While decorating your home, you must have come across the word ‘Formica.’ Formica is nothing but a high-end plastic laminate. Initially, it was founded as an alternative for insulators. The mica covered these insulators. Eventually, this led on to take the name “Formica.” The best quality of Formica has multiple layers. Ideally, it has seven layers or less. It makes one of the best furniture surfaces. But how to cut formica?
This is what gives Formica the grand touch, quite literally. The material itself is made of a mixture of many elements. Formica countertops make good living room tables or kitchen tops. Granite has always given Formica a fierce competition. Well produced and executed Formica can last for a long time. Granite can last forever if maintained. Formica itself doesn’t have a lifespan too bad. It easily lasts for ten to twenty years.
How To Cut Formica- Step By Step Guide
Cutting Formica possesses various challenges. No beginner will need Formica. Therefore we are assuming that you are well-versed with this laminate. As we said, there are many alternatives to cut Formica. This article will focus on general aspects of smooth Formica cutting.
Total Time: 45 Minutes
The blade: Regardless of what tool you use, your blade matters. Formica is very delicate as a material. Cutting Formica requires a skill. Yes, you read that right. If you are a beginner, do not start with Formica. Use more accessible materials to practice cutting. Come back to Formica after you have enough experience. Using a blunt blade will move the Formica sheet a lot. It will chip while you are cutting it. This causes the edges to be tough, ugly, and rugged.
If you have a circular saw or a utility saw at home, it should be good enough. You need a router to attach to your blade. This will give you grip while cutting. Jigsaws can easily give you a clean finish. But we live in a world where perfectionism matters. Therefore, opt for a router. If you think this is an extraordinary measure, and it is out of your budget, then skip it. This means you will have to take extra steps to produce an exceptional finish.
Every laminate comes with the threat of chipping. This is just like cutting plywood. There are various hacks to prevent chipping. The most useful method is to secure the laminate. This is like an outline. This is also called scoring. You place a thin sheet over the Formica sheet. The scoring will avoid unnecessary chipping. It involves making surface cuts over the Formica.
These cuts will provide a sketch for your main blade. Sometimes, if the scoring is not done correctly, it does more harm than good. Even with the sheet scored, the laminate may chip off. But this is inevitable. Laminates, by nature, are very delicate. It is very little you can do about that. Like we said above, Formica has around five to seven layers. There is already too much pressure on the motherboard. This makes it susceptible to chips.
The blade used to score the sheet too needs to be sharp. Otherwise, the whole step renders useless. For additional security, you can tape the design of the scoring lines. Masking tape serves the purpose.
The entire step 2 is a preventive measure before you start cutting. It is all about securing the laminate from chipping. Formica is expensive so do everything in your leap to avoid damaging it.
Once you have done step 2, recheck the score. If you are confident about the position of the material, place it on your Formica laminate. Keep adjusting the laminate in a way that is in line with the scoring and tapes. This alignment is essential.
Another way to secure it is to add a safety board over the laminate. This board is like a sacrificial element. Your entire desk now is like a sandwich. There are three layers: the scoring sheet with tapes, the laminate, and the board.
Lung protection: All the cutting will result in a lot of backlash of dirt. Make sure you are wearing a respiratory mask. The dust caused by Formica is highly toxic. Formica is an amalgamation of many layers and metals. Along with the mask, wear goggles to prevent any materials from flying off the surface.
Set it down. We will pick up from step 3. Once your three-layered material is ready, set the whole thing aside. Let it sit for at least an hour. This process of letting it sit is acclimation.
This is a standard process that is used even for cutting wood or tile. The logic is to let the material adjust to room temperature and humidity. If you cut it without letting it sit, it will expand or shrink. Similarly, after you cut the Formica, the rule is to let it sit out. It needs to get used to the environment before installation.
Attaching it to the substrate: You cannot merely use raw Formica as a kitchen top. It needs a buffer. This buffer is called a substrate. You can think of this as being light plywood. The fastest way to do this is to use cement as the glue.
You have to flatten the material and pour cement onto it. Make the whole mixture flat with any flat-headed spoon. There shouldn’t be any air bubbles. Let’s face it. We don’t have the patience to remove every air bubble. There is a better but lengthier method of doing this. You will have to cut a big piece of the laminate.
