From our How To files: Instructions for Installing Your Laminate
Do it yourselfers building home bars have to deal with many obstacles along the way. One of which is repairing or installing new laminate on counter tops. So here are some things you should know:
Most laminate manufacturers have guidelines for installing their laminates and their web sites are a terrific resource. Suffice it to say, laminates can be attached with a variety of quality glues. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The laminate should be larger that the substrate. Excess will be removed after attachment. To make handling easier, a large sheet can be cut with laminate sheers or a saw equipped with a very sharp carbide tipped finishing blade as long as the laminate covers the substrate completely. Once attached and rolled, the excess laminate is removed with a router and a flush cutting laminate bit. There are small routers made just for this purpose, but any router will work.
Using wood glues:
Most of the 50’s countertops were attached with a quality wood glue. It certainly works. A disadvantage is that it takes time for wood glues to set up. Therefore, unless a uniform pressure is applied to the entire surface for the cure time, air pockets can form under the laminate. An advantage is that it is easy to reposition the laminate over the substrate so that it covers completely. It is not a one shot situation, like contact cements. Wood glues are used to re-glue a loose corner sometimes.
Using Contact Cements:
Contact cement is by far the most common way to attach laminates. Most contact cements are organic solvent based, and highly flammable as well as toxic. There are water based products that work very well and are much safer to use. When cured, both products are water resistant, and create a strong bond. Contact cement is applied to both surfaces and allowed to tack-dry. The two pieces are then mated, and the bond is immediate. You should not plan to move the laminate once contact is made.
To help position the laminate after the glue is applied to both surfaces and allowed to flash over, dowels can be spaced over the substrate so that the laminate can be set down without actually contacting the substrate. Be sure that the surface is covered entirely, and remove the dowels, starting at one end and progressing to the other end, smoothing the laminate as you go with your hand.
Using a laminate roller, air pockets can be removed by starting at the center and rolling towards the edge. Added pressure applied during rolling process increases the strength of the bond.