Installing a countertop is fairly easy. The struggle comes with joining two materials together, especially around the corners, which is necessary though in order to create a flat and continuous surface. If you want to achieve the best joints, you will have to use the right techniques on how to cut laminate countertops. In general, you should try to maintain factory-cut straight edges to the extent possible. Countertop materials with square edges on their sides are easier to put together especially if the front edge has a curved finish.
- What Types of Saw and Saw Blade to Cut Laminate Countertops Are Ideal?
- Cutting Laminate – the Basics
- How to Cut Laminate Countertops (6 steps)
What Types of Saw and Saw Blade to Cut Laminate Countertops Are Ideal?
The best saw to cut the material for a laminate countertop is probably a circular miter saw, thanks to their fast and precise cuts and their built-in support that holds the workpiece during the cutting.
You can also use a hand saw but a blade with a circular saw makes the job easier and quicker. Laminate cutters, on the other hand, are great for laminate used for floating floors but not for countertops: the material is usually too thick for those tools, so a saw – ideally a powered one – is the better choice for this type of job.
Saw Blades for Laminate
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. For cutting laminate countertops, using a fine blade with a lot of small teeth is ideal. This ensures fine and precise cuts while it prevents the material from splintering.
An 80 T blade for cutting laminate (check current price).
You can find more details about miter saws and the types of blades in our expert reviews. If you are not familiar with miter saws, you will probably find our step-by-step instructions useful.
Cutting Laminate – the Basics
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 or any other saw with the wrong blades 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. Make sure you use a proper saw blade. To be on the safe side, you should have tested the blade on a leftover piece of the same material to see whether it is working for the real thing.
How to Cut Laminate Countertops (6 steps)
Follow these 6 steps to get your laminate countertop cut. While doing so, you should be aware of the potential kickback of the workpiece: if the blade gets stuck to the laminate, it can be hurled in your direction. Make sure you do not use blunt or broken blades and, additionally, wear protective equipment like safety glasses when you begin cutting.
Tools and Equipment needed
To cut laminate countertops, you need:
- The laminate as your work piece, as well as
- a wooden block or slat,
- joining equipment,
- a miter saw, a jigsaw or another type of saw, with
- suitable saw blades, i.e. blades with many small teeth for fine and precise cuts, and
- a hand-held sander or grinder for small material removal (optional), as well as
- a pencil, a ruler and a knife.
A miter saw: the ideal tool for cutting laminate (check latest deals on Amazon).
Cutting Laminate Countertops Step by Step
1) Cut the Basic Form
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:
- When scribing the countertop, position the back edge touching the wall.
- Measure the gap between the wall and the countertop. Get the width and cut a small block of wood the same size.
- Create a guide for trimming by holding a pencil at one side of the woodblock and tracing to the other end along the wall.
- Cut along the line by using a miter saw or a jigsaw. If there are small pieces that need to be removed, you may use a sander or a plane.
- After trimming, reposition the countertop to check if it is the right fit.
2) Cut It to the Right Length
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.
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.
Use a straight edge metal ruler along the guideline and score down using a utility knife.
Make sure the countertop is secured and well supported on both sides. Use a panel saw and carefully saw through the scored line.
Remove all the masking tape and smooth the cut edges of the countertop using a plane.
3) Join Work Pieces Together (if needed)
Join two lengths if you want your countertop to turn a corner. Whether the profile of the material is rounded or square, both should be held tightly in position. You can use mending plates or biscuit joiner to create a strong joint.
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.
Unlike round-edged countertops, square-edged countertops can be neatly and easily joined together without using a countertop jig, following these steps:
- Fix the countertops in place. You can use a router to finish the front edge.
- Cut the countertop in the proper size and length and scribe if necessary.
- Glue the joining edges.
- 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 the Surfaces Together (if needed)
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) Fasten the Countertop
Fasten and 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.
- While attaching the units, you will have to ask someone to apply weight to the back.
- 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.
Video about Laminate Countertop Cutting
To get a picture of how it is done, watch this video:
Now that you have learned the steps of how to cut laminate countertops, you are probably able to do it yourself rather than getting a contractor. You only need to get the right materials, protective equipment, and a good understanding of the proper way to do it.
As for most do-it-yourself projects, the devil lies in the details. However, you can make it look like it was done by a professional by making correct and precise measurements, joining the surfaces properly and securely, as well as making sure that the countertop has well-finished edges. With this knowledge, patience and some attention to the details, you will be able to cut and install a laminate countertop yourself. Get your equipment now and start your project!
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