How to Install Laminate Formica for a Bathroom Vanity Countertop

Updated on September 30, 2017
wilderness profile image

Dan has been a homeowner for some 40 years and has nearly always done his own repair and improvement tasks. He is a licensed electrician.

Why Install a Formica Countertop?

While many homeowners cringe at the very thought of installing laminate formica it is actually an easy task to accomplish with a modicum of care and the proper tools while saving considerable money and producing a new look to your home.

My son recently purchased his first home with an small unfinished bathroom and asked for my help in producing a countertop for the vanity in that bathroom. Funds were very limited and he opted for making his own formica covered top rather than a preformed top including a sink.

Using little more than a small piece of ¾" plywood, some glue and a piece of formica purchased from a broken roll we were able to make a good looking countertop for less than $20.

Planning the Project

With the new vanity set into place in the bathroom careful measurements needed to be made for the size and shape of the new top. We found the walls to be very nearly square, but older homes with a vanity in a corner may not be that accommodating and might require a countertop to be made to fit the walls instead of a simple square of wood.

The overhang (how far the countertop sticks out past the vanity itself) was chosen to be 1" on both sides and the front with the back side of the vanity flush to the wall. We decided not to have any type of backsplash and that simplified the job somewhat, although a backsplash could have been made at the same time as a simple 4" high additional piece of plywood covered with formica.

With materials and plans in hand we headed for the workshop to do the actual work.

Installing the Laminate Formica

Using a circular saw with a fine tooth plywood blade we cut the countertop from the ¾" plywood to the exact size we needed and sanded the edges slightly to remove any saw burrs and excess glue from the factory. The plywood needs to be clean, with no sawdust or other foreign material; a dry rag served to wipe it down at it was set aside.

Formica can be cut by many methods and we used the same circular saw with the plywood blade. A Sabre saw will work nearly as well, as will a handsaw, and it can even be cut by scoring a line with a razor knife equipped with a formica blade and snapping it apart at the score as if it were sheetrock. Cuts with a circular or sabre saw need to be made from the back side as they cut on the upstroke and may chip the surface if cut from the top, while the handsaw and knife should be used from the top side. A good idea is to place a piece of masking tape along the desired cut line and cut through the tape and formica as it helps prevent chipping and may make the cut line easier to see.

The formica needs to be cut slight larger than the finished surface; we cut it ¼" larger than the plywood in both length and width - this results in an extra 1/8" of formica on all sides. The excess will be removed later, after it is glued down.

With the plywood and formica top both cut it is time to spread the glue. Contact adhesive is generally used, and we had purchased some intended for laminate. Glue was spread on both the plywood and the formica with a small paint brush and set aside to dry. Drying time varies with manufacturer, but is typically only a few minutes. It will feel dry to the touch with only the slightest "tacky" feel but not much more. Check the instructions on the glue for your exact time - excessive drying time will result in a poor bond.

Care must be taken when placing the formica onto the wood, as once the two touch it is difficult to impossible to move. With our small piece this was not a big problem, but larger pieces may need some help here. One method that works well is to cover the wood with pieces of waxed paper and then set the formica into place. By carefully lifting a small section at one end of the formica and bending it back some of the waxed paper may be withdrawn and that section of formica set back onto the glue where it will instantly adhere. Proceed to the other end and lift the entire remaining section so that more paper nearest the stuck end can be withdrawn and, repeating the process as many times as necessary, work all the paper out while gradually sticking down more and more of the formica. Remember that there needs to be extra formical protruding past the wood at all edges.

The formica needs to be rolled firmly onto the wood; we used a small hard rubber roller, but a paint roller or even a wooden kitchen rolling pin will work fine. Hand pressure is not recommended; sliding your hand over the surface while pressing hard onto the formica just might move it instead of simply pressing it down.

With the top piece of formica glued down, we set it aside and cut additional formica into strips to cover the edges of the plywood. These strips were cut to 1" wide and as long as necessary to cover the edges of the plywood. Note that this is again ¼" wider than necessary; the plywood is ¾" thick.

