Laminates are secured to countertop plywood and particleboard base materials by contact cement, which is an adhesive that's sensitive to heat. That means bubbling can occur when you leave something hot on the counter for long enough to soften the adhesive and cause it to lose its grip. You can re-glue a burn bubble on a countertop. If the hot object also left a burn mark, there are strategies for fixing that too.
Bubbling can also occur without heat. Perhaps the installer failed to use enough glue or didn't press the laminate properly. These bubbles are a little easier to fix because they don't involve stain removal, and the procedure doesn't involve skill as much as it does a good eye and a careful hand.
Laminate Countertop Bubble Repair
Whether or not the bubble was caused by heat, you'll need to apply heat to soften the laminate material so you can press it back into place. You can use a hair dryer or heat gun for this, and you can also use a clothes iron in conjunction with a towel to protect the laminate from overheating. Just don't use an open flame, such as a torch, unless you like the look and smell of charred plastic and wood.
- Apply heat to the bubble to raise its temperature to around 140 or 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make a small incision in the middle of the bubble with a sharp utility knife.
- Separate the two halves of the incision wide enough for you to insert a small nail or toothpick, on which you've applied a generous amount of polyurethane glue. Spread the glue on the underside of the laminate on both sides of the incision. You can also inject the glue with a syringe if you prefer.
- Press down on the bubble to flatten it, then wipe away excess glue with a rag.
- Put a piece of waxed paper on the bubble, place a piece of wood on top and put a heavy weight on the wood to hold the laminate flat while the glue sets.
Sometimes, you don't even need to apply glue because the existing contact cement will re-activate when you apply heat. If the bubble is fairly small, try simply pressing it down after you've heated it. If it stays down momentarily, there may be enough glue to hold it, so put a weight on it and leave it for several hours.
Laminate Countertop Burn Repair
If the bubble is accompanied by a burn mark, you can usually rub out the mark with a mild abrasive, such as white toothpaste or baking powder. Don't use scouring powder, scouring pads or anything that could damage the laminate surface.
- Wash the area around the bubble with dish detergent and water to remove surface discoloration.
- Cover the burn mark with toothpaste or baking soda and let it sit for a while.
- Scrub out the discoloration with a kitchen scrubby or a toothbrush. Repeat the procedure if any discoloration remains.
Repairing Burn Holes
If you have a small burn hole on a countertop, you can usually patch it with laminate repair paste, as suggested by How Stuff Works. It's available in colors that match most laminate patterns. Clean the area with an ammonia solution to remove grime, let it dry and apply the paste according to the directions on the container.
Repair paste won't look good if you use it on a hole larger than about 1/2 inch in diameter. For this, your best bet is to cover the hole with a cutting board or perhaps you could glue ceramic tiles to the countertop to act as a holder for hot objects.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.