How to Reface Formica Cabinets

Refacing Formica cabinets is most easily done by adding a new fresh layer of Formica laminate over the old. This is an easy, cost-effective method of giving your kitchen a fresh look without doing a lot to the rest of the room. In some cases you will need to remove old Formica. The conditions that require old laminate removal include loose panels, warped or bubbled segments or areas that have too tight of a fit to add the one-sixteenth inch layer of new Formica.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Cement adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Jigsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Laminate sealer
  • Household degreaser
  • Utility knife
  • Towel
  • Glue solvent
  • Heat gun
  • Putty knife

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Remove all hardware from the cabinets. Lay doors on the ground or a sturdy workbench. Examine all laminate panels for damage, warping or bubbles. If any one panel needs to be removed, all panels need to be removed before refacing the cabinets.

To remove the Formica laminate, put on protective rubber gloves and goggles. Apply lacquer solvent to the seam and add heat with the heat gun. Insert the putty knife in the corner and push the Formica away from the cabinet substrate. Continue with solvent, heat and pressure until all the laminate is removed from the underlying wood.

Sand the surface. If you removed the original laminate, you will sand the surface well enough to remove residual adhesive. If the original laminate was left on, scuff the surface with sandpaper to create a rough area that the cement adhesive will stick to.

Spray a household degreaser on the surface and wipe it with a clean towel. This will remove any dust, grime and grease from the surface, preparing it for refacing.

Mix the contact cement with water according to the manufacturer's label. Use a trowel to apply a thin layer over the freshly prepped surface.

Position the new Formica face on the cement, squaring it to the corners. If you have not purchased pre-cut pieces of Formica, you will need to measure and cut the laminate with a jigsaw. Trim any excess Formica from the edges with a utility knife. Insert the knife along the edge of the cabinet and slowly pull it along the edge using the cabinet edge as your guide.

Sand the edge to create a flush surface with the underlying cabinet frame.

Spray a laminate sealer on the finished cabinets to create a moisture barrier. Re-install the cabinet doors.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store the new Formica in the same room that you are going to install it for at least 48 hours according to the Formica Corporation. This gives the laminate time to adjust to expansion/compression rates to minimize the probability of lifting or bubbling.
  • Contact the Formica Corporation Customer Support with any questions or concerns about your Formica laminate project: 513-786-3048

References

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