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Problems with Plastic Laminate Cabinets

For the most part people don’t have too many problems with kitchen or bathroom vanity cabinets that have been fabricated correctly using plastic laminate. The trouble comes when the cupboards get abused or the manufacture neglects to either file the material flush or apply enough glue to the Formica or board that it is being glued to.

Why do Chips Occur in Formica

1) There was not enough glue sprayed on the surfaces when the cabinet doors, sides, faces or bottom edges where being laminated.
2)  There was sufficient glue applied but the covering was not rolled using firm pressure.
3) The cabinet Formica  glue was applied correctly; the cabinet part was rolled well but in the final stages of the cleaning process, using lacquer thinner, too much of the liquid was applied to the glue’s seam and seeped between the laminate and the board, causing it to become loose.
4) Defective contact cement caused the edges to loosen.
5) The edges of the cabinets or doors were not filed properly.
6) Home owners or rental tenants do not treat the cabinet edges next to the floor with care, when they are cleaning.  Brooms or mops get caught on the laminate while they are cleaning and another chip is formed. Some of this problem is related to the manufacture not filing the edges well and because a little bit is hanging past the edge, it gets caught on the broom.

Problems with Plastic Laminate Contact Glue

There’s really only one problem with plastic laminate glue that cabinet makers and customers should be aware of, non-flammable contact glue can create major problems if it is not used correctly.

Non-Flammable Defects
Problems occur when this form of glue is located near heat sources. Even direct sunlight, shinning through a window on top of countertops for extended periods of time, can cause the glue to let loose of its bond.

Flammable Defects
For the most part, there will not be any real difficulties that arise from using flammable contact cement. If too much of the glue is applied when applying the plastic laminate, it’s possible that a good bond will not be obtained. On the other hand, if not enough of the adhesive is applied it will not hold. This holds true for both flammable and non flammable grades of contact cement.

Problems with Particle Board Plastic Laminate Cabinets

If you have ever had particle board cabinets that got damaged due to water seeping through a plastic Formica countertop seam, then you’re probably a Formica protester. Sometimes sinks accidentally overflow or unexpected floods happen in a home that causes damage to plastic laminated particle board cabinets and  countertops.

I guess the main culprit that creates difficulty with particle board cabinets is water.

Manufactures use this flake-board substance because it can generally be purchase at a third of the cost of using ply-wood and laminating it with Formica.

The most common damage seems to occur on the countertops in the areas where there are seams. This can be avoided by having your cabinet’s countertops fabricated using ply-wood rather that particleboard.

Most of the problems with laminated cabinetry could be avoided if cabinet makers and home owners took some extra precautionary measures to ensure that no chips would happen and that no water damage could occur. Plastic laminate is almost indestructible if it is applied properly. Materials like contact glue and particle board can be implemented into a kitchen or bathroom vanity project using various the techniques that will ensure that no problems arise for the end user. When a kitchen or bathroom is manufactured correctly and the home owner takes care of the product it will last a lifetime.

  1. Blanca Joshnick
    January 19th, 2010 at 12:31 | #1

    My laminate kitchen cabinets are only 3 years old and they are delaminating. I can’t find the builder because they are not in business anymore. I also don’t have the money to replace all the cabinets. Can something be done? Can we open a small cut and put glue with a siringe? Is not the entire cabinet, is only some of the drawers and walls.

  2. lisa
    February 8th, 2010 at 08:09 | #2

    This problem is the same as mine also the business as gone out of business, 14 cubaords out of 23 have done this also my kitchen is only a few years old, have you had any luck? @Blanca Joshnick

  3. Chris Clark
    February 11th, 2010 at 11:05 | #3

    I have an almost identical problem. Mine are also 3 years old in a new build. Builder also not in business any longer. I live in Farnborough, Hants.

  4. admin
    April 14th, 2010 at 06:39 | #4

    Blanca, it would be good to have a cabinet professional take a look a your situation. Oftentimes there is a quick solution to your problem. DO NOT have a “handyman” examine them. You must get a company who deals in cabinetry on a regular basis.

  5. January 14th, 2011 at 21:17 | #5

    My laminated cabinets were installed in 2005 and were fine until a male cat adopted me.
    He tries to open the base cabinets and over time has managed to loosen the edge of several doors. I was unsuccessful in training him to leave them alone. What can I do to repair these doors?

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