How To Repair Plastic Laminates

Repairing plastic laminates is not particularly difficult. Attention to detail is the key.

Repairing plastic laminates is not particularly difficult. Attention to detail is the key.

Plastic laminates, or Formica, make nearly perfect impervious countertops. However, they do suffer damage from time to time. Burns, gouges, scratches, knife cuts, and torn sections happen as time goes on. In many cases, it is best to replace the countertop both from a cost perspective, as well as from a permanence standpoint. Typical Formica repairs do not last as long as a proper replacement would. Nevertheless, there is a place for small repairs on Formica countertops.

Preparation

  1. Determine whether the size of the damage warrants a repair or a replacement of the entire countertop.
  2. If possible, contact the installer of your countertop to obtain the manufacturer’s name. The manufacturer will be able to direct you to the proper product needed for the repairs.
  3. Purchase the proper laminate filler. If you do not have access to the proper filler or do not know what the proper filler should be, you can use an automotive body filler product like Bondo.

Repairing the plastic laminate

  1. Clean the surface thoroughly.
  2. Sand the damaged area and remove all the dust.
  3. Apply the filler with a putty knife and leave it a little proud of the surrounding surface.
  4. After the filler dries, sand it flat and smooth with increasingly fine grits of sandpaper.
  5. If necessary, thin the filler and reapply a final thin layer to fill in minute holes and defects.
  6. Sand the filler a final time with very fine grit sandpaper and remove the dust.
  7. Wipe down the repair with lacquer thinner and let the surface dry thoroughly.
  8. Apply a primer designed for use on plastic laminates.
  9. Once the primer is dry, apply a coat or two of a good quality top coat that matches the finish of the surrounding plastic laminate.

Tips

If you need to reglue a loose portion of damaged countertop, use lacquer thinner or acetone to dissolve the dried adhesive. You can also use a torch to free the plastic laminate. Be careful not to overheat it or burn the substrate.

If you remove the damaged area and replace it with a patch of the same plastic laminate, make sure you bevel matching edges so they are nearly invisible when the patch is done.

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