Laminate Tops for Outdoor Exposures

Carefully balanced laminate tops can handle weather, says one craftsman. August 21, 2006

I am looking to do an outdoor bar/kit. The customer would like to have it in laminate. Has anyone had any experience with this? We live in N Idaho, so we have extreme weather conditions. The top would be under a gazebo, limiting the direct rainfall. I was thinking about hardy backer with my pressurized canister contact cement. All ideas are welcome.

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor D:
We install laminated casework and countertops on boats in Michigan without problems. Use regular particleboard and balance the laminate with a phenolic sheet on the underside. Expansion and contraction is the greatest problem. We use contact adhesive on curved panels and PVA on flat panels.

From the original questioner:
So the phenolic is on the underside of the part board? Did you laminate it there or did you order it that way? Did I understand you right? Also, exactly what PVA adhesive did you use? Why not contact cement? How much water were the tops actually exposed to? Same as direct rainfall from driving rain, and snow in the winter?

From contributor D:
We laminate the phenolic sheet to the underside with the same adhesive we're going to use for the top side. A balanced panel will expand and contract without warping. Distributors that supply laminate usually stock the phenolic sheets also.

We use Wilsonart 3000 for PVA adhesive. Contact cement works well most of the time, but it never "locks on" and the laminate can move on the substrate when temperatures change.

Boats receive different levels of care. Some are in heated storage in the winter, while others sit out in the weather. Most are at least covered in the winter. Exposure to rain is frequent.

The key is to be certain that your edges are sealed against moisture. We use an edgebander on most edges. If we lay a self-edge by hand, we spray contact cement heavily on the edge of the board to seal it. When we apply a wood, solid surface, or metal edge, we'll seal the substrate with silicone caulk first.