Countertops 101: How to Cut Formica

Thanks to its waterproof properties, affordable cost and relative ease of installation, Formica has been one of the most popular countertop materials for over a century. If this is your first time learning how to cut Formica, it’s easy to be a bit overwhelmed by the project.

Fortunately, we have all the tips you need so you can cut and install a beautiful Formica countertop in your kitchen or bathroom. By the time you’re finished with this guide, you should be feeling confident in your ability to tackle your next remodeling project.


What You’ll Need

Formica is thin and easy to cut with just a few tools. But, if you want your results to look professional, there are a few additional tools you’ll need to break out to get the job done right. Here’s what you’ll need:

Step I: Preparing the Formica

Before we cover how to cut Formica, we’ll need to prepare our Formica sheets for the job. Formica is typically sold in large 4x8 sheets that you’ll need to cut down to size for your job.

Use your tape measure to take measurements of the surface you’ll be covering with the Formica, and add ½” to each measurement. Roughly mark these measurements on the back side of your Formica sheet.

If you’re working with a surface that has curves, you can completely ignore them at this stage. Instead, just measure in a straight line to the end of the Formica sheet. Later, we’ll use a jigsaw to apply any necessary curves to the Formica.

Next, you’ll want to put down strips of painter’s tape along the area you’ll be cutting. The painter’s tape helps to drastically reduce or eliminate any chipping that may occur as you cut the Formica.

Once your sheet is taped off, use your framing square and pencil to mark where you’ll be cutting. Make sure that you’ve accounted for an extra ½” on each dimension.

Step II: Rough Cutting the Formica

With your sheet ready to be cut, bring it over to your table saw. You’ll want to make sure that the Formica is supported on every side, as this will help prevent chipping or cracking as you cut.

Before you begin cutting, put on a pair of work gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from any flying plastic shavings as you cut.

Now, turn on your table saw, and cut the Formica along the lines you’ve mapped out. When you’re done, you’ll have a slightly oversized Formica sheet that’s ready to be mounted to the surface.

Step III: Attaching the Formica

Remove the painter's tape from the Formica, and cover the back side of the Formica with contact cement per the instructions on the bottle of contact cement you’re using.

Now, carefully place the Formica sheet on top of the surface you’re covering, and allow the contact cement to dry, which will secure the new countertop to its surface. At this point, you should still have about ½” of overhang on every side of your countertop.

Step IV: Removing the Excess

With your countertop in place, it’s time to begin finishing the edges of the Formica.

Use a jigsaw with a laminate cutting blade (any high TPI blade will do the trick) to remove the excess Formica from the countertop, and to rough in any curves that your countertop may have.

Step V: Cleaning Up the Edge   

Next, we’ll create a nicely finished edge for our countertop to complete the edge.

A trim router with a laminate cutting bit is ideal for this situation. But, if you don’t have a router handy, there’s no reason to go out and get one. You can achieve the same results with some 100 grit sandpaper; it’ll just take a bit longer.

If you’re using a router, align the bearing against the surface of your countertop, and move the router along the edge of the Formica to trim it flush to the surface of the countertop.

If you’re using sandpaper, you’ll work your way around the edge of the Formica until the edge of the Formica is perfectly flush with the countertop. As you get closer to flush, you’ll want to take special care to make sure you aren’t also sanding away the finish from the surface beneath the Formica top.

Step VI: Finishing Touches

Carefully run your hand along the edge of the Formica top so you can identify any burrs or rough spots along the edge.

If you find any, use a small metal file to remove any burrs or sand down the rough spots. Once this step is finished, you can step back and marvel at your handiwork!

Final Word

Learning how to cut Formica may seem like a tall task at first. However, if you’re careful in your work, and you follow the tips we’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to cut and install a beautiful Formica countertop with ease.

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