Basics of Applying Laminate

A beginner gets the basic introductory explanation of how to apply laminate to a particleboard top. January 18, 2011

Im new to the laminating but really need to learn this craft. I have been reading a lot in this forum but have not seen or heard the basics. Can somebody give me a brief run through the step for a counter with back splash and wood front edge? What can I use for plywood and what is a good roller? Also, can you spray the glue on with the sheet leaning against the wall to save space?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor D:
When I do laminate I always use a high quality particle board (not underlayment). As for a roller any good hand roller is fine. Yes you can spray in the vertical position just lean it back a bit. To attach a wood edge clue and clamp, pocket screw and glue.

From contributor W:
All I can do is tell you how I have been doing this for many years. I've always found it better to lay the laminate over the seam between the wood edge and the substrate (high density particle board not usually found at the lumber yard).

First, I cut my particle board to size less the 3/4" for the wood front edge which I apply next. I like to straighten the 3/4" X 1 1/2" wood edging before it's applied thus keeping the top nice and flat. I then cut the wood edge to length and glue and bar clamp the wood to the particle board (no nails). Even trying hard to keep the top of the wood edge flush with the particle board it is important to belt sand the joint flush so it won't telegraph through the laminate after it's applied to the deck, which is next.

Now I cut the laminate 1/2" larger than the top all the way around. I've always wanted to spray my glue but never got around to it. I just use the least expensive short nap roller cover I can find because I'm just going to throw it away after each use.

The next step is the most important of all clean the substrate, the laminate sheet, the roller, your hands, and your clothes - you get the idea. There is nothing as frustrating as finding that something has worked its way under the laminate.

So, if you are going to use a roller just lay the laminate upside down on the substrate it's going on (remember it's 1/2" bigger than the top) and roll on the glue with a nice even coat, not too much overlap but 100% coverage. Now set the laminate aside, preferably on stickers that allow some airflow under it so it will dry quicker and do the same coating to the substrate.

After the glue is dry, lay down some stickers on the top (everybody has their favorite). Mine are just 1/2" x 1/2" pieces of sanded and clean pine) about every 6" to 8" apart down the length of the top. Now take the laminate and lay it on top of these stickers (remember it's 1/2" bigger than the top). Make sure the overhang is even and then lift and remove a couple/three of the stickers and press the laminate down evenly onto the substrate, lift, remove, and repeat all the way down the length of the top. Now you should use a laminate pressure roller to press the laminate down to the top being careful to not roll off the edges and cracking the laminate. Next, use a flush trimming bit and a small laminate router to trim off the excess (1/2") laminate. The bevel edge is most commonly used edge on wood (about 1/4" deep). Remember to stay clean here too so the router base doesn't mar the top. Now, cap your ends with laminate, sand, stain (optional), and finish the wood edge (mask off the laminate), deliver , install , and collect the money!