How to Cut Back a Laminate Countertop So I Can Install a Ceramic Backsplash

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Create room for a ceramic backsplash by removing the preformed backsplash on your countertop.
Create room for a ceramic backsplash by removing the preformed backsplash on your countertop. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Preformed laminate countertops come with a slight upward rising ridge in the rear; it's a few inches high to serve as a backsplash for your wall. If you'd prefer a ceramic backsplash instead, one that descends to the surface level of the laminate countertop, remove the laminate ridge to make room. Making the necessary cut isn't a difficult process, and it requires no previous carpentry experience. After the removal, you are able to place the ceramic backsplash nearly flush with the countertop, separated from the top of the laminate by only a thin joint.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 sawhorses
  • Preformed laminate countertop
  • Grease pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Heat resistant work gloves
  • Heat gun
  • Safety goggles
  • JIgsaw
  • Fine-tooth carbide blade
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Construction adhesive
  • Router
  • Laminate roller

Position a pair of sawhorses on a flat surface wide enough apart to sturdily support the laminate countertop. Set the countertop across the sawhorses, placing it so that the rear of the counter faces upward with the attached backsplash toward you.

Mark a cutting line along the rear of the countertop on the attached backsplash surface with a marker. Position the line so that it runs straight across the length of the counter at the level of the countertop surface. You want to make your cut so that you remove only the upturned portion of the backsplash, not the base, which could shorten the countertop.

Place a strip of masking tape over the cutting line, running the full length of the countertop. Turn the countertop over so that it faces upright.

Don a pair of work gloves that are rated for use with high temperatures. Turn a heat gun’s settings to low. Pass the heat gun over the backsplash of the counter to heat the glue holding the laminate to the counter core, weakening it. Direct the heat back and forth over the countertop, heating the surface evenly. Pull the heated laminate covering from the core of the backsplash section until you reach the base of the laminate backsplash plus an additional inch from the flat, laminated countertop surface. Turn off the heat gun. Flip the countertop back over to access the base.

Slip on a pair of safety goggles to wear while cutting the countertop. Attach a fine tooth blade to a jigsaw, and then use the saw to cut through the countertop along your drawn cutting line. Keep the saw going straight along the rear of the counter, removing the upturned section of the backsplash while leaving the laminate that covered the section untouched.

Remove the masking tape. Flip the countertop back face upward.

Sand the cut surface of the counter smooth and even with the uncut surface you revealed with the inch-long strip of removed laminate. Use medium grit sandpaper for smoothing out the surface, as you want to leave a bit of texture behind for the adhesive. Wipe with a tack cloth.

Apply a layer of construction adhesive to the countertop surface as well as to the unattached piece of laminate. Wait for the adhesive to lose its wet look after application. Press the laminate onto the countertop. Roll the laminate smooth with a laminate roller. This will also remove any air trapped beneath the strip. Some laminate covering will overhang the rear of the countertop.

Use a router to cut the laminate from the rear of the countertop, cutting it flush to the rear edge. You can install the cut countertop and then place the ceramic backsplash as normal, without the laminate backsplash interfering with the placement.

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