheather you’re resurfacing over the top of old mica or installing new pieces for the first time, the installation process is basically the same.

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Can knee walls be laminated with Formica if there is round corner bead?

Yes, but this is not the suggest wall design for applying plastic laminate to these areas. Any wall spaces that will be getting Formica glued to them should have square corner bead installed.

Optional methods of installing mica on walls with round corner bead.

1) Glue the Formica on the wall and add some trim molding over the round corner bead areas.
2) Reconstruct the corner to be square using Bondo as a strong wood filler. This is going to be a messy job. It will require careful planning and a certain level of craftsmanship to get the corner perfectly square to accommodate having a nice plastic laminate seam on the ends, where two pieces of mica intersect.

What Kind of Glue do you install plastic cabinet laminate on walls with?

Contact adhesive is the industry stander for gluing Formica to drywall. The glue should be applied with a sprayer, paint roller or brush. Usually there should be two coats applied before sticking the mica because drywall is somewhat porous. Here is more detail about what kind of glue to use on Formica.

Can wall mica be glued on top of paint?

Yes, but remember that the bond will only be as strong as the paint underneath. Apply the glue very sparingly and quickly on the first coat. Contact glue is flammable and it contains solvents that may affect the paint underneath.  It must be applied sparingly between coats so that it will dry quickly. Spraying it on is the best method to use.

You can use non-flammable contact glue as long as the wall mica will not be exposed to extreme heat or direct sunlight. This will lesson the chances of there being any breakdown of the adhesion molecules in the paint.

What material thickness should be used?

Always use STD or standard thickness plastic laminate. There are many various sizes of Formica that can be purchased to coincide with the dimensions that you will need for the project.

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Installing Wall Mica

Here are the basic steps for installing Formica onto a wall. Large pieces of mica should be handled by two people. Remember once the contact glue has been applied to both surfaces and stuck together, there is no room for adjusting the laminate. So keeping this in mind, be extremely careful to line everything up properly before sticking the mica to the wall.

If at all possible, leave the base boards off while doing the wall Formica lamination, then attach the base molding afterward. This will allow you to cut the laminate shorter than the over all dimension to lesson the possibility of the mica binding during the application process.

1) Use standard (STD) thickness laminate.
2) Measure and examine the areas closely where the mica will be glued onto the wall, paying special attention to any areas where you’re going to have to scribe the pieces to the contour of surrounding elements.
3) Cut the plastic laminate to the desired size making allowances for the areas that you will have to finely adjust to the varying contours. If at all possible, it is best to cut your pieces a little short, extending from top to bottom, and fill them with colored caulking afterward. Obviously for splash wall mica you want the bottom edge to be tight to the countertop or splash. But the top part where it goes under the upper cabinet can be made a little shorter. Trying to get the pieces exact will be difficult and if you miss align the mica when you’re sticking the glue, there will be no margin for error.
4) The laminate should be cut oversize and left to overhang corners where the material can be cut off using a router.

  • Tip: An offset router is the ideal power tool for cutting wall-mica. They are expensive to purchase but worth the investment if you’re planning on doing a lot of plastic laminate work in the future.

5) If you’re working with angled walls, the mica should be almost cut exactly the length needed and then filed down flush to the drywall or the connecting piece of mica after it has been glued down.
6) All wall outlets will need to be measured and cut out prior to sticking the laminate. You may have to pre-cut around window openings and around range hood areas too. Remember that once these areas are cut out, the Formica kitchen laminate is in great danger of tearing in these weakened spots.
7) Glue the mica to the walls, roll the laminate with a roller and route off the excess. It’s best to not run the router against the painted drywall. Use masking tape as a protective coating or route against a scrap piece of VT thickness mica and then file the material flush to the wall.
8) File all areas flush and clean with contact glue cleaner. Review this article if you need to know How to File Plastic Laminate.

  • Tip: Areas next the floor or underneath bar countertops where the router will not cut off the mica completely, use a pair of dikes or diagonal cutters to snip off the small piece of laminate.

Consider using dowel rods or sticks as separators during the alignment process just prior to sticking the material. The process of installing plastic laminate onto walls is tricky because you are sticking the material onto a vertical surface. Sometimes dowel rods or thin strips of wood can aid in the process of gluing the mica accurately onto the wall. Formica is flexible. The sticks keep the material from attaching to the glue on the walls while you are getting it aligned correctly. The lamination process will be a success if you take your time and do sufficient research prior to taking on the task.

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