The Curious Case of the Crappy Cabinets & Countertop

My kitchen countertop had me perplexed. The laminate came unglued and I had to try and postpone the inevitable because Corian or quartz just aren’t in the budget yet. Unfortunately, we’ll have to replace the cabinets before we get new countertops. So, I headed over to Lowes and asked one of the salespeople what to use to glue it back together. She handed me a can of contact cement. It even says for laminate on the label. Sold.

So, I got the can home and read the fine print.

Contact Cement Warning Label

Holy moly! I don’t want to use this stuff! I don’t want to poison myself for these cheap junky cabinets and countertops. Maybe a little brain damage is tolerable for a dream kitchen, but not for what I got goin’ on round here. Hmmmph.

I googled non-toxic water based solvents and there are some options out there, but they aren’t available at my local Lowes. From what I’ve read online, it isn’t available in small quantities either. So, I thought I’d get clever and try something I already have in the house. Good ole non-toxic craft glue. I tried it on an inconspicuous area first. Since my some of my cabinet doors are also coming unglued, the bottom of this cabinet door was a good candidate.

Cabinet Door

I would show you the after picture, but it looks just like the before because it didn’t work. No surprise there, I guess. Shoot, if I want this kitchen to last another year or two until I win the lottery, I had to bite the bullet, open the windows and doors and get this job done.

So, that is just what I did. I gathered my materials and opened the windows.

Contact Cement Materials

The instructions say to apply the contact cement and let it set for 15 to 20 minutes before joining the pieces together. That was the stinkiest 20 minutes ever!

Applying Contact Cement

Then I pressed the surface layer to the board and taped it closed until it was secure.

Countertop Complete

It doesn’t look too bad. I hope I don’t have to do it again because did I mention this stuff stinks! If you ever have to use this stuff I’d recommend following the directions (of course), but also be sure to protect the surrounding surface area. I had a few drips come out the bottom edge onto the countertop surface and it could have made a mess had I not noticed it right away. I’d also have the proper materials to clean the applicator brush. Contact cement requires mineral spirits for cleaning, which I don’t keep around the house.

So, I thought to myself now that the countertops are done, what do I do with the cabinets? I really wanted to try super glue, but I know it probably wouldn’t work. I didn’t want to crack open that can of contact cement again.

Guess what? The super glue worked on the cabinets! Here is the before.

Unglued Cabinets

Here is the after.

Glued Cabinet

It isn’t perfect, but I think it looks much better. I don’t know how long it will last, but now at least none of the surface will accidently get torn off. That was a nightmare of mine, that someone in this house would think it was a good idea to grab hold of a loose piece and start tearing. Yeesh, the things I think of. Anyway, now the countertops and cabinets will live to see another day. Oh and something else I learned while doing this project, vegetable oil does work to remove super glue from your fingers. It just takes a little friction and patience. Scotch tape also came in handy to hold down the edges of the cabinet surface and protect my fingers from the super glue ooze.

Has anyone else had to repair laminate countertops or cabinets until they could remodel their kitchen?

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