Laminate has long been a popular countertop choice for kitchens and bathrooms, but it can wear over time and become discolored with stains or covered in scratches and dings. Applying an epoxy countertop coating over the laminate is cheaper than replacing the entire fixture and can make the dull laminate surfaces gleam fresh and new.
Weekend warriors have taken to epoxy countertops to change up a dated kitchen or revitalize a tired bathroom. Laminate epoxy is an affordable and relatively easy project to complete for a DIYer who has basic household repair skills.
The epoxy will harden within 20 to 30 minutes, so be prepared to work quickly.
Prepare the Laminate Surface
To ensure a polished and even surface, the laminate countertop needs to be prepped well. Use 80-grit sandpaper to remove the dull and scratched finish from the laminate surface. Use small circular motions until the sheen is completely gone from the entire countertop that will receive the epoxy.
Wash the countertop with a mix of 1 gallon of warm water and 1 tablespoon of a degreaser and cleaner, such as TSP. This will remove any leftover dirt and dust that resulted from sanding. Rinse well and allow to dry.
Before you begin to apply the epoxy, tape off backsplashes, sinks and other edges, and lay down plastic sheeting to protect the floors, cabinets and other areas that you don't want to be affected by the epoxy. Move any large appliances that butt up against the countertop before you begin. Countertop Epoxy recommends that you apply an adhesion primer that's labeled specifically for laminate with a sponge roller to ensure that you get a durable and even finish.
Choosing an Epoxy
Typically, epoxy comes in two parts, a resin and a hardener, and needs to be mixed. The manufacturer will have the correct measurements for that particular brand of laminate epoxy, so follow those directions well. Epoxy hardens quickly and can be messy but is clear, glossy and durable once the project is complete, so mix well and in small amounts.
There's a wide variety of countertop epoxy colors to choose from to spruce up your kitchen counters. From a basic beige to swirls of black and gray that look like granite to swaths of blue on a shimmering pearl background, there are many hues and patterns to apply to the laminate surface. Epoxy kits are available that will walk you through creating a stone, granite, marbled or jeweled façade on the kitchen and bathroom countertops.
Epoxy Countertop Installation
The first layer seals the laminate and is called flooding because the epoxy is poured onto the countertop and spread over the surface. Allow a window of 20 to 30 minutes to complete the first seal before the liquid epoxy begins to harden. Countertop Specialty suggests that you look for bubbles early on and use a blow dryer to get the bubbles to rise to the surface so they can be smoothed out.
Allow the epoxy to dry for a few hours before applying a second coat. Then, allow the second coat to dry, or cure, for 24 hours before using the countertop.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.