• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shares his secrets for fabricating a stylish new plastic-laminate kitchen countertop.

    Steps:
    1. Set the -inch plywood countertop substrate into place on top of the cabinets.
    2. Cut the plywood backsplash pieces down to size using a circular saw and straightedge guide.
    3. Slip the backsplashes between the rear edge of the counter and the wall.
    4. Press the backsplashes tight against the wall, then scribe a cut line along the top of the plywood counter.
    5. Use a circular saw and straightedge guide to cut the counter down to size; be sure to allow for a 1-inch overhang along the front of the counter, and ¼ inch at the ends.
    6. Test fit the counter to ensure it fits properly.
    7. Attach 4-inch-wide plywood build-up strips around the perimeter underside of the counter, and along any seams.
    8. Use a block plane to trim the build-up strips flush with the counter edges.
    9. Lay plastic laminate sheet on top of counter and make a rough cut with a laminate router.
    10. Use trim router or table saw to cut 2-inch-wide strips of laminate for covering the edges of the 1¼-inch-thick counter. Cut 1-inch-wide strips for covering the edges of the backsplash.
    11. Spray aerosol contact cement onto the back surfaces of the edge-laminate strips and along the edges of the countertop. Wait about 6 or 8 minutes until the cement feels tacky.
    12. Stick the laminate strips onto the counter edges, then press them down with a J-roller.
    13. Remove the excess laminate with a trim router.
    14. Use a belt sander to sand the edge laminate strips flush with the top and bottom of the counter.
    15. Trim the laminate flush at the outside corners with a single-cut mill bastard file. Repeat the previous five steps to cover the backsplashes with laminate.
    16. Trace around the sink template and cut the sink hole in the counter using a jigsaw.
    17. Use a paint roller to apply contact cement to the top of the counter and to the back side of the countertop laminate. Wait about 6 or 8 minutes until the cement feels tacky.
    18. Cover the counter with several ½-inch-diameter wood dowels. Set the laminate on top.
    19. Check to be sure laminate overhangs the counter on all edges and ends, then start pulling out the wood dowels.
    20. Press down the laminate using a J-roller.
    21. Use the trim router to cut away the excess laminate from around the edges of the counter, and from the sink cutout.
    22. Apply a bead of silicone adhesive to the rear edges of the counter.
    23. Fasten the backsplash to the rear of the counter using 2-inch screws.
    24. Set the completed counter down on top of the cabinets.
    25. Lift the front edge of the counter and apply silicone adhesive to the tops of the cabinets.
    26. Run a bead of silicone adhesive around the sink cutout, then drop the sink down onto the counter.
    • 6 to 8 hours for small- to medium-size counter
    • $400 to $800, depending on the type of laminate and model of sink
    • Difficulty: Hard
      requires experience with cutting, trimming and applying plastic laminate
Ask TOH users about Kitchen Countertops

Contribute to This Story Below

    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • circular saw
        Portable circular saw and straightedge guide, used to cut plywood parts to size
      • drill
        Drill/driver, for drilling holes and driving screws
      • belt sander
        Belt sander and 100-grit belt, for smoothing the laminate flush with the plywood top
      • block plane
        Block plane, used to trim the plywood build-up strips flush with the plywood top
      • trim router
        Trim router fitted with flush-cutting bit, for trimming laminate
      • single cut file
        Single-cut mill bastard file, used to trim the laminate flush
      • j-roller
        J-roller, used to press the laminate down into the contact cement
      • jigsaw
        Jigsaw, for making sink cutout in countertop
      • caulk gun
        Caulking gun, used to apply silicone adhesive
      • air compressor
        Air compressor, air hose, pneumatic brad nailer and 1-inch brads, used to attach plywood build-up strips to underside of counter

      Shopping List

      1. -inch A-C fir plywood, used to make substrate for counter and backsplash

      2. Plastic laminate, used to cover plywood substrate

      3. Contact cement, used to adhere top laminate

      4. Paint roller, short-nap paint-roller sleeve, used to apply contact cement 5. Aerosol contact cement, used to adhere edge laminate

      6. Silicone adhesive, for securing sink to counter, and counter to cabinets

      7. Assorted drywall screws, for assembling the counter and attaching the backsplash

      8. ½-inch-diameter wood dowels, used to prevent laminate from sticking to counter