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Best Way to Repair a Laminate Countertop

  • Transcript

    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.

    How to Repair a Laminate CountertopTOM: That’s right. And the good news is, though, that some of the most typical problems can be repaired. Here to talk about that is Tom Silva, the general contractor for TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    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: Right.

    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: Right.

    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: Right.

    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: Right.

    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: Yeah.

    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.

    LESLIE: OK.

    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.

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