Building Formica Countertops.

 
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Old 04-05-2007, 09:09 PM   #1
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Building Formica Countertops.


I need to build some formica countertops. I've never done this before.

I see that particle board is the normal thing to use.

In my mind 3/4 inch. plywood glued together with perpendicular grain runs will be stronger.

Is it that the formica glue adheres better to particle board than CDX plywood?

Please don't suggest useing MDF.
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Old 04-05-2007, 09:22 PM   #2
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Particle board is fine,but if the top is in a kitchen or bath the build up underneath should be plywood. Particle board build up don't hold up well with water dripping off of it all the time.Plywood is also fine for a top it just drives up the cost of materials.As far as contact cement go's it will stick fine to either wood you choose.

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Old 04-05-2007, 10:26 PM   #3
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


I don't recommend cdx or a/c plywood because it has a lot of voids.
The best stuff is what they sell at the laminate supply. Use 2 or 3 inch rips glued and screwed underneath for your build up. Keep the edge perfectly flush.

What are your concerns with strength?
The particle board is pretty flexible and could sag unsupported on a run of around 4 feet or more.

The best glue for laminate is "Sta-Put". Also at the laminate supply.
It's not cheap but it's worth it. You better believe it stays put! Which is great until you let your laminate touch before you get it lined up right...
Don't waste your time with any 3M or any spray glue that they have at Lowes. The brush on contact cement is pretty weak too.

Speaking of getting it lined up right, I use rope. A 50 foot piece will do most tops. Just lay it out front to back in loops about 4 inches apart.
Then lay your laminate on top of the rope. Line it up and start pulling the rope out one loop at a time and pressing the laminate down as you go. Piece of cake.
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:13 PM   #4
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


I've done 3 times: 2 kitchens and 1 galley in a boat. I researched the issue of what is the best substrate and was told that plywood would expand and contract with humidity and defeat the glue wheras the particle board would stay adhered to the plastic better. Believe me, I did not want to put particle board on a boat, but that was the only substrate recommended... the secrect is to saturate the edges under the rim of sink, etc with polyurethane to waterproof it. Be sure to plan your routed corners carefully, the top needs to extend past the edge binder lam. Its pretty straightforward. The other guy explained about placement very well. Don't let it settle into the wrong position because you may not be able to move it.
edit: The 'rope trick' should work well; I used 1/2 inch dowels. By the way a 60 watt light bulb will melt the laminate! Don't make the mistake I made and lay a lighted bulb on the surface!

Last edited by bill r; 04-05-2007 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 04-06-2007, 03:35 PM   #5
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


If water is an issue use a backer sheet under the countertop. I always use 3/4" partical board and 2 1/2" build up strips. Almost as stairbuilder said. But I prefer using Formica brand 151 contact cement. And for big sticks I use dowel rods to hold the laminate off of the substrate. Stick the edgeband first - beltsand flush - stick top - route - file. Just dont burn the edgeband with your file!
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Old 04-06-2007, 03:52 PM   #6
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


I use marine ply, not the box store stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_plywood and go full double sheets.

The sink area has to be enlarged on the base sheet to accept the clips and I seal all of the edges in the cutout with leftover varnish

More expensive, yes. Complaints, 0.
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Old 04-06-2007, 04:40 PM   #7
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


I agree with all the above, except after applying the edges oversize(first) I rout them flush and then put the top down, oversize, and rout it. seal all exposed edges.
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Old 04-06-2007, 06:25 PM   #8
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Partical board is what is recomended for P-laminate as a substrate. If you are concerned with the out gasing from the underside of the countertop, a coat of primer will seal the top tight. For around sinks and tap areas, clear silicone can be applied to the exposed edges and wiped smooth so that it does not gum up your sink or what have you going into the opening.
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Old 04-06-2007, 10:43 PM   #9
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


my first one, I got excited and put the big sheet first before the edge bands. So my seam between the two (after routing) was on the top, rather than the side! Wife made me do-over. I thought it was OK. She laughed.

edit: Expensive mistake.

