Repairing Bubbles in Laminate

Advice on re-adhering bubbled-up laminate to the substrate. January 8, 2010

I am doing a job that requires 21 sheets of laminate to make table tops. I've delivered all the tops. One of the tops has developed a bubble approximately 3' x 18", almost oval in shape. It's been in the location for about 2 months now and was pointed out to me yesterday. I don't know when the bubble first appeared.

Tops are Pionite standard grade, and substrate is MDF. Glue is Lanco contact cement. The tops were rolled out with a J roller. So far, only this one top has an issue.

The tables are being used as workbenches at the Navy base. Light use (survival gear packing), no heat source. Any idea how to fix it? I thought about drilling a couple of 1/16 holes and using an iron to see if I could get the top to stick. But I really don't expect this to work. It's just worth a try before replacing the section top.

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
From contributor J:
Heat the area with an iron. A damp towel between the iron and top can help prevent overheating/burning. Remove the iron/towel and j-roll the area like heck. On a spot that long, you may have to work it in 2 sections overlapping in the middle. If there was good glue coverage when you laid it up, this should take care of it.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. There was good coverage. I used a roller on the substrate and the laminate both. I apply to get 100% coverage.

From contributor L:

You may have to drill a tiny hole through the p-lam to let the air out. Pick a dark spot if it has any pattern, then fill with seam fill.

From contributor A:
Thanks for the suggestions. This is what I did. I used the iron to heat the bubble where it was closest to the edge and pulled up the lam at the edge so the air could come out. Then I heated the laminate starting from the edges and worked in to the center and out the edge. I heated an iron size section at a time. Once hot, I set a heavy weight on it. Left it for a couple of days. Seemed to work like a champ. Customer sees no lifting and it appears to be tight down to the substrate. I just wish I could figure out why it happened.

From contributor C:
A j roller only applies as much force as is applied to it. I finish out my tops with several well placed blows from a rubber mallet. The PSI is incredible and so far (knock on industrial particleboard), I haven't had a single de-lamination. If you get the bounce right it is like a blacksmith's hammer on his anvil. The re-bounce does most of the work.