How to Restore a Formica Countertop's Finish

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Make Formica countertops gleam with a gloss gel polish.
Make Formica countertops gleam with a gloss gel polish. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Formica is a favored laminate plastic lining for countertops among homebuilders and homeowners because it is easy to clean and available in an assortment of styles. While it is highly durable, use and abuse will diminish the original finish's once-gleaming luster. Following some basic cleaning and polishing techniques can go a long way in restoring the countertop's finish and hold off on the need to replace the Formica or add a new finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Rubbing alcohol or vinegar
  • Laminate repair filler
  • Putty knife
  • Contact cement
  • Paintbrush
  • Gloss gel polish
  • Cloths
  • Rotary buffer

Wash the countertop with dish soap and hot water with a sponge.

Wipe down all surfaces with a cloth containing rubbing alcohol or white vinegar to disinfect.

Repair where the Formica is peeling from an edge or corner. Brush the back of the raised laminate and wood substrate below with contact cement and press down the laminate.

Fill gouges and nicks with laminate repair filler. Laminate repair filler is available in an assortment of colors that will match your countertop. Scoop small amounts of the filler into the gouges and level the surface with a putty knife. Allow the filler to cure overnight.

Wipe an even and generous coat of gloss gel polish onto all surfaces with a lint-free cloth. Allow the polish to dry, leaving a haze.

Rub dried polish from the countertop using a rotary buffer to leave behind a shiny finish. Scoot the buffer's pad around the surface slowly, working in back-and-forth, rotating motions while applying medium to firm pressure. If you don't have a rotary buffer, this can be done by hand using a soft cloth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply gel polish periodically to maintain the finish.

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