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laminate countertop installationCan you believe that these countertops are laminate? Photo: Formica

So, your kitchen needs an update. You've conquered the backsplash, maybe installed new flooring and even painted your cabinets. How about topping things off with a beautiful laminate countertop?

Despite what you might think about laminate countertops from the past, they're making a comeback. These aren't your grandma's kitchen surfaces -- laminates come in so many different colors, patterns and textures these days that the options seem endless. Plus, they're budget-friendly and durable. What's not to like?

When it comes time for installation, though, you may not be sure which way to go. Are you a die-hard DIYer or would you rather hire a professional to top off your countertops? Let's take a look at both sides of the coin, and see which method is worth it to you.

HIRE-IT-OUT APPROACH

Let's assume you've purchased the materials and you're all ready to go, but you're just not sure about taking on the project yourself. You might be short on time or not have the proper tools. Plus, you've only got so much material, so what happens if you make a mistake? A poorly-installed countertop could cost quite a bit of money to repair.

There are a few steps in the laminate installation process that are important to get right the first time: prep, cutting the laminate, applying the adhesive, application, and finishing. Sincere there is no sealing or waiting for adhesive to dry between steps, you can actually get a laminate countertop installed in one day.

Hiring a professional will likely run you about $30 per linear foot, so cost will depend on the entire length of your countertop in feet. For the typical kitchen, that's several hundred dollars in labor alone.

DO-IT-YOURSELF APPROACH
Laminate countertops are the most DIY-friendly of all countertop surfaces. The tools are simple to use and the process it fairly easy, as long as you carefully follow each step. Here's what you'll need, and how much it'll cost.

Tool & Material Purchases:
Luckily, there are no large tools that need to be rented for this job. The pricier tools are sure to be used in another project, so they're worth it to buy. Below are the tools that you may need to purchase.

circular sawMakita circular saw. Photo: The Home Depot


Circular saw: This will be your biggest splurge, but a circular saw is a great staple tool to have in your electrical toolbox. You can get one for as low as $60. A circular saw will help you make precision cuts in your laminate. If you really don't want to make this purchase, you should get a good utility knife ($6) and some special laminate-cutting blades.

Power sander: For $50, you can get a power sander and trust me, your hands will thank you later when you have to sand ten doors for another project! You can use the sander to sand down the laminate edges as well as prepare the surface for your laminate by evening our the surface and removing glue or other residue.

Contact cement:
This is the adhesive that you will use to adhere the plastic laminate to the countertop surface. 1 gallon costs about $30.

Roller: For under $15, you should be able to find a decent rubber roller to help smooth down your laminate surface.

File: For about $8, you can invest in a decent file to use to file down the ends of the laminate so that they are smooth. You can also use sand paper for this action.

Dowel Rods: You can get 1/2" dowels for $0.68 each. You will need quite a few of these to help space and place your laminate before adhering.

And don't forget these necessities -- things you probably already have:
- Protective gloves and eyewear
- Paint brush for adhesive application
- Level

So are you ready to take it on yourself -- and save?




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