No-Fuss DIY Tips: How to Cut and Bend Formica® Laminate

How to Cut or Bend Formica® Laminate Without Chipping or Breaking

Homeowners and professionals love Formica Group’s broad range of laminate colours and styles. It’s also durable, easy to clean, low-cost, and most of all, Formica® laminate is quite easy to install.

However, the careful user will want to ensure that they are using the right tools and techniques to avoid cracking, breaking, or chipping the material. Here’s what you need to know.

Using the Right Techniques and Tools to Cut and Install Your Formica® Laminate Sheets

Step 1. Measure twice, cut once

Hand Cutting Board

The first thing you need to do before buying your Formica® high-pressure laminate sheets is to measure your installation surface with a tape measure. This way, you’ll know what sheet size you need and how many of them to buy.

Step 2. The right worktable

Place the first sheet on a worktable with the back on top. The surface of your worktable should be suitable for working with a saw, like plywood. Cement, on the other hand, is not a good surface for cutting a Formica® laminate sheet.

Use a pencil and drywall square to trace the shape to be cut (you can also use a ruler). We recommend starting from a corner. That way you’ll reduce the amount of cutting by using the already cut sides of the sheet.

To make cutting more manageable, you can stick masking tape along the cut and let the tape stick out along the sides of the Formica® laminate sheet, where the saw starts to cut. This will reduce the chance of error.

Step 3. The circular saw

 
Circular Saw

You will undoubtedly find several people online to tell you that Formica® laminate sheets can be cut with almost any tool, including a utility knife or a hand saw. But trust our experience: the circular saw is the tool that will give you, by far, the best results... and that will cause the least problems. 

Saw blades typically used for cutting double-sided composite panels can be used for cutting Formica® laminate sheets. We recommend a lower than average cutting speed for thicker sheets to avoid premature wear of your tools.

Electric saws cut in a top-to-bottom movement. We therefore recommend cutting from the back of the sheet (far from you) to the front (towards you), with the laminated side down, to avoid chipping the laminate. If you are installing your sheet as a countertop or on top of other furniture, leave the curves and the corners out. You want only to cut out the shape and leave the trimming for later.

Step 4. The installation and the jigsaw

Jigsaw

Take your Formica® laminate sheet and install it using glue or another adhesive.

For countertops and other furniture: Once your Formica® laminate sheet is installed, use a jigsaw with a fine blade (at least 20 teeth per inch) to finish the corners and curves, using the edges of the surface itself (e.g. the countertop) as a staple. This should be done with your sheet facing up and very slowly to avoid chipping.

Note that your jigsaw is a lot slower than a circular saw. You might burn through a good number of blades. 

Step 5. Sanding

Sander

With sandpaper, a flat metal file, or a belt sander with a grit of 100 (more or less), smooth the edges and clean off blurs. And voilà !

How to Bend Your Formica® Laminate Sheet Without Heat

90 Degree angle measurement

Step 1. You can’t bend any curve

If you want to bend your Formica® laminate sheet without heat, you must make sure the curve is wide enough. Any curve less than 23 cm or 9 inches in radius will likely crack.

Step 2. Cleaning and smoothing

Smooth out and clean the surface of the curve to remove any nails, screws, holes, and more. The vertical edge of the surface must be perfectly square with the top to avoid gaps, bubbles, or distortion.

You can also sand the back of the Formica® laminate sheet to make it more flexible. However, you need to use very fine sandpaper and go smoothly, as you only need to remove a thin layer.

Step 3. Installation

Apply adhesive to the Formica® laminate sheet following the manufacturer's instructions. Start installing your sheets on the straight surface, not on the curve itself. Be careful -- you won’t be able to reposition the sheet once it’s applied.

Once the first straight part is installed, you can use a tool like a J-roller to roll the sheet over the curve gently. (J-rollers are the best for this job. If you don’t have one on hand, think of buying one before starting your project.) 

Roll over the surface many times to remove any bubbles and gaps.

Step 4. Trimming

Please read the manufacturer instructions to know how long it will take for the glue to set. You can also use clamps to hold the sheet in place as the glue dries. Once the glue is dry, trim any excess portion and sand the edges gently to smooth them.
 
Note: You can also bend Formica® laminate sheets using heat. In this case, the adhesive used to stick the sheet to the surface is different. Also, you will need protective gloves and a heat gun or iron instead of the J-Roller. 

There you go. You can now use and enjoy your new Formica® surface!

FAQs on How to Install and Bend Laminate Sheets

Can I bend Formica® laminate sheets?

Yes! It is important to note that most bending (often called wrapping or postforming) is done professionally by fabricators or postformers. But, with the right tools and a bit of patience, you can learn how to bend your Formica® laminate sheet with or without heat.

Can I cut Formica® laminate using a utility knife?

You should not use a utility knife to cut your Formica® laminate sheet. We find that a circular saw and a jigsaw for fine-tuning do a much better job. In any case, make sure to follow the instructions and any security protocol to avoid chipping your sheet or hurting yourself. 

What tools will I need to install my Formica® laminate sheet and cut it?

Here is a list of the items you will want to buy before you start installing your laminate sheet:
Worktable (one that can sustain sawing)
Measure tape
Pencil
Drywall square
Masking tape
Circular saw
Glue or adhesive (see the manufacturer instructions)
Jigsaw
Sandpaper, flat metal file, or belt sanders
Protective equipment: safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection (if needed), dust mask, and something to keep your hair out of the way.

What tools will I need to bend my Formica® laminate sheet, with or without heat?

Here is a list of the items you will want to buy before you start installing your Formica® laminate sheet:
Worktable
Measure tape
Pencil
Ruler
Sandpaper
Glue or adhesive (see the manufacturer instructions)
J-roller (for bending without heat)
Protective gloves and a heat gun or an iron (for bending with heat)
Clamps (optional)
Protective equipment: safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection (if needed), dust mask, and something to keep your hair out of the way.

What can Formica® laminate be used for?

Formica® high-pressure laminate is an excellent choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops: it’s affordable, durable, easy to clean, and comes in many different styles and colours. It can also be used as wall panels to create unique interior designs and memorable home spaces.

You could also use it to build yourself a worktable, an office desk, a play table for your kids, or even to cover some items such as a lovely shelf, a bench, a bookcase, a chair, and more.

As an affordable and easy to maintain product, Formica® laminate is ideal for many of your DIY projects around the house.

 

You're using an unsupported browser and some features may not work properly. Please upgrade to a modern browser, such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari.