Compact laminate worktops, often called solid laminate, is increasingly popular in kitchen designs thanks to the increased durability compared to traditional laminate.
These superior worktops are created with layers of craft paper that have been saturated with resin in a polymerisation process. Unlike traditional laminate, there is no MDF base, as instead, there are extra layers of the impregnated craft paper.
You end up with a uniform, non-absorbant, heat and stain-resistant, wipeable product that has antibacterial properties.
The finished design is tough, making cutting a more complicated process. Specialist Tungsten Carbide Tipped (TCT) blades must be used to get a clean cut.
What tools do I need to cut a compact laminate worktop?
Choosing the right tools to cut the compact laminate is essential for ending up with a clean and well-finished worktop. Using the wrong cutting blades could lead to disaster as you may ruin your devices and your new worktop.
A hand-held plunge saw with a TCT triple chip blade is suitable for cutting compact laminate. An alternative might be a jigsaw with a selection of metal cutting blades.
You will also need a router for finishing. Avoid using a worktop jigsaw unless you can get a specialised compact laminate worktop jig to cut mitre joints.
As compact laminate worktops are so hard, it is crucial to use high-quality machinery with clean and sharpened cutters to give a professional finish. The right tools will also help you save time and energy.
It makes sense to check that the tool holder is clean and the blade is seated correctly to ensure that it will not oscillate while being used.
Worktops should be adequately supported and clamped during the cutting process. Remember that the wrong tools can also be dangerous.
Other tools: Measuring tape, scribing tool, sandpaper
Health and Safety when Cutting Compact Laminate Worktop
Some critical health and safety instructions should be followed when cutting any compact laminate worktop in addition to following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Always ensure you have adequate ventilation.
- Always wear a dust mask.
- Always wear ear defenders when operating machinery.
- Always wear protective glasses when cutting or sanding.
- Always secure your worktop to a workbench before cutting.
- Always use the correct tools and ensure they are clean and assembled correctly.
- Always keep children and pets away from your workspace.
How to cut compact laminate worktop?
Before starting to cut your compact laminate, it is essential to reassess all your measurements. Once you are confident about your measurements, you are ready to begin the cutting process.
Place your worktop on a secure surface and clamp it firmly in place before you begin any cutting.
Next, ensure that you have chosen the correct TCT blades and carried out safety checks to ensure they have been appropriately fitted into the plunge saw. You must follow a guide rail and do the cut in increments to complete a segment.
I recommend rechecking your measurements as you go along to prevent errors.
Your joint ends and completed ends will need to be skimmed using your hand router with a sharp blade. Leave 2-3mm in your measurements for that final skim to get the correct size.
Take time to assess the quality of the fit. You may need to redo the process if you spot any gaps or chips. To achieve an unobtrusive join, you will need to get a clean smooth and sharp edge.
Finally, it is essential to ensure the surfaces are clean before bonding joints together.
How to fit a compact laminate worktop against the wall?
To fit your worktop up to your kitchen wall, you will need to fill any gaps caused by the uneven surface of the wall. The job of trimming the worktop for this purpose is known as scribing.
First, you need to mark the required cutting line, preferably with a scribing tool, but you can use a pencil.
If the line is straight, you will use the plunge saw and TCT blade again. If you cannot achieve a straight cut, you can use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade.
After cutting, you will need to use 240 grit sandpaper to remove any damage that has occurred. You can then attempt a dry fit to check whether you need adjustments.
How to fit a compact laminate around under-mount sinks?
Compact laminate is a popular alternative to quartz for people who want an under-mount sink.
It is important to remember that you cannot screw into compact laminate worktops as this will cause the worktop to split. When installing an under-mount sink, you must use special mounting clips instead.
You will need to drill holes in the underside of the worktop after marking the exact positions. Use dowels in the holes, so the worktop fits flush against the sink, and then attach the clips with the bolts to the dowel and tighten.
You can buy complete kits that contain all the parts you need to secure your compact worktop to an under-mount sink.
How difficult is it to fit a compact laminate worktop?
As you can see, it is much harder to cut and fit a compact laminate worktop than a traditional laminate worktop. Standard laminate is much softer and can be cut with more common tools.
You will find fitting instructions are usually supplied with a compact laminate worktop, but you will need some particular skills and tools that a DIY enthusiast may not possess.
Since compact laminate is a superior product that costs more than inferior worktops, it is worth using a professional fitter. The last thing anyone wants when completing their kitchen is to ruin the worktop.
Compact laminate worktops are an incredible product if you desire shapes and curves in your kitchen design. However, you will find that a professional fitter with experience will achieve a superior finish with seamless joins to enhance the final look.
If you are interested in having compact laminate worktops fitted, contact us today at Mr Kitchen Worktop Fitter. We supply and install a wide range of compact laminate worktops. We also offer a fitting service if you already have purchased your worktop.