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Laminate is a popular choice for countertops because it’s inexpensive and it comes in many different colors and patterns. Unlike solid surface countertops like granite or stone, installing laminate countertops is an approachable DIY project.
There are several ways to install laminate countertops in your home. You can build a laminate countertop from scratch or purchase a pre-manufactured countertop, which is called a post-form countertop. Post-form countertops are made in standard-sized lengths and come with an integrated backsplash. The easiest way to install a countertop yourself is to install a post-form countertop.
This guide shows you how to install laminate countertops using step-by-step instructions. This guide assumes that the cabinets are level and that the old countertop and sink have been removed.
Building Your Own Laminate Countertop
When learning how to install laminate countertops, it is possible to make your own countertop using a stable substrate, contact adhesive and sheet laminate. Here are the general steps:
- Create a template of the countertop using 3-inch strips of luan. Lay the strips across the cabinets, using them to trace the outside perimeter of the countertop. Cut and glue luan strips together to create the template.
- Transfer the template to sheets of MDF. Trace and then cut the MDF to the shape.
- Glue and then nail 2-inch wide strips around the bottom of the cut shape, making sure they are flush with the edge.
- Run a strip of MDF across the seam, and down the center of the cutout. This will give the center of the countertop some rigidity as it sits on the cabinets.
- Rip a strip of laminate to apply to the front and side edge of the countertop.
- Apply contact cement as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Adhere the laminate to the MDF top, rolling it firmly in place with a laminate roller. Trim as needed.
- Rough-cut the sheet laminate so that it is about 1 to 2 inches larger than the MDF substrate.
- Apply contact cement as per the manufacturer’s instructions to the MDF and sheet laminate.
- Lay dowels or strips of venitian blinds across the MDF, and set the laminate on top.
- Working from one corner, remove the dowel/blind strip one at a time, pressing down firmly.
- Once you’ve adhered the laminate fully, roll it with a laminate roller.
- Trim the laminate to size using a laminate trimmer.
- Repeat this process if adding a backsplash, then glue and screw the backsplash in place.
Measure the Countertop
If you are installing countertops from a post-form or installing custom countertops, begin by meauring the space.
- Start by measuring the layout of the tops of the cabinets.
- When you measure for your countertop, be sure to include the counter overhang, which is usually between 3/4 to 1-inch in front of the cabinet face and on open ends.
- Plan to run the countertop flush with the cabinet sides or filler strip wherever a cabinet touches or leans against an appliance.
- Plan for an end cap at each appliance and wherever the countertop ends.
- If your countertop is L-shaped, you’ll need to purchase left and right miter pieces and the hardware kit.
- Most post-form countertops have a lip in the front to make them appear thicker than they are. If that’s the case with your countertop, you’ll want to build up the difference so that the lip doesn’t sit below the face frame.
- You can do this by either adding strips to the bottom of the countertop or by adding them to the top of the cabinets. Adding them to the cabinets will provide a way for securing the countertop to them.
- Run a strip of plywood at least 2 inches wide along the back of the cabinets. Be sure the plywood is the same thickness to make up for the lip at the front edge.
- Run a second strip across the front of the cabinets.
Turn off Water Supply
- Before you begin installation, turn off the water supply and turn off electricity at the circuit breaker. This will help avoid any damage or plumbing issues when removing and installing the sink into the countertop.
- Next, remove the garbage disposal and sink.
- You may also need to remove your electric cooktop.
- Cut the caulking between the backsplash and the wall.
- Now, remove the backsplash panel from the wall.
- Then remove any tile in the backsplash area as well.
Slide Old Countertop Out
- Unscrew the countertop from the cabinets.
- Check to make sure the dishwasher isn't connected to the countertop.
- Slide the countertop out. Try to remove it all in one piece, if possible.
Dry Fit New Countertop
- Confirm that the new countertop fits in place by dry-fitting it.
- Slide it into place and check that it fits snugly yet comfortably along the walls and meets all edges.
Tip: If there is an overhang, consider using countertop support brackets to keep it level.
Measure and Cut Backsplash
- Measure and mark the length of the backsplash pieces.
- Now, using your circular saw, cut the pieces to size.
Tip: Add painter's tape over the cut line to ensure a clean, even line.
Attach Countertop to Cabinet
- Once you are happy with the fit and placement of the countertop, begin installing the laminate countertop to base cabinets.
- Secure it in place using screws. 1 1/4-inch long screws should work, though double check before driving them in as you do not want a screw to come through the top.
● Run screws from inside the cabinet up.
- Lay the sink template on top of the counter and tape it in place. Be sure to follow any centerlines and align the template as desired with the base cabinet below and the window, if there is one.
- Drill a 1-inch hole in each corner of the sink template.
- Remove the template, and run blue painters tape between the holes.
- Draw a line on the painters' tape connecting the holes using a straight edge.
- Cut the rest of the opening using a jigsaw.
- Cut the sides first, then run a scrap piece of 1x across the sink area.
- Attach the 1x to the sink cutout with a screw through the middle. This piece will secure the cutout as you finish the cut.
- Complete the cutout by following the line at the front and back of the sink.
- Remove the cutout.
- Install the sink as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Repeat this process for the stovetop, if applicable.
- Once installed, re-install the garbage disposable and drain lines. Turn back on the water supply and electricity at the breaker.
Now it's time to attach the laminate backsplash.
- Apply construction adhesive along the back of the backsplash.
- Next, apply a bead of silicone along the edge of the wall and counter.
- Set the backsplash in position. If necessary, use temporary braces from scrap pieces of the backsplash to hold it in place until adhesive cures.
- Replace any ceramic tile or remaining backsplash you removed in the kitchen.
Enjoy Your New Countertop
- Installing laminate countertops is a cost-effective way to update not only your kitchen, but your bathroom and laundry room countertops as well.
- Once your laminate counter installation is complete, enjoy your newly updated kitchen.
Learning how to install laminate countertops yourself is a straightforward process that can fully transform your kitchen design and functionality. It can be done well with the right supplies and step-by-step instructions. We have everything you need to begin installing laminate countertops, including installation services.