Asked on Apr 28, 2012

Any suggestions for installing laminate counter tops?

by Linda
I bought two 8 ft slabs of post form counter tops from Lowes. They would not do the installation without measuring for stove top/sink which I did not have at the time. I have contacted several cabinet/kitchen shops in town as well as handymen and nobody want the job. I am not considering installing them myself. What is the best way to cut laminate counter tops? What are the best tools? The part that scares me the most is cutting the 45 degree cuts to make the corner. The new countertops have a rolled backsplash and a rolled front edge. What makes the job so scary that the handymen/kitchen pros are backing away from the work?
Any suggestions are welcome.
Thank you
New counter tops
Old counter top 45 degree seam that scares me.
  19 answers
  • First, measure your actual corner. Do not assume that it is a 90 degree angle. Any variance will allow for your cut to be wrong. Once you measure your corner, divide it in half and that would be your actual angle. (in other words, if your corner is actually 90 degrees, your cut would be 45 degrees. If it is 92 degrees, your cut would be 46 degrees). You can buy a kit that will allow you to "clamp" your corners together. Assuming you are cutting with a circular saw, buy a blade that has the most teeth that your saw can accomidate. Usually a 60 tooth blade would work. Clamp something sturdy like a 4 foot level against the countertop with clamps, so that the circular saw fence will ride along that straight edge, which usually makes a much straighter cut. Place duct tape along the cut line that you are going to make. This will help to prevent any "chipping" that may occur. Use the longest level you have to measure/level your cabinets without countertops. If your cabinet doesn't have a very slight pitch towards the external side of kitchen, shim the countertop so that they do so. The reason for this is as water sits on the countertop, this (again I say VERY slight) pitch will allow water to run towards the floor, and not back against the wall/backsplash. Use a standard adhesive that can be placed on top of the bottom cabinet walls, and the countertop can sit on. Then, find some strategic places to place some wood screws through the bottom of the cabinets into the countertop. It is VERY important to not place a screw that is longer than the thickness of what you are screwing through and the depth of the countertop. The screws are nothing more than to put some resistance to the countertop to secure to the cabinets. The glue you use will do most of the work. If you place them at an angle, this will take more distance when you place them. Use a silicone based caulk when you caulk against the wall to deter breakdown from the water that will splash upon it.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Apr 28, 2012
    Great guideance from Straight Nails. I am not surprised at the locals avoiding the job. Ive never known an installer or custom shop to take on "post form" counter tops and do the miter joint themselves. Risk is high for a miter cut.. and the whether they can get a smooth joint w/o a bolting system. Ive never seen/heard of anyone but the counter top vendor make this cut. The miter cut is not only about the cut, but they bore holes in the bottom side for the use of clamps to pull the counter top together to hold the glue.. as it dries. You may want to ask your home center if you could bring the tops to the vendor to have them make the cuts for you. Installing would be much a bit easier thereafter.. or at the least, it would be easy to find an installer.
  • 3po3 3po3 on Apr 28, 2012
    Again, great tips from Straight Nails. The only slight change I would make is to suggest putting down masking tape along the edge. It will still prevent chipping but is easier to pull up without leaving any residue.
  • Debi M Debi M on Apr 28, 2012
    My hubby installed ours and he is not a carpenter, just a Mr. Fix It. Great advice on the tape to get a smooth cut. Hubby's rule is measure twice and cut once.
  • you must cut from the back side of the top when cutting. Also use a new highest tooth count carbide trim blade that will fit your saw. install a guide board with tiny screws fastened to the top to keep your saw exactly where you want it to be. You cannot follow a pencil line close enough to not have a gap when both sides come together. I have done several of these cuts before and they all turn out fine. The biggest trick is to be sure you are cutting the angle correctly . I would suggest that you take a 2 foot wide by half inch thick plywood section to mimic the top and place the plywood into the corner with one section overlapping the other. Then screw them to make your corner angle. Then from where the inside and outside corner meets draw a line from each and cut exactly from corner to corner. then take out the screws and place each panel onto the laminate slab and you now have your exact cut to transcribe onto the new slab. Move each template back the distance that your saw base requires, (typical saw bases are 2.5 inches away from side of blade) fasten each template and use its angle as the guide for the saw. You will get an exact angle cut that will perfectly match. Another method of making sure you get a tight match is to after cutting take a straight router blade set the counter at the proper angle with just enough space between each edge so only a 1/16th is removed from both sides at the same time. This will make the joint very tight. But if you follow the template method, use a new multi tooth blade for trim your cut will be very sharp and the joint will be as small as it can possibly become.
  • Linda Linda on Apr 29, 2012
    Thanks so much for all the suggestions. It sounds like precision measuring and cutting is the key to the best miter cut
  • Linda Linda on Apr 29, 2012
    @Straight Nails - excuse me for my ignorance, but what measurements would I use to determine the miter angle? What tool would I use to make this measurement? Thanks.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Apr 29, 2012
    This is one reason why I prefer to work in tile....large miters are avoided. and complex angles can still be used
    comment photo
  • Linda Linda on May 03, 2012
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I like the template idea and will try that out this weekend.
  • Linda, I have a device called The original miter angle that is a great tool to measure corners. I have different sizes to use depending on the size of the project. There is also a way to measure a distance down each wall, then measure between the two points to calculate the angle degree, but I cannot remember how to do that. Once I remember, I will send another note.
  • Linda Linda on May 04, 2012
    Thanks Straight Nails. I need all the help I can get :-)
  • Linda Linda on Dec 27, 2012
    A Christmas miracle happened. I was finally able to find a handyman and his apprentice to install my laminate counter tops. I am very happy with the results. I am now priming and painting the cabinet bodies and new doors/drawer fronts as the weather allows.
  • Linda Linda on Dec 27, 2012
    I tried to post photos of the finished counter top/sink and stove but I am unable to :-(
  • Too bad, we would love to see the finished product. Glad you found someone to assist you with this....
  • Linda Linda on Dec 30, 2012
    I emailed the tech help dept at Hometalk - maybe they can help me post the photos. Otherwise, I might start a new post with the results.
  • Linda Linda on Dec 31, 2012
    Lulu (help desk) was able to upload the photos for me. Check them out and let me know what you think about the installation.
  • Looks good... nice choice of faucet hardware...
  • Linda Linda on Jan 03, 2013
    Thanks. I am going with Satin Nickle on all the hardware. I am hoping to get the first coat of final paint on the cabinet doors this weekend.
  • Lola Lola on Mar 20, 2015
    Fantastic job!