How to Build a Laminate Counter

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shares his secrets for fabricating a stylish new plastic-laminate kitchen countertop

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 ⅝-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.

 
 

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