Repairing Scratches in Glossy Laminate

      From quick and simple to time-consuming and elaborate, here are ways to get a visible scratch "below the radar." September 26, 2006

Question
I have a customer who's asked me to fix a 3 foot long scratch on her gloss granite black laminate countertop. It's not deep, but it's exposed to slanted morning sun and the scratch is very visible. I tried Countertop Magic, but it did nothing. I'm not sure about rubbing it out, because of the slanted light situation - it just may show a lot of rub marks. Relaminating the top is not an option. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor A:
I think the customer is screwed on that one. I won't even do gloss tops due to the potential for callbacks from scratches. If the scratch can't be filled with Seamfill it's time to shut the shade or pull the top. Actually, there may be one thing that could be done. I have come across a few tops in my area where someone has rejuvenated a countertop with some sort of clear film finish like a WB poly or something. That could maybe be done.



From contributor B:
You might think I'm totally crazy, but I've used variations on this theme often with laminate damage. The trick is to get the defect "below the radar" as far as visibility goes. Countertop Magic is basically just a polish and, if anything, will make the scratch more evident. What you're seeing in the oblique light of that morning sun is the lighter sides of the scratch - the paper beneath the black gloss surface. If you can mask or hide these, the damage would be less noticeable. High gloss is the hardest to fix, but this might be worth a try: black magic marker. "Sharpie" laundry markers are permanent and come in ultra fine point sizes. Take one of these and draw along the scratch, filling it with the black. Don't worry about marking the adjacent laminate. After you're through clean lightly around your artwork with a cloth dampened with lacquer thinner - I say "lightly" because you don't want to clean the black out of the scratch, just off of the adjacent surface. You might also try other substances. Go to a paint store and ask for a squirt of black colorant, whatever you use.

The theory is the same - fill the scratch and then clean the surrounding area. I don't know how your customer will react, though. This is one of the bag of tricks that's better employed when nobody's watching. Caveat - test anything else first on an inconspicuous area to make absolutely sure you can clean it up, but for the most part you can get about anything off of laminate with the proper solvent



From contributor C:
Just out of curiosity why is relaminating not an option? Did you do the installation? Who put the scratch in the top?


From the original questioner:
Thanks for the replies, guys. Relaminating is not an option because they are post-formed and she's not willing to have them taken out and sent to a shop. I didn't do the installation. I'm a touch-up guy. Her husband's drinking buddy scratched it when he shoved a case of beer across the counter and she's mostly mad about seeing it every morning. I like the coloring in idea and that will likely make her happy to get it "below the radar".


From contributor D:
Itís been years since I had that problem. Our solution at the time was to take powdered pumice (or was it rottenstone - I forget which one) and rub it in one direction only. It dulls the shine (gloss) but we got rid of the scratch. We first tried it out on scrap pieces and showed the results to the homeowner asking for his approval before we tried it. We ended up having to rub the complete countertop to get the same effect all over. It took a few hours and still looked good. The customer was satisfied with the results from her boo boo. The gloss was changed to a pearl effect. It later hid other defects.


From contributor E:
Kampel makes a 946 clear gloss seam fil. If there is any depth to the scratch you may be able to use this to mask the problem. Otherwise, I would try a finishing compound for solid surface, like 3M Finishing Material and work on a scrap piece of laminate to see if it would buff out a scratch. If you think you can get an acceptable result by buffing, use the finishing material with a random orbit buffer and polish the scratch out just like removing a scratch from a truck. You could finish up with a paste wax. I have laminate tops around my table saw, outfeed and side tables, and I buff them with my 9" random orbit polisher and the scratches come up with paste wax and the 3M product.


From the original questioner:
Both those are good ideas that I'll keep in mind for the next time this problem crops up. I managed to color in the mark enough that she's happy for now, but I expect sometime down the road she'll be looking for a refresher touchup and I'll suggest polishing it out.
Thanks.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor M:
You need to be able to either sand out the entire scratch where the surface ends up level, without leaving a dip in he top, or you need to fill in the scratch with a 2 part filler that is either clear, colored, or colored first, and then clear filled depending on the surface.

Then a sanding and polishing process is used for leveling the filler and matching the sheen. I would suggest inquiring about "polyester repairs."



Comment from contributor H:
My recent job included a 12' by 4' wood wrapped countertop on a 6" radius on one side of the 12' edges.

After the first pass with a Milwaukee 2 hp router on a walnut wrapped Wilsonart laminate countertop to chamfer a 45 degree bevel, I noticed vibration scratches on the laminate top caused by a small nick in the faceplate of the router.

By using a double halogen work light I was able to see the 1/4" wide scratch down the whole length of the top, about 2 1/2" in from the edge. Even under just the fluorescent lights in the shop, the scratch was still clearly visible.

Using a combination of suggestions from others in this forum, I went to the local Farm and Fleet and bought a $20 electric car buffer/polisher and a couple of extra buffing pads. Using a bottle of Armour All car wax and the buffer, I was able to not only hide the scratch, but I believe remove it. It was not a deep gouge scratch, more of a vibration scratch caused from the router faceplate.

I had tried lacquer thinner, WD40. Formula 409, Aerosol furniture polish, paint thinner, Windex and even my own spit but nothing worked until the car wax and the electric buffer.



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