Trimming the Excess and Finishing the Edges

After a short 30 minute break to give the glue a little more time to set well, we trimmed the excess formica from the top. The preferred method here is with a router equipped with a special laminate cutting blade, but a simple file will also work. Router laminate bits are available that give either a straight or bevel cut; use the straight cut at this point. The router bit should have a bearing on it that removes the necessity for a guide and makes the work much easier; simply run the router slowly down the edge of plywood to cut off the excess formica. The finished product at this point should have the formica absolutely even with the edge of the plywood all the way around the countertop.

If a router is not available, a fairly fine file may be used although it will take a little more time and effort. Make sure the file is used only in the down direction; you don't want any chance at all of pulling the formica up and off the plywood or of chipping it.

With the top cut flush the edge pieces can now be glued on in the same manner. We did one piece at a time, making sure that it was flush with the bottom of the plywood, but protruding past the top and ends and then again trimming them flush with the router. A final trim with the beveled router bit purely for appearance sake and the countertop was ready to be cut for the sink.

Finished Formica Top

Source
Source

Installing the Sink

The sink purchased was a little oversized for the vanity and it proved difficult but not impossible to get it mounted correctly. Make sure that your own sink is the proper size and will fit easily into the vanity.

Using the template that came with the sink an outline was drawn on the back side of the countertop, not forgetting that the sink had to fit into the vanity as well as the countertop. Using a sabresaw the hole was cut into the countertop and the sink fitted and secured onto the countertop. Returning to the bathroom the completed countertop was attached to the vanity by screws passing up through the vanity from the inside of the cabinet and into the top. Make sure the screws aren't too long and pass completely through the top!

Congratulations: you have constructed and installed your own laminate formica bathroom countertop and it wasn't nearly as difficult as you thought. If this is among the first of your home improvement projects you may have just started a lifetime of such "work", ranging from fixing doors to installing new light fixtures to perhaps a complete room remodel. It can be a lot fun and certainly a source of pride to perform your own improvements - don't let a lack of confidence get in your way. With a few simple toolsyou can accomplish wonders around your home.

Personal observations: I would have made the countertop appear thicker than its ¾" by attaching a small, additional ¾" piece of plywood to the bottom of the plywood at the sides and front. This only needs to be perhaps ½" wide and as the plywood is 1" wider than the vanity it sits on would fit easily and make the top appear to be 1 1/2" think instead of the ¾" it actually is. I would also have provided a backsplash by using an additional piece of plywood as wide as the countertop and 4" tall, covered with formica. Just suggestions you might consider when you install your own countertop.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Dan Harmon

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Sara {House Bella} 

        5 years ago

        Thank you! I'm working on my kitchen countertops and this, along with other tutorials, has helped tremendously.

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        It's a great way to provide a small countertop for a bathroom vanity without spending a fortune.

      • profile image

        Cork Underlayment 

        7 years ago

        the idea of install a formica countertop is very good!!

        thank you for share!!

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Thank you. Your prices are about what I find in my own area as well. One of the nice things when you do it yourself is that you can customize the vanity top to your own needs. Plus, of course, is the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

      • whitton profile image

        whitton 

        7 years ago

        Nice Hub Wilderness! Formica counter-tops for a bathroom vanity is a great option. Formica counter-tops run about $7 to $20 per square foot, while granite counter-tops are about $70 to $100 per square foot. You can check prices and special offers from home improvement stores for the best deals. Thanks for your post!

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Thank you. I enjoy home improvement projects, and laminate formica is a good one to start with.

      • billrobinson profile image

        billrobinson 

        7 years ago from CA, USA

        It is a very interesting hub. Keep on posting more! Thank you.

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        8 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Thank you. Glad you found it of value.

        Thanks for the comment

      • Natural Remedy profile image

        Natural Remedy 

        8 years ago from Canada

        Good information Wilderness. Excellent hub.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)