Replacing Laminate Countertops


Old 04-15-13, 11:54 AM
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Replacing Laminate Countertops


We are in the process of replacing our kitchen countertops. We have a small kitchen with an "L" shaped counter. Only one part of the "L" runs along a wall. The other end of the "L" serves as a "breakfast bar" and is open on both sides. Our house is about 15 years old, and the walls are pretty straight.

We had our lumber yard come out and professionally measure the counters, and had everything ordered with the end caps installed, etc (laminate tops). They want $325 to do the install. I'm fairly handy, and have done many improvement projects, but have never done countertops. The biggest factor is, I don't have a belt sander.

My question is, what are my chances of getting by without using a belt sander being the counter runs along 1 wall, and the other end is open? I want to have a nice looking finished product, and don't want something cobbled. Any pointers or comments would be appreciated!


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Old 04-15-13, 12:30 PM
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I would bet a neighbor has a belt sander you could borrow.
Old 04-15-13, 02:50 PM
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One of the first tricks that I learned, back in the day, concerns the rough in placement of the laminate prior to allowing the two glue surfaces to make contact. As you should know, both the counter top and the underside of the laminate need to be coated with a liberal application of contact cement. After both applications have dried (tacky) you are ready to set the laminate upon the counter top. Do not let the two surfaces touch each. To do this, take an old slat style window blind (plastic or metal, 1/2" or 3/4") and, separate all of the slats. Find an old blind that is as long as the widest part of the surface area (thrift store) . For a 24" counter, use a 30"/ 36" slat. Space these slats on the glued surface of the counter top about 6" apart such that you can set the laminate on top, move it left, right, in or out without the two glued surfaces touching. When the rough cut laminate is placed exactly where you want it then, start at one end and start pulling out the slats. The laminate will then set in place right where you want it to be. After all of the slats are pulled, roll the top surface of the laminate to assure a positive adhesion. Good luck
Old 04-15-13, 06:49 PM
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If you have ordered counter tops with loose back splashes, you will not have to scribe and cut to fit the wall. The back splash will hide any wave in the wall as compared to the the perfectly straight line of the counter top. It sounds to me that your concerns are with the end of the breakfast bar side the counter top. They make pre-cut pieces that will finish off this area, or they will send it out pre-installed if requested.
Old 04-16-13, 03:39 AM
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On a precast backsplash countertop that wraps to a breakfast bar, the return is specially made and the bar part is wider than the 24" countertop over the walled cabinets. Just so you know. Look at installed countertops, take measurements and you will see what I mean. Pay attention to the corner return as it is not a standard cut.

I was set to order some exactly as you describe on a remodel project once, but decided to call in HD designer to measure. Glad I did, as the delivered pieces did not fit and the designer failed to take into consideration the extra length for the bar part. That would have cost me had I made that mistake. Glad they did it.
Old 04-16-13, 04:45 AM
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As soon as they say, "using your measurements?, please sign this waiver..." - That's when I call on them to come out and let them do the measuring.

I had a small kitchen in which we installed a sink cut out in the corner of the cabinets which gave more counter space to the owners. We had a corner base cabinet that was at 45 deg. to the rest of the cabinets. I handed them my measurements, they responded with the above statement and I had them send someone out. Needless to say, the guy who came to do the measurement was impressed with my sketch and ended up using my measurements. I, of course, had piece of mind that I would not eat any of the countertop should anything go wrong.
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