How to Fix a Laminate Countertop in Under 3 Hours

Easy does it when it comes to laminate

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated June 28, 2022
Son helping father cooking a meal
Photo: Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images
Difficulty

Simple

Flex your DIY muscles.

Time to complete

3 hours

Cost

$50–$100

Put your money toward future projects.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Baking soda
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Utility knife
  • Iron
  • Paintbrush (optional)

SUPPLIES

  • Laminate countertop repair kit or laminate fill
  • Laminate glue
  • Matching replacement laminate countertop (for damaged edges)
  • Latex paint (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)

Due to their variety of colors and patterns, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation, laminate countertops are one of the most popular options for homeowners. True to form, they’re also pretty affordable and straightforward to repair when they get damaged.

Whether your countertops have become an eyesore due to stains or there’s actual damage that needs to be fixed, most DIYers can tackle the project in just a couple of hours. Learn how in this step-by-step guide.

  1. Remove Stains and Grime

    Man using towel to clean kitchen countertop
    Photo: Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images

    Lifting stains and other eyesores off your existing laminate is a great way to revitalize your kitchen or bathroom countertops. Fortunately, one of the benefits of installing laminate countertops is they’ll be easy to clean.

    A simple but effective cleaning solution you can use is to mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. You want it to form a thick paste you can apply to the stained or discolored area. 

    Allow it to sit on each stain for about 10 minutes, then wipe off the excess with a sponge or cloth. Laminate countertops can be damaged from hard scrubbing or brushing, so be gentle.

  2. Use a Laminate Fill or Seal to Fix Cracks

    Scratched or chipped laminate countertops are pretty standard issues homeowners can experience. Fortunately, they’re relatively simple to repair. Homeowners have a choice: You can either buy a single tube of laminate filling solution (around $7 to $10) or a laminate or Formica repair kit (around $15 to $20). Both are available online and at home improvement stores.

    The laminate repair kit will contain an application tool and around four different putties so you can mix and match the colors you need to fill. The directions on the package will explain how to do this. We recommend the kit if you have extensive designs that might look strange with an errant seal color.

    If you know which brand of laminate countertop you have, it may be worth looking for a repair kit or putty/laminate paste made by the same company.

  3. Clean Under Any Loose Laminate, Then Reseal

    Many of us take the rigors our countertops face for granted. From knife cuts to hot objects being placed regularly on the surface, they truly do an excellent job of holding up to most stressors.

    Sometimes, though, laminate can become loose, swollen, or warped in areas of high stress or use. If you put a hot pan down for too long in one place, for example, it could leave burns or even lift the material, leaving behind an unsightly bubble.

    Laminate is secured to the plywood using contact cement or similar heat-sensitive adhesives. To fix this issue, carefully clean underneath the bubble to ensure no debris or air is trapped in the space. Make a small incision with your utility knife to let the air out, then use your iron to seal it back down.

  4. Repair Damaged Laminate Countertop Edging

    The edges of laminate countertops can come undone from time to time as well. There are different tiers regarding the extent of repair you may need to do.

    The first is the simplest: All you need to do is gently lift the laminate edge, then place a line of fresh laminate glue along the border. Press the laminate down to seal and let it dry. If it requires heat to activate, you may need to use your iron again.

    But if the edging is seriously damaged and needs to be replaced, you’ll need to:

    • Use your utility knife to score the damaged area that’s being fixed.

    • Use an iron to warm up the laminate so you can remove it.

    • Remove the piece of laminate.

    • Put your replacement piece of laminate over the top to cover (some pieces come with glue or adhesive on the bottom already, while others may need it applied).

    • Iron it on to seal.

  5. Consider Painting Your Laminate Countertops

    Woman in a room painting furniture with a brush
    Photo: FreshSplash / E+ / Getty Images

    Now that the hard work is done, consider giving your existing countertops an additional makeover. Laminate is relatively easy to paint over, which can provide a new life to your home’s kitchen or bathroom.

    We recommend latex paint. One or two coats may be required, with adequate drying time in between. Assess after the first coat to see if a second is necessary. Sand down areas with scratches or dings that are noticeably deep to help create a smooth, glossy look once painted.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Suppose the damage you noticed is largely underneath the countertops, such as the plywood or baseboards holding your laminate down. In that case, you may want to consider hiring a local countertop installation specialist. The same may be true if you need to install entirely new laminate, as there are several steps to take for installing countertops.

Similarly, suppose large areas of your laminate countertop need to be repaired or you’re considering remodeling the space and need to cut new laminate squares to match. In either of these cases, this can be a bit more labor-intensive.

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