16 Oct 2013
Formica laminate sheets are by far the most used and versatile countertop material found in homes today. Formica sheets allow the home builder, contractor or homeowner to create a completely custom fit countertop to cover any cabinets in one’s home, namely the kitchen and bathroom. However, laminate sheets are great for use in covering workbenches in businesses and home garages. Formica sheets are also more readily available in a wide variety of surface textures, colors and patterns as opposed to pre-made formica countertops that you may purchase from a retail hardware store such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Typical surface textures range from smooth and shiny to grain and matte finishes, with the ability to combine these textures with different patterns and colors, the end result for your home is almost unlimited and can be quite unique. Selecting the right look for your home is typically done with formica samplesthat can be brought home with you.
When working with Formica, typically homeowners install a prefabbed countertop as where a professional contractor is usually the one who will install formica sheets cut to size from scratch to your prepped and ready countertop substrate. Formica is not extremely hard to install on your own, however it does require special formica or laminate tools and some knowledge of the installation process. Depending on the size of your countertop surface area, installation from a professional is usually quick, clean, painless and relatively inexpensive.
Plastic laminate and formica sheets are not indestructible, however are extremely durable and versatile making them unlike most other materials that are used for similar purposes. Formica sheets can conform to almost any shape or size regardless of irregularity, angle or mounted position meaning that it can also be mounted vertically and even upside down. There are three general parts that make up the traditional countertop area that can be covered by formica, among other materials. These three parts include the actual countertop deck, the backsplash, and the countertop front edge or nose. In general, the edging will most likely match the countertop as where the backsplash does not necessarily have to match the countertop or the edging.
There are several typical ways in which Formica sheets are installed for backsplash applications. One of the most common and preferred ways for installation is that of a cove back splash. A code back splash occurs when the backsplash and the countertop itself are one continuous Formica laminate sheet. The formica sheet rolls from the flat deck of the countertop to the vertical position of the backsplash providing a seamless transition from countertop to backsplash. Coved backslashes can either rise from the countertop all the way to the bottom of the upper cabinets, which is usually 18 inches or they can simply rise as little as 4 to 6 inches. If you’re formica backsplash does not reach your upper cabinets and is only a few inches high, it is important to apply silicone caulking to provide a watertight seam to prevent mold and mildew from growing in your walls or behind your cabinets.
There are several different methods for choosing the front edging of your formica countertops. Depending on your home’s decor and your personal preference you can choose between a square edge which typically has a seam between the countertop deck and the edging. Or you can choose a seamless edging by going with a rolled edge. The rolled edge gives a waterfall effect or look, and is only a 1/4 circle. Then there is a full wrap that extends a half circle giving a solid look like that of granite or corian. Another option for Formica edging is using a wood edging. When choosing to go the route of wood edging, it is important that you use some kind of hardwood such as oak, maple, cherry or hickory woods. Hardwoods are more durable, and can withstand moisture and direct water better than softer woods such as pine or poplar.
When installing Formica sheets in your home, keep in mind that sheet sizes are limited. Thickness include a general grade that is 1/16 of an inch thick and then there is a 1/32 of an inch vertical grade that is typically used for backsplashes. If the depth or the run of your countertop is deeper or longer than the dimensions of the laminate sheets you are using, then there will be a seam in your countertop. Formica sheets come in widths of 3 foot, 4 foot and 5 foot and come and lengths of 8 foot, 10 foot and 12 foot. Typically you can mix and match these sizes meaning that the largest laminate sheet size available will be 5′ x 12′ and the smallest laminate sheets that are available will be 3′ x 8′. Use these dimensions to layout your countertops in a manner that will require the least amount of seams. You never want to have a seam close to where your sink will be located, as seems can eventually allow sitting water to penetrate the wood surface below your formica countertop, seams are also a place for dirt to collect.
Formica is very impact resistant, easy to maintain and can keep its good looks for many years with simple and proper care. It is a great choice for any home as an inexpensive, long-lasting countertop material. It is up to you to decide whether or not you can take on the task of installing Formica sheets from scratch or you should take the route of a preformed formica countertop. Preparation and attention to detail is key to make sure that your countertops are installed properly to ensure they last for many years.