The piece has to be bigger than the substrate. Take an estimate and cut out a more significant part. Now you can pour the cement. Use contact cement. Pour the adhesive cement over the layer. This layer needs to be thin. It’s okay if this gets messy. Just make sure that you use a generous amount of cement. Once your entire sheet is covered with cement, you have to be patient.
Wait for it to semi-dry. After about an hour, touch the cement. If it is still slightly wet, you can paste the laminate on it. You have to be one thousand percent precise while doing this. Once you keep the laminate on the substrate, nothing humanly possible can separate it. It is sealed for life.
See, this is why we told you to cut a more significant piece of the laminate. In simpler words, cut a more substantial piece. Now, once you have attached the two, it is time to get rid of the air bubbles. The easiest way to do this is to roll something onto the sheets. Any heavy roller will do the task. Do not delay this step. Do it as soon as the laminate touches the substrate.
After removing the air bubbles, you can trim the extra laminate. Do this before the cement gets completely dried. Avoid using heavy power tools for this. A trim router will be just fine. If you do not have one, don’t worry.
All this was only to get the laminate ready for the cutting. Now comes the final step. Since we are using a jigsaw, you can use a high steel blade or a carbide blade to cut. The minimum required TPI (teeth per inch) is 20. Cutting will be effortless now. You have the scores, tape markings, and the glue that hold down the laminate. Make your cuts upwards and keep the saw straight at all times. Make sure you move the saw at the right place. Don’t be in haste. Formica is expensive, and you don’t want to waste all the effort.
Amendments: None of us is perfect. There are chances that you might have messed up a bit. It is a lengthy process. Incase your saw or laminate shifted during the operation, you can use sandpaper to fix this.
Things You Will Need
We have explained the steps in detail above. There are quite a few things you will need to cut off such delicate material.
- The tool: We have given examples of a circular saw, but you can use a utility knife too.
- The blade: You know the drill. Always pick the right blade. But here, a better tip would be to pick the sharpest blade. For the entire project, you are going to need very sharp blades.
- A workspace: As you have seen, the whole process can get very messy. It is best if you have a spare table to work on. It will be even better if you have a room to yourself.
- Cement: It is a crucial component for gluing the laminate. Any cement will do. It is commonly available and is affordable. We suggest that you use contact cement.
- Tape: It is for the acclimation step. Masking tape is best used for the process.
- Router: It is essential for the last few steps of the process.
- A spare blade: It is important to make minor changes or cuts. You don’t always need a full-blown saw to make small changes. In times like these, keep a spare blade at hand.
- Work goggles and gloves: The whole process of cementing and drilling can be messy. It is why you should wear safety measures. Blades used for cutting Formica have to be very sharp. They are no good otherwise.
1. Are Formica countertops worth the money?
If you are looking for a luxury, Instagram-worthy home, then yes. Formica countertops are super stylish. You get them in a great variety of colors as well. Their counterpart’s solid surfaces are more durable. But Formica has certain advantages too.
Maintaining Formica is easier. The spare parts are easily found. If Formica chips off, you can replace it if the damage is not too bad. If kept well, it can last for about 20 years. So yes, Formica countertops are worth the money.
2. Is Formica and laminate the same?
We should have probably made this clear at the start. Formica is a brand of laminates. It is a top-notch brand. Due to its fame, Formica in itself has become a term for tabletop laminates. Laminate is the material used for tabletops. The compression makes it off paper and melamine. Laminate is usually the first choice for interior design. It has a wide range of colors and surface patterns. So technically, Formica and laminate are the same. But there are other types of laminates as well.
3. Can I make my countertop with Formica?
We love your enthusiasm. But, we suggest that if you have never done something like this before, take help. You can design it if you like. But don’t take the risk of making it on your own. There are many issues with Formica. You are still working with metals, cement, and power tools.
We understand that it is quite tricky. If you are still individual, then we hope your project is a success. Make sure that you check every step twice along the way. Follow the steps and be patient. The final result will be worth the frustration and the mess. You can proudly tell your guests that you designed and executed your countertop!