Care and Repair of Plastic Laminate
Even with tile, porcelain, Corian, Avonite and other fine surfaces available, plastic laminate still is a popular choice for kitchen countertops. It is relatively inexpensive, comes in a variety of colors and textures and is easy to remove or replace. You may know plastic laminate by a couple of its brand names Formica or Wilsonart.
Properly cared for, plastic laminate can last a lifetime. Use non-abrasive cleaners that won’t scratch or dull the surface. Also, always use a trivet between the counter and pots to prevent hot cookware from melting or delaminating the surface.
There are two common problems with plastic laminate countertops chipping and torn edges. In the past, you either lived with them or replaced the top. However, thanks to modern technology, you now can repair a small chip for less than $20. And for about the same cost you can also make an edge repair.
The process for repairing a small chip in a countertop is exactly the same as filling the seam when repairing a torn edge.
Plastic laminate is nothing more than paper and resins bonded together under heat and pressure. So, if you want to cut it, all you need is a razor knife. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to cut. Use a square as a guide to make a straight, true cut. Use a putty knife or a chisel to clean the area to be repaired. Make sure to scrape the surface enough to get off all the old glue.
To get your repair material for free, visit a countertop manufacturer. Ask for a sample chip and use it to make the repair. Even a bad dye match is better than a big black spot on a brightly colored counter.
Make sure the thickness of the sample chip is the same as the material on the counter edge. If not, sand the back of the sample chip with 100-grit sandpaper until it is the proper thickness.
Apply a coat of contact cement to the back of the repair chip and to the repair area at the edge of the counter. Let both areas dry for approximately 30 minutes.
You’ll have to press the repair chip into place. And be careful contact cement does not forgive. You won’t be able to slide the repair piece around once the two layers of contact cement have touched.
Next, use a fine-tooth file to shape the patch to the contour of the counter. Take your time. This is the part that can make or break the job. A crooked edge will stick out like a sore thumb. If you use a router with an edging bit (instead of the file) no one will ever know a patch was made.
Finally, to conceal the joint, use Kampel SeamFil. This is the only product we know of anywhere in the country that is available to fill seams, joints and small chips in plastic laminates. Kampel SeamFil sells seam filler to order in custom mixed colors. They also offer kits that you can use to mix your own colors.
First, clean the joint with SeamFil solvent. Next, squeeze a small amount of the SeamFil onto a scrap of laminate or an extra sample chip. Use a polished putty knife to mix and-or work the SeamFil until it begins to thicken. A putty knife that is polished won’t damage the surface. Use the same putty knife to press the SeamFil into the joint. Finally, clean away excess SeamFil with a rag moistened with solvent.
If you’re interested in repairing your laminate countertop or cabinet, you can find a SeamFil dealer near you by calling the manufacturer at (717) 432-9688. A tube of SeamFil mixed to your specifications and a small container of solvent will cost about $20. If you prefer mixing your own color, you’ll want to order the mixing kit. It contains 12 standard mixing colors, solvent, a polished putty knife and mixing instructions, and sells for about $35.