Last edited by bill r; 04-06-2007 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 04-07-2007, 10:20 AM   #10
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Using a belt sander to trim the edge band flush is really risky. One slip and you're screwed. Flush cut bit in your laminate trimmer is the way to go.
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Old 04-07-2007, 01:31 PM   #11
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bill r View Post
my first one, I got excited and put the big sheet first before the edge bands. So my seam between the two (after routing) was on the top, rather than the side! Wife made me do-over. I thought it was OK. She laughed.

edit: Expensive mistake.
You can do that, just do not trim the top until the facing has been applied. If you have a good work surface and square cut facing this can be a better way to install the laminate. You do not have to worry about glued p-lam chips sticking to the top, and the problem cleaning up the top before appling glue.
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Old 04-07-2007, 02:16 PM   #12
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StairBuilder View Post
Using a belt sander to trim the edge band flush is really risky. One slip and you're screwed. Flush cut bit in your laminate trimmer is the way to go.
Still have to sand after routing. Your router leaves small "ridges" or router marks in the lam. 150grit on the beltsander or a beltsanding belt wrapped around a pc of wood of equal size is safer if your not handy with the beltsander.
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:28 AM   #13
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


There's certainly nothing wrong with that. I just run my file over the top after routing. Not so much to smooth the lam as to remove the sticky chips that the router leaves.
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Old 04-20-2007, 07:57 AM   #14
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


i've found water-based contact cement is much easier on the nose (but nauseating) yet never seems to hold as well as the toxic garbage. i like to spread the contact cement with wide spatulas of whatever is straight and handy. saw the cabinet guy come in with the spray can and it looked too easy. left ridges where spray overlapped.

i like to use a cheap plain veneer on the back to prevent warpage, at least on my router tables and things where i really want them to stay straight. even though i usually don't go to that extreme on the countertops i've done, i like the concept and try to put an oil based poly on the bottom. doesn't make the cells swell like water-based poly and leaves a thicker mil layer of protection.
i know we do what people think they want, but out here it seems as if all the formica counter people are going under as everyone "has to" buy granite.
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Old 04-20-2007, 09:44 AM   #15
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


My problem with the stone tops is that frequently I sit a wine glass on it, I shatter the wineglass. (Come to think of it, its usually the 3rd or 4th glass of wine.. hmmm)
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Old 05-06-2007, 04:44 PM   #16
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Teetorbilt View Post
I use marine ply, not the box store stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_plywood and go full double sheets.

The sink area has to be enlarged on the base sheet to accept the clips and I seal all of the edges in the cutout with leftover varnish

More expensive, yes. Complaints, 0.

An expense like that in the kitchen counter top business,you would be out of business in a week.
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Old 05-07-2007, 06:19 AM   #17
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


This is just a test.
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Old 03-15-2010, 12:31 PM   #18
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Good topic. Particleboard in a water area if breached anywhere will immediately swell and create a bigger breach where the particleboard will actually disintegrate. MDX, which is exterior, MDF is a lot better but still swells after time exposed to fluids. I use type 1 Marine Virola 3/4 Plywood @ $48 for 4x8. I laminate a 1-inch strip on the face and exposed sides to create a 1 1/2 “ reveal on the self edge that will stick out 1 inch from the cabinet face. To save time I use Wolf Grip 37 lb. pressurized canisters of contact adhesive but if you are single project guy I strongly recommend Wilsonart water-based contact adhesive. There is no odor and is forgiving on first contact if no pressure has been applied. The laminate needs only one liberally applied coat, but the sub-straight needs two. This stuff takes about a week to fully cure, but then it is the strongest bond. I tried de-banding with a heat gun, and it won’t let go. It also works great for applying laminate over laminate.

To prep cutouts I prefer Polyseamseal
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Old 03-15-2010, 12:40 PM   #19
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


Quote:
Originally Posted by EliteDesigns View Post
Good topic. Particleboard in a water area if breached anywhere will immediately swell and create a bigger breach where the particleboard will actually disintegrate. MDX, which is exterior, MDF is a lot better but still swells after time exposed to fluids. I use type 1 Marine Virola 3/4 Plywood @ $48 for 4x8. I laminate a 1-inch strip on the face and exposed sides to create a 1 1/2 “ reveal on the self edge that will stick out 1 inch from the cabinet face. To save time I use Wolf Grip 37 lb. pressurized canisters of contact adhesive but if you are single project guy I strongly recommend Wilsonart water-based contact adhesive. There is no odor and is forgiving on first contact if no pressure has been applied. The laminate needs only one liberally applied coat, but the sub-straight needs two. This stuff takes about a week to fully cure, but then it is the strongest bond. I tried de-banding with a heat gun, and it won’t let go. It also works great for applying laminate over laminate.

To prep cutouts I prefer Polyseamseal
I always have used Temblem which is a particle board specifically made to use under counter tops.

Plywood is not recommended by any maker I know of.
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Old 03-15-2010, 11:19 PM   #20
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Re: Building Formica Countertops.


I was curious re: the last statement concerning plywood not being recommended and quickly found the following at formica.com.

Plywood substrates should be avoided, whenever possible, for use with Formica brand
laminate, and should never be used as a substrate for ColorCore surfacing material.
Because of its cross-ply construction, plywood expands and shrinks less than either of
these laminate grades. This results in greater stress built up within the laminate, and
thereby increases the chance of stress cracking.


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