Laminate-Top Bubble Repair

Here's a grab bag of tricks for getting bubbled-up laminate to lay back down and stick. October 3, 2007

Did a front counter for a restaurant. Installed fine, no problems. Four months later (I went for pizza on Friday) they told me they had a bubble develop in the center of the front counter. Approximately 6-8" across. The dude I was talking to said he could work the bubble down with his fingers and it would re-stick for a little while and come back. When I looked at the counter I didn't see it. It was dark outside and he said you had to get the light right across the top to see it. How do I fix this? Seems like I remember someone telling me an iron under medium heat on top of a towel would reactivate the contact cement and re-adhere the top. Sound correct? This is the first time I've ever had a problem like this, but I'm sure it will happen again.

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
From contributor J:
Something very hot was put on the top to cause the bubble. To answer your question, yes, the iron and towel should do the trick. We would do it as you describe, then roll the area and then put a cold wet towel on the area to secure the bond. Works most of the time, as long as there is ample glue put on initially.

From contributor H:
Contributor J is right. Something hot or very warm was placed there. It will go back down with heat. It will not stay down if they keep putting hot things there.

From contributor K:
Did you say it was by a window? If so, sunlight on one spot will bubble the laminate. Go by during the day and see.

From contributor X:
Air pockets (bubbles) in countertops can be caused by various happenings. They could be caused by lack of adhesive, moisture, sunlight exposure, hot objects applied to them and poor application methods. In the past my remedies have varied because one method may work one time and not the next. It all depends on the consumer as to what I'll try.

First I'll try the hot iron and towel method. Next, I'll drill a small hole from the underside of the countertop to relieve the air pressure that is in the air bubble. Then taking a vacuum cleaner and its hose, I apply vacuum to the hole and still try the hot iron and towel method. I'm very careful not to penetrate the laminate when drilling the hole and clean out the small particle left.

If the adhesive is dried out, I go to the next stage, which is to insert adhesive into the small hole and place weights to the laminate at the bubble, or try the iron and towel method once again. Common sense rules here. I have even drilled a very small hole in the laminate and with a syringe needle inserted adhesive into the bubble. When completed I used seam fill in the tiny hole. Depending on the laminate and its grain, I've cut out the bubble and inserted new laminate in its place. This has been rare, though. I have inserted stainless steel into cutouts more, though before there was even a bubble.

It really depends on who made the product and its quality of workmanship. Readymade preformed tops are where I get my problems - their adhesive is not the greatest. My hand made tops have plenty of adhesive applied and do a better job of surviving harsh treatment. If this is warranty work, I'd go through the above steps. If not, I'd sell the consumer a new top first.