Laminate furniture is an attractive and inexpensive alternative to traditional wood; however, unlike traditional wood, furniture made of laminate can peel relatively easily. If your smooth laminate finish is marred by peeling edges or bubbling in the center, repairing your furniture may be a means of returning it to its former glory. With some simple steps, you can entirely correct or at least reduce the visibility of pesky peeling.
Your best bet for returning your peeling laminate to its former glory is to catch the laminate early in the peeling process. If you notice the corner of your dresser or desk starting to peel, acting immediately can prevent the problem from becoming worse. Using superglue or epoxy glue, adhere the peeling portion to the particle board that rests under it. To ensure that you don't apply too much glue, squeeze a little glue onto a toothpick, carefully slip it under the peeling laminate and then press the laminate back into place, likely reattaching it to the base wood.
If your laminate is peeling around the edges and has also started to bubble up in the center of the piece, a heat gun may be the best weapon to use. Start the repair by putting on utility gloves to ensure you don't burn yourself. Aim a heat gun or hair dryer at the portion of the laminate that has started to bubble up. Heat the area, moving the heat source back and forth to prevent scorching. Press the bubbled section down firmly, using your gloved hand. Place a rag on the surface to protect it, and then pile some heavy bricks or other weighty objects to hold the section in place as it cools and readheres.
Remove the Finish
If your laminate bubbling is severe, you may not be able to repair the laminate. If your laminate is peeling from all sides or your previous attempts at fixing your laminate were not successful, remove the laminate that remains. For any laminate that won't peel off, sand it off with 220-grit sandpaper. Paint the newly bare surface to make it more aesthetically pleasing -- the particle board that rests under the laminate will likely not be attractive.
Preventing Future Peeling
If you don't want to have to tackle this problem in the future, there are some things you can do to prevent peeling. Laminate is most prone to peeling at the edges of a piece of furniture, so avoid brushing up against the edges. Also, just because your piece isn't real wood doesn't mean it's not subject to water damage. Use a coaster when setting cups or other liquid-containing items on your laminate furniture to prevent moisture from coming into contact with the surface.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.