Will Paint Thinner Ruin My Formica Countertops?

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Formica Group produces several types of high-pressure laminated countertops, with new Formica products on the market every few years. Formica is reducing chemical emissions from the laminate it produces as well as recycling samples and scrap materials. The adhesives used are water- or solvent-based and certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute. Formica suggests using a suitable solvent sparingly on its countertops. Some do-it-yourself groups suggest that paint thinner removes permanent marker ink.

Paint Thinner Ingredients

Paint thinner contains a chemical combination of acetone, turpentine, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, mineral spirits and toluene. In addition to being flammable, paint thinner chemicals can burn your respiratory system and may be absorbed through the skin. Toluene is a health hazard, and the Environmental Protection Agency warns of the risks. These aren’t products you want in your kitchen or on your Formica laminate countertops if other cleaners will do the job. Turn off all pilot lights in the vicinity and use proper ventilation if you have paint thinner or similar solvents in the area. Formica suggests other products to use on its laminate countertops.

Formica Use and Care

Formica warns against chemical damage on countertops. Acid, alkali and bleach can corrode, etch or permanently discolor the Formica laminate. Formica names some products that may cause chemical damage, including coffee pot cleaner, lime scale remover, oven cleaner, drain cleaner and even some countertop cleaners. If you accidentally spill a chemical on your Formica countertop, wipe the spill immediately and rinse the area with clear water. Remove adhesive on the countertop with a special contact adhesive solvent from Formica. This product may substitute for paint thinner as well. If you have water-based paint on your Formica laminate, use an ammonia-based cleaner. For oil-based paint, try the adhesive solvent. If you choose to use paint thinner, use it sparingly and rinse with clear water immediately so it doesn't separate the laminate from the base.

Formica Finishes

Formica laminate may be shiny or matte finish. If your Formica surface is shiny, don’t use any products that rough up or dull the finish, including scrubbing pads or cleansers. Apply a self-cleaning wax at regular intervals to protect the surface from spills and damage. If you spill on your countertop, wipe the spill immediately and rinse with clear water. Use special care if you spill liquid at any seams. Dry the area carefully so it doesn’t swell under the laminate.

Formica Stains and Solutions

Products with red dye stain Formica laminate. Mercurochrome, iodine and some red food colorings create stains that don’t remove easily. Tea and coffee, hair dyes and laundry bluing are difficult stains to remove from Formica. Formica recommends applying a baking soda and water paste to the area; however, don’t rub the paste, as baking soda is abrasive. Stains that may be permanent include cash register and food pricing ink, marking pens, indelible ink and wood stains. Formica recommends Fantastik All-Purpose Cleaner, Formula 409 or Pine-Sol Original to attempt removal of these stains. Try these products before attempting to use paint thinner on your Formica countertop.

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