How to Remove Lamination From Kitchen Cabinets

Laminated wood veneer has been used for years as cabinet facing. Veneer retains the natural beauty of solid wood, while making the structure of cabinets more cost-effective. Today's plastic laminates can match any wood, stone or tile, and are widely used in home construction. Upgrading an older kitchen by adding new wood or plastic laminate requires the removal of existing lamination to prepare the frames for a new finish to be applied.

Step 1

Apply heat to upper edge of the laminate piece being detached using an electric heat gun. Using a back and forth sweeping motion, heat a horizontal band about three inches wide across the laminate piece to soften the cement securing it to the cabinet panel.

Step 2

Continue to apply heat and insert the tip of a utility knife blade between the laminate and the cabinet's panel. Move the knife along the seam, pulling the laminate piece outward to detach it from the cabinet panel. Wood shims or a length of 1/4-inch dowel can be inserted between the cabinet and laminate piece to keep them separated.

Step 3

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to gradually detach the laminate sheet, working in four-to-six inch horizontal sections. Heat larger areas of narrower laminate pieces (three inches wide or less) to remove the pieces quicker. You'll get a feel for how much heat it takes and how quickly the particular adhesive used responds to the heat.