Countertop delamination

After five years, why is an HPL countertop delaminating? October 2, 2001

After 5 years, my HPL countertops are starting to delaminate due to either faulty contact cement or improper installation. Removing, cleaning and re-gluing is not practical. Is there an adhesive that would work on the accessible edges?

Forum Responses
Laminate that has been stuck for 5 years does not just start to delaminate. There are different types of glue you could use, but first you should find out why they are delaminating. I think you should get new countertops.

I agree. If you used contact cement and it held for five years, it shouldn't fail now. Is the substrate particleboard? If it's been pulling moisture, it could be separating. A stopgap measure would be to make sure the loosening edges are bone dry and superglue things back together. Hopefully it would work and superglue will last a long time.

Another thread here talks about Wilsonart adhesive problems. Sounds suspiciously like what you are describing. If this is a blue adhesive, I'd be willing to bet that you used Wilsonart Tri-Chlor Adhesive, and you really do have a problem.

It sounds like faulty contact cement. If the adhesive was formulated correctly, it will not begin to fail after 5-years. However, if the adhesive does not have the proper antioxidant package to protect the polymer from oxidative degradation, it will fall apart over time. The edges are the first areas to delaminate because they are exposed to oxygen and UV radiation (ie. sunlight). This oxidative degradation process is known as a radical reaction. The exposure to the atmosphere and UV radiation causes the formation of free radicals that begin to attack the adhesive bond. If not protected properly, as was the case with the Wilsonart "blue glue", the adhesive will simply be degraded and the laminate will pop. A reason for the long onset to delamination is if the tops are not subjected to direct sunlight.

As far as fixing the problem, the only proper way is to re-laminate the tops after removing the old laminate/glue or to buy new tops. You can't simply glue down the edges that pop because the radical reaction already has begun. Once you glue down the edge, the reaction will continue and lift the laminate inside the edges. If you purchased your countertops already laminated from an outside source, contact them because they might have been covered under the Wilsonart lawsuit. If so, they should replace your top if you still have proof of purchase.