Applying Wood Edging to a Laminate Panel

A movement-free joint, a flush surface, and a stable finish are the technical challenges. Are they surmountable? May 12, 2013

We are building a commercial job where the designer has specified using a 1/4" solid maple edge on laminate doors with a stain to match. What options might I use to attach the edge to the laminate board?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor F:
I personally don't think it's a good idea. To attach the 1/4" solid is easy enough. You want to glue it on with yellow glue then trim it flush afterward. Getting it perfectly flush to the laminate without scratching is the fun part. Then you'll need to apply a stain and topcoat to match. It could be easy enough depending on the laminate 'finish'. Stained wood usually changes color over time so in a couple years the edges will likely not match anymore and who's going to be blamed? Not to mention they will likely move enough that they won't stay flush over time either. I would explain the problems with trying to do what the designer wants, then if knowing the problems they want to go ahead and sign off on it anyway, at least youíre not responsible. 3mm PVC will be much easier, better looking, (well that's an opinion anyway), and less expensive to produce than the solid wood option.

From contributor Z:
1/4" thick solid maple will not move, especially if itís glued with yellow glue to a MDF substrate that is dimensionally stable. A RF gluer would be great for this application, but too expensive for a one shot deal. There are several planers (Hoffman and Virutex) that will do a perfect job of leveling the wood without damaging the laminate. It is time consuming, but not impossible. A clear UV finish will not change color.

From contributor F:
Hardwood to sheet seams done with yellow glue can and will move over time - I've seen it happen plenty of times. You get a nice perfect flush joint, spray the finish, and over time the seam where the two meet shows up under the finish. Heck, even on wider joints they open up at times. How many painted cabinet doors have you seen where the stile to rail joint is visible? Perfect is different for different guys. I have a Virutex lipping planer which I can get to within a whisker of perfectly flush with. If you try to get it dead on flush, you'll burn the laminate. If you leave it proud and file it, as you would laminate to laminate edging, it will be very tough to keep a square edge. There's no way I know of to get it dead flat so that it disappears without also hitting the laminate. Everything the lipping planer does gets quickly sanded flush afterward. At the end of the day maybe the job doesn't need to be as clean as I'm thinking but I can tell you I wouldn't try it, and don't see the need to go through a lot of extra trouble for a designer who probably just doesn't understand what he/she is really asking.