The two common types of countertops are pre-formed and self-rimmed. Pre-formed tops are assembled from the manufacturer while self-rimmed tops are built at the jobsite using raw materials (laminates and plywood or particle board). The sheets of 1/16″ thickness for self-rimmed laminates are available in 4 x 8 foot sheets but can be special ordered in a range from 2 to 5 foot widths and from 6 to 12 foot lengths. Store the laminates in your kitchen for at least 48 hours prior to installation to have time to acclimatize to the temperature and humidity.
Routing Counter Edges
1. When planning your cuts, reserve the factory edges for those counter edges that you will be unable to reach with a router, as where counter top meets backsplash, etc. The laminate should be cut with a sabre saw fitted with a fine-toothed blade, and cuts should be made leaving a half inch margin on all sides but the factory edge.
2. Use a soft paintbrush or a vacuum cleaner to completely remove any dust from the counter and the back of the laminate strip being applied.
3. Begin by fastening the edging in place. Lay the piece on the top surface, next to the edge and apply the adhesive to the back of the edging piece with a brush.. Any excess adhesive brushed past the edge piece will be removed later. Make sure the surface of the edge of the support-core piece is free of sanding dust or dirt. Apply two coats of adhesive to the support-core edge. Allow all to dry thoroughly, and then bond the edge piece to the support-core piece. If it\’s a long piece, have someone help hold and support the strip as you align and press the strip in place. Use the J-roller to bond the strip firmly in place.
4. Trim the laminate with a carbide tipped flush-cuffing bit router. Hold the router in position with the lower part of the faceplate flat against the newly laminated strip and the bit held just above the excess. Slowly lower the router until the bit meets the counter top then move the router along the strip, trimming flush with the counter top. Trim the excess laminate on all sides of the edge, moving in a counter clockwise motion.
5. The next step is to apply the top laminate piece. After laminating all of the counter edges and trimming them with the router, smooth the top edges with a sanding block fitted with 80 grit sandpaper. Then dust thoroughly. BE CAREFUL not to touch the sandpaper to the laminate surface as it will leave permanent scratches.
6. Apply adhesive with a roller, brush or trowel, following manufacturer’s recommendations. Allow to dry thoroughly. Set the laminate piece aside. Apply two coats of adhesive on the top of the counter.
7. Allow the adhesive to dry thoroughly, then place dowel rods or wood strips 6 inches apart on the top surface. Position the laminate on the strips. Align the laminate with the top surface edges.
8. Pull out a strip and apply pressure with a J-roller. Continue this along each strip and apply pressure until the entire laminate piece is solidly secured, while paying attention to all edges.
9. Use the router to trim excess laminate and trim the edge. Finally, use a mile file with downward and outward strokes to smooth up all the edges.