Making Formica counter questions


I have an odd shaped kitchen counter that I need to replace. The problem with the existing counter is that it got wet in sink area and the particle board swelled up and is falling apart. I already have the formica, glue, tools, trimmer bit, etc. I'm wanting to replace this counter top and try to prevent this from happening again. Should I use MDF instead of Particleboard? Should I use a sealer or exterior paint on areas near the sink not covered by formica?
Thanks! Roger N.
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Get yourself to a library, or order up from the Taunton website, the copy of Fine Homebuilding this spring that detailed building such a countertop. With pictures and everything.
BTW, the solution is to stop the water. MDF will do the same as the particle board. But even if the substrate were impervious to the water, the damage will be done, if not there, then elsewhere. Mold, mildew and dry rot are nasty, expensive things. And they encourage insects.
Patriarch
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Well said. One thing that I do, and it seems to work well, is to treat all the exposed edges after the sink hole is cut and the tap holes are drilled, with silicon. I rub it into the end grain of the substrate and a few inches wide all around the bottom where I put it on nice and thick so it forms a ridge, in effect creating a drip-edge. I use the cheapest silicone I can find...but it needs to be real silicone..none of that paintable stuff.
When I build a custom laminate top, I always put a backer (balance) sheet all around the sink area. In commercial applications, I cut a piece of 1-1/4" PVC drain pipe the length of which is the same as the thickness of the counter top. I silicone that in place creating a sleeve. When building a custom laminate top, I install the sleeve first with epoxy, then belt-sand flush with the top before applying the laminate. Then drill and clean up with a bottom bearing flush bit.
Some of the things I do are over-kill, but I'm sure glad I don't get any call-backs.
The fine folks at CounterSeal have this whole game down. Give them a look. They have ways of undermounting sinks ....under laminate. http://www.counter-seal.com/sche.html
Plywood is NOT a good substrate for laminate. If there is going to be any lifting, the layer of laminate will just pull up the first layer of veneer. (I'm assuming the glue-up was done properly)
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What is this for, please?
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I'm surmising Rob does this to water seal the holes through which the water supply lines pass. Clever trick which I may use next time.
Patriarch
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I developed that while Wilsonart was promoting a 1/8" thick solid surface veneer. I found it works really well on laminate as well...sooo.. That's the reason I do it. If I were to install the taps, silicone would be sufficient, because I would take care putting the offset fitting through the hole.....plumbers, however, need the plastic to bang against..<G>
Besides, it's a great little marketing tool. It has a little story, I carry a little sample, costs very little, and nobody else bothers doing it... worth a quick $100.00 over the whole job..<G>
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MDF would be the worst thing to use. Plywood will be better than particle board, and marine ply even better, but probably not necessary. The key of course is a good seal between sink and formica.
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Roger N wrote:

When I was Cabinet making for a living we always used chippy for counter tops. Used lots of silicon sealer around the sink and along the back edge to prevent water by passing the laminate and getting to chippy. Now days I'd use HMR board. Like mdf but high moisture resistant. Another line of defence was to spray all the bare edges of the tops with contact cement as we were spraying the tops and laminate. (No Spray equipment ?? Just brush or scrape it on) Hope this helps you out a bit. Regards John
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Almost "any" wood will swell and fall apart given enough moisture.
Most modern counter tops are made from a particle board material. It is designed for counter tops. It is "NOT" the particle board you find at the typical home center. You need to find a cabinet maker supplier, which will carry the correct stuff.
You will also need a fair amount of experience in installing to get a sink installation correct. There should be NO water getting through or around your counter top or back splash.
There are MDF and plywood products you can use but they are harder to come by than typical counter top material. I would NOT use plywood for a counter top.
The sink and the back splash and any seam you have are the areas that you need to really focus on getting perfectly water proof.
Roger N wrote:

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