Ordering Premade Laminate Countertops - Advise Please - Kitchen & Bath Remodeling - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
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Old 08-19-2015, 12:25 PM   #1
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ordering premade laminate countertops - advise please


I'm about to order premade countertops for the first time. In the previous 3 kitchen remodels that I have done, I was able to layout the cabinets so that I was able to get 5 x 10 sheet(s) of laminate and not have any seams on the top surface of the countertop. I made my own countertops using MDF as the substrate and applied the laminate. I am a little spooked about having a good looking seam if I were butt joint two pieces of laminate (doing the bond of the laminate to a substrate instead of buying premade). I want this to look good but at the end of the day this is for a future rental and cost (control) is a major factor.

The current kitchen countertop layout is a bit more than 5 feet wide. I am trying to decide between having the counter top premade as a single piece roughly 9 x 5-4 ft (I presume that there will need to be a laminate seam somewhere (hopefully under the sink?) or buying post formed countertop with a pair of 45 deg miter.

The corner with the potential miter joint appears square (using a carpenters square and a 4 & 6 ft alum straight edges. So when I go into the orange box (I also have blue and green boxes to choose from but I can get the competitive "Lowes" discount if I go to HD) to order my countertops what do I need to look out for? Is it customary to have the laminate preinstalled on the exposed ends (I will have 6 exposed ends)? I intend to use a Wilsonart laminate color/pattern that I have used in the past. Knowing that this will be a special laminate material run, is there any possibility of getting the laminate material drops along with the countertops? How would I go about asking for such? What else should I be asking about that I am not thinking of? I've looked at a number of home improvement websites on installing laminate countertops, I think I understand the joining of a mitered joint even though I have not done so to date.
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:16 AM   #2
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Just bumping my own message - looking for insight / things to watch out for / suggestions. If I placed the message in the wrong forum, please advise and I will repost in the appropriate forum. There are bound to be a few people still doing laminate counter tops. TIA
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Old 08-20-2015, 03:12 PM   #3
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For a rental I would choose the least expensive, reasonably good looking option I could find cause they never own cutting boards or vacuum cleaners. For a laminate counter you want the seam as far from the sink as you can get it.

I've cussed a bit but always managed to install the mitered corners even with wall that were not 100% square. If they have something in store that will work for your colors this is always the least expensive option. I only build them when I have to do so.

The butt joint you fear is not that terrible to do. Just use factory edge to factory edge as your cuts may be off a bit. Align the seam with the second piece at a about a 45 degree angle to the surface and lower it into place. Dry fit it all before applying the contact cement. I was really concerned about it, but pulled it off without a problem.

There is a counter top article somewhere on this site that may offer some help.

The one time I bought custom I used a local shop and they installed installed it.
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Old 08-20-2015, 09:40 PM   #4
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Colbyt gave great advice about keeping the joint away from the sink area, you would be reinstalling another top shortly with a joint where water can get to the substrate. Are you planning to make your own tops or are you ordering premade and you installing them. Colbyt also said it right about ordering solid color over designs like butcher block, solid color or granite color will be less waste.

If you do plan to make your own tops you can get up to a 5 X 12 foot sheet which will actually be 1 inch longer and 1 inch wider than stated measurement.

There are several ways to joint a sheet of HPL, you can use a good straight edge and use a router bit to get a good straight, smooth edge. You can get a seaming router which makes a perfect joint (but costs a lot). You can use a belt sander to make a good joint, and you can use an HPL file laid flat on the edge of the to make a good joint.

I personally like my ends to go on the same time as the edging, the reason being is the top HPL will over lap the ends like it does the front edging. An added end (after top is in place) can and more than likely will get pulled loose as there usually will be a very slight edge to hang.
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Old 08-21-2015, 03:16 AM   #5
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Both replys are full of good advice.I have made 100 laminate countertops or so in my day some commercial and some residential.
I think your post was leaning towards buying them.I would not go to the box store but find a local shop that does countertops and have them made .The big box store do not make countertops although they will order them for you from a supplier.Some come with endcaps.They carry certain ones with a nice preformed ogee and end caps and backsplash to match but it is limited.Your not going to get the laminate you want on these.Some offer free installation.This is built into the price.Is it really ever free?
Best thing to do is go to someone who does countertops or DIY.Seems form your post you have built a few.
I used to make most of mine on a 30 x120 mdf that was made for countertops.that way the rip would make the backsplash.Glue a solid wood edge on it to match the cabinets .Glue the laminate and then route the edge profile.Match the finish on the wood cabinets and it looked very nice and had a edge detail which matched the cabs and was very durable to boot.

Last edited by mako1; 08-21-2015 at 03:26 AM.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:46 PM   #6
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Thank you for all of the responses - I tried to respond on Friday morning but my message appears to have vanished instead of getting posted.

mako1
- I understand and agree about using solid wood edging - my first counter top build dates back to very early '90s with the last 21 years as a rental and the edging is still holding up well. I'll look into having a countertop store make them and take the big box store out of the middle. I did not realise that MDF was available in a 30 inch wide sheet - I was making do with a 4 x 8 MDF and adding a thicker piece of solid wood to the front (I bonded the laminate directly to the wall for a laminate surface from the countertop to the underside of the cabinets instead of a narrow backsplash).

BigJim - One of the primary reasons for buying ready made would be that exposed ends would be "factory installed" rather than me gluing them on if I bought premade post formed counter tops from a store. I have seen numerous ends that have come loose. This small kitchen has 6 exposed ends.

Colbyt - Thanks for the reminder to avoid a seam near the sink - I was thinking of hiding the seam, not on the effect of the seam near a wet area.

I was expecting to go and order countertops early next week. I found out on Thursday that the laminate pattern that I have used on the past several houses was discontinued a couple of years ago. So now I am off to order samples of several color/pattern options. I'm tempted to make my own countertops again, but am still concerned about the seam - looking at the kitchen today, the ideal seam would appear to be a 45 in the corner of the "L".

Again thanks for your insight - I've got a bit of thinking (and getting a quote) before I decide if I want to buy and install or build up my own countertop.
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