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?
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.
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
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
The fine folks at CounterSeal have this whole game down. Give them a
look. They have ways of undermounting sinks ....under laminate.
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)
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
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>
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.
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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