Proper method for applying laminate to countertop

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Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 01-22-2013 07:37 PM 4494 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 2992 days

01-22-2013 07:37 PM

I am working on a counter top that is 1.5” thick, 6’ long and 14” deep with a half circle on one end.

It will look like this:

I am planning on making it out of a lamination of two 3/4 pieces of MDF. I am going to put white formica on the top and on the edges as well to hide the MDF. Now to my question, I have done formica on the top of things before but never on the edges. I would usually put wood trim around the edges but since there is a half circle shape, that is not really easy to do.

What I am thinking is to laminate the MDF together to get it to 1.5” thick, then put the formica on the top and trim it flush, then rip a piece of formica 2” wide at the table saw, affix that 2” wide piece along the edge of the workpiece and then trim that flush running the router with the baseplate along the edge of the counter top.

Just wasn’t sure if it was better to do one piece or the other first (i.e do the edge or the top before the other). Any suggestions?

10 replies so far

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3285 days

#1 posted 01-22-2013 07:45 PM

Personally I always did the edging first. trim & sand flush to top surface, then apply the top laminate with a little overhang all the way around. Flush trim or bevel trim top laminate to edge.

-- John @

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2798 days

#2 posted 01-22-2013 07:46 PM

Is the Formica dark under the white finish or white all the way through?

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View allwood's profile


84 posts in 2164 days

#3 posted 01-22-2013 07:55 PM

I build a lot of tops for custom kitchens and always do edges first then top. That way the seam is on the face and not the top so moisture if it occurs will drip off as laminate sometimes expands and contracts with heat. It’s also easier to trim from the top than the edge.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2992 days

#4 posted 01-22-2013 08:14 PM

Not sure about the formica and if the color goes all the way through, I haven’t purchased it yet. It sounds like the consensus is to do edges first and then do the top so that’s what I will do. Thanks very much for the advice.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5663 posts in 2814 days

#5 posted 01-22-2013 08:35 PM

1+ on edges first. That way you don’t see the formica edge when viewed from the top.

Also, make sure you have a bucket, or something heavy to place in the middle of the MDF during glueup. Otherwise the lamination will not be flat. Clamping cauls work too.

Are you related to allwood? Nice profile pics guys!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2691 days

#6 posted 01-22-2013 08:36 PM

Edges first, belt sand it flat.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2249 days

#7 posted 01-22-2013 10:50 PM

I’ve built alot of countertops. I use 3/4 particle board. I don’t double it up but just cut strips or pieces that set on the cabinets around the edges. Glue it and brad nail it. Flushed trim the edges if needed. If this is setting on a pole at the end than you have to double stack it. If you double stack it after nailing and gluing put some 1 1/4 sheet rock screws from the bottom to make it good and flat. The glue up and nailing would be the same. Nail from the bottom. You could still do wood edge by pocket screwing enough hard wood to the end to make it around the edge and get you back to the straight run. I personally think this would look a lot better than laminate edges that make it look like you got it from menards or home depot. Other wise, always the edges first and remember to tilt your router with the flush trim router a bit out so you don’t burn the edge laminate when you trim the top laminate. I take a 45 degree bit with bearing and set it so that just a lit bit of the edge of the bit sticks out to trim and finish up the edge. A lot easier than filing and sanding and gives it a better uniform look.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3159 days

#8 posted 01-22-2013 11:21 PM

Edges first. You don’t want the tops of the edges visible. Not only it is unsightly, but it is a temptation for people with fingernails to pry on it, which happens subconsciously with kids.

Use contact cement, if you didn’t already know that.

I too would only use one layer of the substrate with a second layer laminated only at the edges and then trimmed back to the right curve. The second layer is only large enough to give you something to glue onto.

-- jay,

View SamuraiSaw's profile


515 posts in 1965 days

#9 posted 01-22-2013 11:29 PM

Most laminate has color on the top and a dark substrate. At one time WilsonArt was selling a laminate that was the same color throughout, but it was expensive and only came in solid colors.

As others have said, edge first then the top.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

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Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3394 days

#10 posted 01-22-2013 11:44 PM

At the shop, we use a normal spray gun with a very fluid contact cement…...but if you do not have that type of equipment, 2 cans of Super77 will complete the job. Make the edge first, trim-file it flush with both sides and then apply the top. If you re using a Lminte Trimmer / Plm Router, avoid using straight bits to tim the top, since they can damage the front piece. A “V” router bit would be much better.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

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