How to Cut Laminate Countertops

Kitchen countertop with stoveInstalling a countertop is fairly easy. The struggle comes with joining two materials together, especially around the corner, to create a flat and continuous finish. If you want to achieve the best joints, you must use the right techniques on how to cut laminate countertops such as maintaining straight edges that are factory-cut. Countertop materials with square edges are easier to put together especially if the front edge has a curved finish.

What Kind of Saw Blade to Cut Laminate Countertops is Ideal?

The perfect saw blade to cut a laminate countertop is a circular miter saw. You can also use a hand saw but a blade with a circular saw makes the job easier and quicker. There are different kinds of circular saw blades in terms of the material they are made of, the diameter, and the number and size of teeth that are ideal for a particular job.

How Do You Cut Laminate Sheets?

Laminate countertops are essentially just layers of tightly pressed papers glued together by a sticky and organic substance called resin. Keep in mind that a circular saw can chip the laminate, which can result in jagged edges. The best way to cut the laminate is to lay it face-side down and cut from the back to the front.

Cutting Laminate Countertops

You must practice caution when cutting laminate countertops by thinking about the kickback potential. If the blade gets nipped in the laminate, it will fly towards you. Make sure to wear protective pieces of equipment like safety glasses and check if the blade is sharp and clean before you begin cutting.

To give you a picture of how it is done, watch this video.

Steps

  1. Scribe the laminate countertop to fit the wall. Keep in mind that any irregularities in the wall surface will cause unsightly gaps along the back edge of the countertop. When buying laminate countertops, consider that you will lose some depth because you might have to trim it to fit the wall. Here’s how to do it:
    1. When scribing the countertop, position the back edge touching the wall.
    2. Measure the gap between the wall and the countertop. Get the width and cut a small block of wood the same size.
    3. Create a guide for trimming by holding a pencil at one side of the wood block and tracing to the other end along the wall.
    4. Cut along the line by using a jigsaw. If there are small pieces that needs to be removed, you may use a sander or a plane.
    5. After trimming, reposition the countertop to check if it is the right fit.
  2. The countertop should be cut to the right length. Each end should overhang by about 1 inch. You can use a handsaw or power saw and an appropriate blade.
    1. To avoid any splintering of the laminate surface, place masking tape over the cutting line. Use a pencil to draw the cutting line and put masking tape over it as a guideline.
    2. Use a straight edge metal ruler along the guideline and score down using a utility knife.
    3. Make sure the countertop is secured and well supported on both sides. Use a panel saw and carefully saw through the scored line.
    4. Remove all the masking tape and smooth the cut edges of the countertop using a plane.
  3. Join two lengths if you want your countertop to turn a corner. Whether the profile of the material is rounded or square, both should held tightly in position. You can use mending plates or biscuit joiner to create a strong joint.
    1. For round-edged countertops or with a curved finished edge, it is quite impossible to create a right-angled butt joint. Your best bet is to use a countertop jig or a joining strip. A jig can help cut an accurate mitered joint.
    2. Unlike round-edged countertops, square-edged countertops can be neatly and easily joined together without using a countertop jig.
      1. Fix the countertops in place. You can use a router to finish the front edge.
      2. Cut the countertop in the proper size and length and scribe if necessary.
      3. Glue the joining edges.
      4. Secure the joint together using screws and a mending plate. You may need to drill holes for the screws. Apply some weight as you fasten the screws. You can also use two or three mending plates for a stronger joint.
  4. Join solid surfaces by cutting a joining strip and using sealant and screws. The sealant should be applied along the edge of the other countertop. Use a cloth to remove excess sealant as you butt the sections together.
  5. Secure the countertop. So now you have already cut the countertops to the right size and joined surfaces. The next thing to do is secure them in place by inserting screws through the countertop brackets. You can find these attached to the rails and units.
    1. While attaching the units, you will have to ask someone to apply weight to the back.
    2. Clamp along the front edge of the countertops to the cabinets and apply weight from above as you screw through the rail into the underside. Use mending brackets as you secure the back of the countertop.
  6. Finish the edges. If you have a laminated countertop, you have to cover the edges with laminate strips that are usually supplied by manufacturers. Some need contact adhesive while others need to be ironed on. Once they are dry, you can start trimming the edges using a utility knife.

 

Conclusion

Now that you know how to cut laminate countertops, there is no need to hire people to do it for you. You just have to have the right materials, protective pieces of equipment, and a clear understanding of the proper way to do it. In most do-it-yourself projects the key is in the details. You can make it look like it was done by a professional by making sure the measurements are correct, the surfaces are joined properly and securely, and the countertop has nice finished edges. Good luck!

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