Find out how to repair the most common problems with a laminate countertop. Get tips on fixing burns, loose edges and scratches.
LESLIE: Well, laminate countertops , they’re inexpensive and they can give you the look of natural stone, of course, without the price tag. And they certainly can last a long time but they aren’t quite as durable as stone.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: You know, inadvertently laying down a hot pot or scratching the surface can definitely be one of those sort of “oh, no,” “holy cow,” and other-words-that-I-can’t-say-on-the-radio moments.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, I …
LESLIE: Which is what you’re saying.
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
TOM: I mean how do you get out of those problems? Are those types of things fixable?
TOM SILVA: In some cases, if the hot pot is down there and it’s just bubbled the countertop, you may be able to reheat it. Sounds silly. The hot pot loosened it; now you’ve got to reheat it to put it back down.
TOM SILVA: But you’ve actually got to soften the adhesive underneath; it’s a contact adhesive. And sometimes, you can actually refasten it. If you have a roller, take out your old roller. You roll in the dough and roll that countertop until it cools down. And sometimes, you can refasten it.
TOM: Even without getting additional adhesive in there.
TOM SILVA: Right.
TOM: Just if you get it to restick itself sort of right away.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly.
LESLIE: So this is a sort of – you’ve got to react as it’s happening.
TOM SILVA: Well, no, you can eat and then heat up the pan again and put it down. But it’s smarter to do it right away.
TOM: Smart advice.
TOM SILVA: “Oh, my God, I get the roller.”
TOM: What if you have physical damage in the countertop? Is there a way to kind of do selective surgery and just replace one chunk of it?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, you can cut in a cutting board. It’s probably the easiest way if it’s – if the cutting board is in a good location.
TOM SILVA: But …
TOM: So, basically, you’re essentially cutting out that area of laminate and replacing it with a cutting board.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. And they have different kinds of cutting boards. You can get a solid-surface cutting board. You can get – what do they call – like a Pyrex board? You can get a wooden cutting board.
TOM: You know what the beautiful thing is about doing that? And somebody else will come into your house the next week and go, “Wow, I didn’t know cutting boards were available. What a great idea. How do you get one of those?”
LESLIE: “What a great idea.”
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly. Well, all you do is put one of the pans on your countertop that’ll ruin it and then you can cut one in.
LESLIE: Is it sort of done as a drop-in tray, almost as a drop-in sink would be installed?
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
LESLIE: And then the cutting boards sits in top of – in that?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, some of them, they have this little metal ring that goes around it.
TOM SILVA: And you put the metal ring in. Some of the counter boards just – cutting boards fit in that little ring. Drop it in. You can actually pop it out and flip it over, so when you wear it out – if you’re using a wooden one.
LESLIE: You know, one of the other common things that I’ve noticed – when we first bought our house, we had a lovely Pepto-Bismol pink laminate countertop. And while we lived with it for a while until we could afford the granite, the edge just kept popping off.
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
LESLIE: And I feel like that’s always one of the areas that fails first.
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
LESLIE: So what can you do to make that sort of either reattach or replace it?
TOM SILVA: Well, lots of times you can take an edge – it’s usually the corner. You’re dead-right on. It’s usually the corner, because you’re running by that counter and you catch it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You get stuck on it.
TOM SILVA: Once you’ve caught it, you’ve got to either try to heat it back on with an iron, soften it gently – the glue – and then push it back on with a roller or something firm. And if that doesn’t work and you can’t get it or your piece is broken-out, you’re going to have to replace it
And you’re going to have to find a piece somewhere in the kitchen, usually beside the stove or the refrigerator or in a dead corner – you can – may be able to steal a piece right out of that corner and patch it right into that piece that’s been damaged.
LESLIE: And you don’t use any buffer between the iron and the laminate itself? You don’t need a towel just to prevent further burning?
TOM SILVA: You’ve got to make sure that you don’t overheat the iron. You don’t – what’s – I don’t iron clothes but I mean there’s got to be …
LESLIE: I’m like, “I sew. Full steam, high heat.” That’s …
TOM SILVA: Oh, (inaudible at 0:26:58).
LESLIE: I get an iron, I go crazy with it.
TOM: Look, you can always go hotter. Start medium and work your way up from there, right?
TOM SILVA: That’s true, exactly. That’s good.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. See, I sew but I don’t iron.
LESLIE: So low heat, no steam, be careful.
TOM SILVA: Right. You don’t need that steam. Right.
TOM: What if you have more minor scratches? Is there such a thing as a scratch filler or a seam filler?
TOM SILVA: There is, there is. But you know what? I find that they don’t really work that great. It’s a temporary fix. If you’re going to eventually change it, you may be able to do it. But you can even try those sticks that they use in – wood fillers, like a (inaudible at 0:27:32).
TOM: They look like the freezer pencils a little bit.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean …
TOM: But they’re – they have stain in them. Yeah, OK. Sometimes, though, that almost just highlights the scratch, right?
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Yeah, yeah. I’d find a good cookie jar or something like that. Put …
LESLIE: A mixer, some sort of large appliance.
TOM SILVA: A mixer. A knife, a spoon. Just leave it – “Oh, no. I forgot to put that away.”
TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step videos on how you can repair a laminate countertop, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.