refinishing a laminate wall unit

Old 08-22-05, 07:09 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
refinishing a laminate wall unit

I have a laminate wall unit with two piers and a shelf in the middle for the tv and accesories. I need to know if and how i can refinish the laminate to match some coffee tables that are darker probably made out of oak hardwood flooring. Let me know if it can be done and if so how and if I should attempt it.

Old 08-23-05, 05:06 AM
George's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: South Hill, Va. USA
Posts: 2,817
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
If by laminate you mean Formica or a similar product you basically have two choices:

Sand - paint the color of your choice.

Apply veneer, stain and finish.
Old 08-23-05, 03:23 PM
mako's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Wake Forest
Posts: 449
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
You can redo it. Laminate is both easy and a pain.

Easy in that there's no paint to mess with, strip, brush on, spray on, wear , etc...

A pain in that contact cement is really fun if you use it improperly, you need a trim router & "bullet" trim bit and a good laminate file (which is tricky to learn to use without messing up the laminate surface), etc... You can cut the laminate with a scoring knife and snap it (like cutting glass or plexi) but it's best cut with a table saw and a helping hand from a buddy, and good face shields. I hate eating laminate chips.

Removing the old laminate can be very difficult, so if it's sticking pretty well, I have used a belt sander and 80 grit to gore up the surface (but keep it flat, no potholes) of the old laminate to accept the contact cement. AWI standards don't allow for this, but I've done it several times on some refurbs for family members and it works fine.

Cut your laminate panels an inch or so bigger than your finish size b/c you're just not going to stick a panel flush on all 4 sides, something will be too short.
Contact cement has little or no give to it once it contacts (oh, be sure to let BOTH surfaces of the contact cement dry well, say 10-20 minutes, before sticking them together or they won't bond properly).

Do your shelves first, sticking the band of lam on the nose first, trim it flush and sand it or file it flat on both sides, then lam the top and bottom of the shelves, good practice and easier to hide any goof since you have the choice of one exposed side and one less exposed side.

For larger lam panels, use some plywood or pine sticks under the lam (they won't stick or mess up to the properly cured contact cement). Plop it on top (literally) using a friend, move it to fit and overhand the edges equally, and start sticking by pulling out the sticks in 1-2-3 order (like the "official" method of squeezing toothpaste) to avoid air bubbles. Rub all surfaces with a roller or a piece of pine that's been blunted a bit. Make a good hard rub to make good bonds.

When trimming the laminate with the trim router and bullet bit, be SURE to spray some WD40 on the face of any laminate that is 90 degrees to what your trimming (ie, like the edges of the counter tops and the nose of the shelves). The WD will lube the bullet bit and keep it from burning a mark.

After trimming with the router, use the laminate file to rub the cut edges more smooth. This is tricky, b/c it is way too easy to burn a mark on the edges (the places you WD40'd).

BTW, I'd recommend trying to find some cheap laminate remnants somewhere if you've never done this before and laminate some plywood pieces, oh, say a foot or two square. Practice laminating the edges first, then the top/bottom.

I say this b/c it's easy but tricky, and laminated plywood makes a good cutting blocks or similar surfaces that come in handy. Just know that they aren't waterproof, no dishwasher!

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: