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

How to cut Formica or laminate countertop that is already installed in your kitchen? It may seem an impossible task but believe me, it is one of the most common queries in the DIY world. Carefully installing a laminate countertop does not imply this is going to be there for eternity.

So, if you had thought that there is no way to cut a laminate countertop already installed in your kitchen, you must be delighted to know that it is possible. But the process will require all your DIY expertise.

To cut a Formica ledge, you will require a circular saw and a metal file, and sharp blades. It’s a smart thought to either hone them or purchase another set before you endeavor this. Painstakingly cut the cover, and afterward utilize a metal file to record the edges. You’ll likewise need to smooth the edges with a belt sander.

Why Is It Hard to Cut Formica Kitchen Countertops?

Why people shy away from doing so is due to the fear of getting the material chipped. The chipped area careful filling of the damaged part with laminate filler. The process can be unnerving for many DIYers.

For cutting a Formica countertop installed in the kitchen, you need power tools and extreme care and precision. The proper selection of tools and methods can help you evade the chipping problem. Instead, you can finish the job with fewer worries.

Suitable power tools for cutting the Formica countertop already installed

To cut the laminate countertop, you need a circular saw, a metal file, a ruler to mark the accurate measurements, a rip guard, a tape measure, carpenter’s Pencil. Additionally, to perfect your cutting with sanding techniques, you might want to go with a belt sander or a sanding block.

Now you know all the power tools and additional items for cutting the countertop, you need to ascertain complete care before embarking on the actual mission.  

Cut through the additional material of the laminate countertop carefully. Later you can file the edges with the metal fine. For extra finish and smooth edges, sanding is the best way to do so.

How to cut Formica countertop already installed, without chipping?

Though the exercise is a little overwhelming and needs extreme care, it is possible to do so with some power tools. For DIYers, the most preferred power tool is a circular saw. There is an additional need for a rip fence or a temporary guard to keep the laminate sheet in its place.

To avoid chipping, you can use the painter’s tape along the pencil line made to guide your cut. Make sure to select a thicker tape that will offer you more margin in lining up along your cut.

The next important thing is deciding on your circular saw blade. You might have seen people going with a regular 24 teeth blade.

But you will need more than that to achieve the required cutting quality. For better performance, go with a 60-tooth blade for extra fine cutting. The blade works by taking smaller chunks without chipping the material. This way, you can achieve a nice finish with your skill saw.

how to cut formica countertop

How to cut Formica countertop with circular saw? Step by step guide

The following section is about the step-by-step guide to take you through all the stages of making the most accurate cut without chipping.

Make the measurements

Before you start cutting, prepare the area and mark the cutting line. At this point, that painter’s tape will help you achieving a leeway for cutting.

Mark the measurement and mask the line with the tap to offer you the flexibility of making a cut. Besides, it also gives you room to avoid accidental chippings. Do not forget to use a rip fence to keep the laminate material in place while drawing a straight line.  

To be sure of your measurement, check with the larger square scale. You can use a smaller squaring scale to make smaller lines. Always keep some room(1/2 inch) while making measurements and make small cuttings later. 

Clamp a rip fence

You might need to clamp a rip fence on your countertop so the circular saws shoes move along it while you cut through the straight line. You can use C-clamps to keep the rip fence attached to the countertop.

Adjust the skill saw blade

Now is the time to adjust the depth of the circular saw blade. At this point, the goal is not to cut through the entire thickness of the laminate material. Instead, ensure that you cut through the thickest portion.

You can adjust the thickness at 1/8th of an inch. Increase the depth of ½ inch when cutting through more than an inch thickness of the material.

Cut to the length of the Formica countertop

The first step is to cut to the length of your countertop. This point requires patience and going slowly through the line. Hasty cutting can leave chipping or breakage at the edges.

Make sure to go along the line. But do not panic if you sway a little because you can always smooth out the edges with a belt sander.

To achieve extra precision and accuracy, you may want to make few additional passes through the countertop removed. You can either go with a skill saw or opt for a jigsaw. Remove the cut portion and keep it aside.

Sanding with a belt sander

The next step involves sanding with a belt sander. The purpose is to smooth out the edges and remove all the uneven boundaries. If you accidentally had any chipping, you can carefully work with this tool to get crisp edges.

Use only downward strokes to smooth out edges lest you may aggravate the resin off the material. This can cause severe harm to the exterior of the countertop, requiring the help of a professional.

Use the metal file

After you are through the sanding part, use the metal file to smooth the edges further nearer to the wall. This was all about how to cut Formica countertop with a circular saw. Now is the time to clean the mess created with the sawdust. Use the shop vac to clean the work area to make it ready for your next project.


FAQ’s

Can you cut the laminate countertop without chipping using a jigsaw?

If you intend to install a sink in the laminate countertop in the kitchen, you can also use a jigsaw to do so. The jigsaws come with various blades. Choosing the right blade is a prerequisite for making the proper cut when remodeling countertop. Go for a suitable blade to cut through laminate or particle board and make clean cuts.

Create support for the laminate countertop using a scrap piece of plywood. The length of the brace should be twice the size of your kitchen countertop.

Attaching this piece with a single screw in the middle will prevent the countertop from sagging as you cut. To ensure a cut as clean as possible, you can draw the pattern on the counter.

Start from the initial hole, drop the jigsaw blade inside, and start cutting along the line. Make sure to keep the machine steady to avoid any swaying or straying of the blade from the marked line.

What is the most suitable blade for cutting a laminate countertop?

If you are doing a DIY renovation project for your kitchen, you would never like to ruin it with a not-so-sharp blade. Instead, go with a fine-tooth carbide blade, whether you go with a jigsaw or a circular saw.

A dull blade can result in chipping and shredding the resins of the Formica. Saving some money might tempt you to use the old blade. But trust me, the later cost will more than your little savings. When you get refined results with a new blade, the cutting quality will manifest the actual worth.

It is better to keep new blades ready for replacement. After all, you cannot compromise the looks of your kitchen.

What causes the laminate countertops to chip?

Often, people use laminate and Formica interchangeably and as synonyms for each other. In reality, laminate is the material, while Formica is a brand that makes a laminate.

The material laminate is a sheet made up of compressed layers of paper bound with resins. The finish on top of the surface is due to the melamine coating that protects it and makes it water-resistant.

In case of careless cutting through particle wood material or laminate, the power tool can chip away chunks of the material bound with resin.

There are two combating strategies to prevent chipping: the right kind of blade and masking the cutting line with a painter’s tape. The right blade comes with more teeth whose sharp edges do not cut chunks of the material.

What are the safety precautions while cutting the laminate countertop?

You are often working as a home worker or a renovator in your house worship or patio. Therefore, taking necessary precautions becomes essential for your health and your family as well.

The tools used in this process are potentially dangerous tools and especially for novices. If you are not familiar with the tools, it is better to get comfortable with them first.

Second comes the use of protective equipment such as goggles and dust masks. Usually, the cutting process makes a lot of fine particles that might stay in the air for some time.

Besides, always make sure not to come in contact with the sharp edges of the blade while it is lying idly. If you have kids at home, ensure they stay away from the work area.

When is the best time to call a professional help?

A DIY enthusiast may want to take the matter into his own hands. However, cutting a countertop when it is already installed in the kitchen is tricky, so you can resort to calling a professional as well.

Many of you opt for the latter option for one or another reason. For instance:

You may ask for outside help when not sure about the task or operating a saw intimidates you. Secondly, you might need someone else to help you with the task but can’t find one

It is always better to call for help instead of becoming a Know-it-all when you are unsure about using any of the power tools.

What to do when your Formica laminate countertop encounter chipping?

You can always start by staying calm. A panicked mind can never make the right choice. Instead, there is a chance that you might further ruin your counter.

Finally, the combination of metal file and sanding block can help you overcome the situation.

A metal file is an appropriate tool for sloughing off hard breaks. To further even out the milder jags, resort to a sanding block.

These tools and techniques should be enough for mild damage. But if the chips are bigger in size, it is better to call a professional before making matters worse. A handyman can tackle the situation of repairing resin better than a DIYer in all cases.

How much does a professional worker cost for cutting an already installed countertop?

Hiring a professional may cause you some bucks. But the bright side is that you will be sure about the quality of the job. Typically, a handyman may charge you between $85-$200, depending on the project’s intricacy and demand.


Conclusion

 The Formica laminate countertops are an excellent selection for your kitchen. They are chic, water-resistant, and does not put a dent in your wallet,

It is possible to cut the Formica countertop. But there is always a risk involved in chipping and ruining the laminate sheet altogether. Another reason is the use of dangerous power tools that is not a beginners’ ball game.

Having said so, have a hang of these tools before taking up such projects. If you do not want to take help of a professional, use a high-quality circular saw. Later you can perfect your cutting with a metal file, a sanding block, or a belt sander.


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Amna Shaikh

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