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Old 06-10-2006, 08:07 AM  
jfair
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Default Any tips for installing laminate counters?

We are finally removing old ugly tile and replacing with premade laminate counters. I'm curious about any tips or pitfalls to avoid as we got no info from the BIG store where we bought it. It's the standard rounded edge countertop, pre-mitred, with a built in backsplash. We have on L-shaped section with open ends and one other straight section with open ends, so we have room or error on the measurements. One sink hole to cut.

My specific questions are....

What type of saw/blade should we use to make the cuts? Should we cut from the laminate side or from the bottom for the cleanest cuts? What do we use at the mitred joint to seal it and ensure a good fit? Any other helpful tips?

Today is demo day and we'll be installing tomorrow. I appreciate any advice.

Thanks
Julie



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Old 06-10-2006, 09:39 AM  
Daryl in Nanoose
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[

My specific questions are....

What type of saw/blade should we use to make the cuts? Should we cut from the laminate side or from the bottom for the cleanest cuts? What do we use at the mitred joint to seal it and ensure a good fit? Any other helpful tips?

I use a heavy duty jig saw with a wide fine tooth blade and cut from the Laminate side. I mark the top with a pencil then score it, then I run wide masking tape so the base of the jig saw does not scratch the top and this also helps reduce tear out.
I have never put anything on the Miter joint because all you end up doing is creating a space in the joint.My joints have always been supper tight but I have seen some installers put a very thin coat of white glue that turns clear(with a small brush).
When using the template for the sink double check it is the right template by flipping the sink upside down and checking the cutout marks are inside the sink flange. Drill a hole in each corner of the cutout for the sink and cut the two sides first then carefully drive in two nails on each side into the waist part thats coming out. This will support the cutout part when your finished cutting.
When your finished cutting the countertop to length put the two sections togeather and dry fit. Most likely you will have to remove a little bit of material off the backsplash to get a good fit. This is done with a belt sander if you have one.
If you take your time and be very pateint it will all come togeather just fine but really take your time on the length cuts since they are open ends.
Good luck and keep us posted



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Old 06-10-2006, 09:49 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfair
standard rounded edge countertop, pre-mitred, with a built in backsplash. We have on L-shaped section with open ends and one other straight section with open ends, so we have room or error on the measurements. One sink hole to cut.

My specific questions are....

What type of saw/blade should we use to make the cuts?
Carbide tip circular saw blade, as high a tooth count as you can find.
Make your cut as clean and straight as possible, don't try to correct your cuts midway into the cut. Back up and line it up again. Turning the saw in the cut will burn the sides of the cut and may chip the laminate.


Quote:
Should we cut from the laminate side or from the bottom for the cleanest cuts?
Flip it over and cut from the back. The saw will be cutting through the laminate first that way. This minimizes chipping from the lift created by the saw during the cut. I apply masking tape over all of my cuts on the laminate side to further re-enforce the laminate and reduce chipping.

Quote:
What do we use at the mitred joint to seal it and ensure a good fit? Any other helpful tips?
There are sealers made especially for these joints. I use a high quality silicone caulking to seal the miters. Make sure you wipe off all of the excess that squeezes out onto the surface of the laminate before it sets. I know a guy who lets it set, then he scrapes it off with a razor scraper. I'm not brave enough to put a razor to a new laminate top!

Other useful tips?

Cut the sink opening with a jig-saw. If you have a 2" or larger holesaw, you can use that in the corners and flip it over and cut the straight lines with a circular saw.

Check the fit of the sink cut out template. Then check it again top and bottom. Make sure for certain that the rim will fit against the backsplash. Then check it again.

I'm an obsessed perfectionist. Check it again one more time, then cut.



One more, scribe the backsplash to fit the wall. Then you can get the fit against the wall close enough that you will not need to caulk any 1/2" gaps between the wall and the top of the backsplash.
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Old 06-10-2006, 10:04 AM  
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Wow! Daryl posted while I was still typing my reply.

They look very similar,, We must have done countertops before!!

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Old 06-11-2006, 09:53 AM  
Daryl in Nanoose
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Yah I have done quite a few over the years but I had not flipped them over to cut ( just a big chicken) but now that I have read your thread I will have to try this. I completely forgot that I also (the last time) used a forestner bit for the corner holes Don't you find a skill saw throws to much dust around the house, I also thought of this idea because you get a staighter cut but the dust factor stopped me from proceeding this way.
If possible I always try to pull the sink foward towards the front to allow for easy cleaning at the back but that depends on the sink and taps. My wife complains about some of the installs she has seen where there is hardly any room to get your hand in between the back splash and the taps. Well anyway at least I learned something today.

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Old 06-11-2006, 10:08 AM  
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I cut them outside on carpet padded sawhorses.

When remodeling an existing home, pack'em in, pack'em out,, about 35 times.

I love patio doors in the kitchen.

New construction is dusty anyway, so I'll cut them inside when I can.

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Old 06-11-2006, 07:54 PM  
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Default Dont forget...

I use a router with a jig for cutouts or straitedge for seam cuts.Another option is a down cutting jigsaw blade with tape on the bed of the jigsaw. The downcut blade does not chip out the laminate.

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Old 06-11-2006, 09:26 PM  
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Hey Brian, how do you cut a counter with a backsplash, with a router?
You got a wrap around straight edge?

Dad had a cabinet shop when I was in school. There was a 15" circular saw on rails that we used to cut tops. We cut our miters and end cuts with it.
It was somewhat like a radial arm saw that only made square cuts. We had to adjust the tops under the saw to the angle we wanted to cut.

It was a fun tool. I wish I had one now.

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Old 06-12-2006, 05:56 AM  
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Default Well....

I used the router if I had to...
First I would drill the corners of the cutout on the laminate side.
Flip it over and use the jig from the backside. I tried the plung router once from the back, on a scrap piece, and it worked fine. I just don't trust it on a new top.

I mostly used the down cut jig saw for any cuts, less dust and no chips. Just takes longer on the front and back due to all the counter build up.(thickness and staples)

Can't use a router and straight edge on a post form top...remember I worked as the shop rat for 4 years doing custom cabinets and tops, I stayed away from big box post form but on occasion...I used a hand saw and beltsander.

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Old 06-12-2006, 11:50 AM  
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Ah, you're talking about cutting the laminate with a router. Right?

I have cut laminate sheets with routers and tablesaws, I've cut sink cutouts from the back with a router, but like you said, slow. And of course I've trimmed edges and made recesses for draw-tite miter bolts with a router. Now though, draw-tite bolts use a round hole and they are best cut with a forstner bit.

Many carpenters try cabinet making sometime or another. I like doing both, but building gives me more variety, and to me, is far less boring. Cutting doors for cabinets all day, every day, does not appeal to me. Sanding and sanding my brains out doesn't appeal to me any day!



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