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We have always wanted to redo our countertops because we didn’t like the brown vibe, plus they never matched the backsplash we put in right when we moved into our house.
Before I get into the project that led us to this end result, I did want to mention that first we ordered a kit where you were suppose to basically sponge paint the countertops to look like marble and that was a FAIL. I actually would not recommend this type of update because it was very difficult to sponge the corner areas without smearing and looking horrible, so we ended up just painting the countertops solid grey, which was fine, but not what we wanted our end result to be.
So, my husband convinced me to let him do another DIY project, which I was skeptical about, but I think they turned out pretty good and it was done for right over $400 – and that includes the cost of the tools we needed.
Luke cut and placed this laminate on our counter tops and we are pretty happy with the clean end result. It looks much better than the brown so I am sharing the steps + some tips for the process. We aren’t super handy people, so if we can pull this project off, many people probably could. For our kitchen, we needed one of each size of the laminate. 5×12 and 4×8.
First and foremost, you want to sand the current countertops. We have this sheet sander and then we used good ole sand paper sheets for the small pieces near the wall. After sanding, you want to clean all the dust off.
Next you want to measure and cut laminate pieces. The pieces that have to go against the wall you want to be exact measurements, so make sure you are following the rule “measure twice, cut once.” The tool we used to cut was this jig saw.
TIP: make sure you have a large flat surface to cut on, if any laminate is hanging off where you are cutting, it is easy for the laminate to crack and chip. You can also use duct tape where you are going to cut with the jig saw and your edges won’t chip.
Then you will place the laminate piece where that is suppose to go on the counters – it is okay if there is laminate hanging off the counter because after you get it stuck down you will use the router to cut it more exact. (But not quite yet – keep reading)!
There will be some pieces the router can’t reach – like super close to the walls. For these strips of laminate, you will need to cut them exact. We honestly found that measuring and marking our cut and then using a very sharp pair of scissors or box cutter worked the best for those tiny strips.
TIP: Measure the pieces you are needing the laminate to cover, then mark on the back of the laminate with a sharpie to create your cutting template.
Then, you spray adhesive on both the counter and on the laminate piece and wait a few minutes (follow the instructions on your adhesive).
TIP: This cement adhesive is VERY sticky – you get one chance to stick it on the counter – so you want to be very careful.
Because of how careful you have to be with the adhesive – you will want to place these round dowel rods every 8 inches or so on your countertop to place your laminate piece on top of (these rods will be in between the laminate and the counter top). Once you have your laminate piece situated how it needs to be, you will pull the rods out and press the laminate down firmly.
Once you place the piece down you will let it dry before actually using the router. Use this roller to make sure there are not any bubbles and that the laminate is all the way down.
TIP: We used these clamps around the edges of the counters while the adhesive was drying. These clamps are also great for curved edges to ensure the laminate won’t pop off while it is drying.
After your laminate is in place, dry and does not have any bubbles, you will take the router and use it to cut exactly along the edges.
Luke says his biggest piece of advice is getting a good router.
TIP: Cut out a few pieces of laminate at a time. While the pieces are drying from the adhesive you will be able to go and cut a few more.
Next, you will take a file and file the edges to make them seamless and line up well to the piece that is right next to it. (This also helps make the edges smooth and not sharp). After you have filed, you then will use acetone to get any of the adhesive residue off that got on the top of the counters.
Lastly, we ended up caulking in a few areas to finish the look, like around the sink and on the edges where our cuts may not have been 100% perfect and we think it really helped the final look of it.
TIP: You will want to use painters tape around to cover the walls and pieces of counter that you aren’t currently sticking down to avoid the adhesive getting in unwanted places and to avoid scraping other areas with the tools.
Again, I wouldn’t say this was the easiest project ever and I was glad when it was over – but, if you are at least a mid level handy person, you can do this inexpensive upgrade!
One thing to keep in mind is that the laminate will add a little bit of thickness to your counter top so when we were pushing the oven back into place, for a second we were worried it wasn’t going to fit anymore. Thankfully it did, but just a heads up!
You will also want to remove your sink completely. We placed the laminate over the entire sink area, cut a rough hole and then used the router to form the entire hole for the sink to be placed in.
I wish we would have taken a few more progress pictures to explain, but happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments!