How To Cut A Formica Countertop That’s Already Installed

How To Cut A Formica Countertop That’s Already Installed?

Formica countertops are famous because they are sturdy and long-lasting. However, you happen to find yourself in a situation where you need to modify them and cut them even when they are already installed. 

You will primarily need a circular saw cut from an installed Formica countertop. It would be best if you use a rip fence to ensure accuracy. Cut the laminate with consistent speed and carefully. After cutting, file the metal edges with a metal file. Smooth the edges with a belt sander or sandpaper.

I assure if you follow the steps and tips below, you would have the confidence in cutting your Formica countertop after reading this article.

Formica Countertops

Formica is one of the most preferred materials for countertops. People use Formica because of its low-price, its water-proof features, and ease of use.  Formica is very versatile, and it can be purposed for a lot of uses.  It can be used in the kitchen or in other areas around the house.

Formica is a plastic laminate material that comes in different colors, different textures, and finishes.  

Homeowners choose Formica over other materials because they can choose different colors, textures, and finishes. The use of Formica also allows homeowners to customize the area with a laminate. It is also extremely durable, aesthetically-pleasing and easy to use.

There are, however, disadvantages in using Formica as a material for countertops. Laminated countertops, like Formica, are made from gluing sheets of paper and topping them with resin. The resin in the material is the primary reason why it is hard to cut and prone to chips.

Contractors, consequently, prefer to with granite and marble countertops because they are relatively easy to cut with the proper materials. Unlike Formica countertops, granite and marble countertops are not prone to chipping and breaking because they are made of solid stone. 

Cutting Formica is a challenge on its own but trimming an installed one is harder to cut and brings more possible issues. For instance, if you cut an installed Formica countertop and it chips or ruins the laminate, you might be forced to replace it or hire a professional to fix it for you. You would need the correct strategy to cut a Formica countertop properly.

Equipment Needed

To properly cut your installed Formica countertop, you would need the following equipment: circular saw, ruler, rip fence, sanding block, and a vacuum cleaner.

These pieces of equipment are relatively cheap and can be purchased at your local tool shop. You probably even own some of the equipment mentioned above. Make sure to complete all of them to cut the Formica countertop properly.

Use Sharp Blades

The accuracy and success of your current project will depend heavily on the sharpness of your blade. It might be economical to reuse old blades in cutting your countertop, but this is not a good idea. Old blades are usually dull, which makes them unsuitable for cutting laminate countertops. 

Dull blades also tend to destroy the resin. When the resin is ruined, filing and sanding them later would be difficult.

Buy a brand-new blade to make sure you are using sharp enough blades to get the job done. It would better to buy an extra blade, significantly if you cut a thicker Formica countertop. You might need to switch blades when issues occur on your fist blade. 

Using sharp blades, you’ll cut into the Formica countertop smooth and have a lower chance of chipping. New blades are worth it, and it would save you time.

How to Cut Installed Formica Countertops

After all, completing the materials, you need to identify how much of the Formica counter you need to cut. You need to measure it, and it’s a good idea to measure it more than once to ensure accuracy. 

If you are unsure about the amount you want to cut, you can add an inch to your measurements because having allowance is advised because you can never reattach the cut portion to the Formica countertop. It would be best to use a rip fence to make sure that you are cutting in a straight line.

You can start cutting the Formica countertop after measuring it. You need to adjust the depth of your circular saw blade down to 1/8 of an inch. The goal of your knife is to cut through the thickest portion of the Formica, not to cut the entire porting of the countertop. If you need to cut more than an inch off your counter, you can adjust the depth to ½ inch.

It is vital that you cut slow and steadily during the cutting process because if you are steady, the resin might chip. It’s okay if you don’t cut correctly, you can fix it later with a sander.

It would be best if you made passes more than once through the Formica countertop to ensure that you get a clean cut. You can either continue using your circular blade or swap it to a jigsaw for the next cuts after the initial one.

Carefully remove the portions cut from your countertop. Place them in an area where they would not hinder your work. Avoid throwing them because they might shatter.

When you are done cutting, smooth out the edges with a sanding block. Doing this will make your countertop well cut and unchipped. This will also correct issues which you had during cutting and will make your work look more professional.

When sanding the edges, avoid using strokes upward because it will remove the countertop’s resin. This can cause a lot of issues on the countertop’s surface. Sand the edges using downward strokes.  

When you are finished sanding the edges of the Formica countertop, there will be a lot of dust. It would help if you cleaned them because inhaling them might cause lung problems. A regular vacuum will not be strong enough to clean the dust debris thoroughly. You will need a stronger vacuum, like a Shop-Vac, to clean up all of the dust. After vacuuming the dust, dispose of the cut portion of the countertop properly.

Caution when Cutting Formica Countertop

What To Do When You Chipped Your Formica Countertop

Even when you followed the steps religiously and worked carefully, it’s not an assurance that cutting your Formica countertop successfully will be easy. You can only do so much to avoid chipping, but sometimes it does happen.

You avoid panicking when chipping happens. There is still a chance to salvage the situation and finish the job. Your salvation lies in your metal file and your sanding block. Metal files can be used to slice off the breaks, and sanding blocks can remove milder chippings. This would be enough to solve the problem.

Chips over three inches, however, might require a full resin repair. If the chips are significant, a repair will not suffice, and you will need to replace your Formica countertop. That’s why you need to consider a lot of things before doing this by yourself. It would help if you were completely confident that you can do this well enough to avoid chipping. 

This is also why you should consider asking someone with experience or a handyman to do this for you. Because even when the risk is small, things can still happen.

When to Hire

Hiring a professional is also an option when cutting your Formica countertop. There are several reasons why you should consider hiring a professional to get the job done. 

When you don’t have experience or you aren’t comfortable operating a saw, you may need the assistance of a professional. As mentioned earlier in this article, it is vital to have slow and steady pacing when cutting. If you are not confident that you can do this, you need to hire someone who can

Even when you have experience doing this, cutting Formica countertops can be challenging and difficult for you to do alone. If you need assistance and no one at home can help you, you might consider hiring someone to help you.

You might also want to watch someone do it first before you attempt it next time. You can ask a professional to help you with similar issues and observe them to learn. This will better equip you when you try to attempt cutting the Formica countertop yourself.

It’s better to hire a professional to do the job for you or teach you until you can do it yourself. 

Cost of Hiring a Professional

A local carpenter will be enough to teach you how to cut your Formica countertops. They wouldn’t charge you so much because it’s not a complicated job. You can also opt to have them do the job, which would cost you one more hour in labor fees. You can expect to pay between $75 to $200. It would probably cost more depending on the job and the person you hire.

Conclusion

Learning how to cut Formica might be overwhelming and scary but cutting an installed Formica countertop is a common issue among homeowners. There are many DIY solutions out there and tips that allow you to modify your Formica countertop instead of installing a new one. 

Formica is an excellent material for your kitchen countertops, but it can be complicated to cut them. If you are ready and willing to do the cutting on your own, make sure you use a high-quality and circular saw with a right rip fence to guide you. 

You would need to master using the materials to ensure success in cutting your Formica countertop. It is crucial to sharpen your blades or buy a new set before cutting because the blades need to be extremely sharp so it would cut the Formica easily.

It would help if you also were consistent in pressure and speed when cutting the Formica countertop to avoid chipping and ruining the resin. 

Once you are done cutting the Formica countertop, you need to file the resin to smooth it out.  You can do this by using a sanding block or a metal file. When filing the edges of the countertop, you must never use the upward stroke. Instead, you must use the downstroke to make avoid snagging the resin. 

You also need to clean the dust and other debris by using strong vacuum cleaners like Shop-Vac.

You can cut a Formica countertop that is already installed but it’s not something everyone can do. Cutting them requires someone with advanced cutting skills or someone accustomed to doing complicated DIY projects.

It’s better to seek professional help to cut your Formica countertop for you to be sure. You need to do this if the cuts you make aren’t going well or if you need help removing portions of the countertop which you can’t.