Before ordering or measuring for your new or replacement countertops there are some decisions to be made beyond the colour and texture.
Countertops come in two basic styles, Postform or Straight Edge.
Postform is the most popular of all countertop styles. The laminate top surface is cemented to a particle board core which has the front and back edges shaped to a requested profile. The laminate is then one continuous form from the leading edge to the back of the countertop. This no-seam construction prevents moisture from entering.
Postform also offers a variety of front edge profiles. Check with your Formatop dealer for the many profiles that are available.
Straight Edge or Self Edge appears just as it sounds. All horizontal and vertical surfaces are at right angles. This style has seams where the different surfaces meet, so care must be taken to prevent moisture from getting into joints. Solid surface materials or wood edge treatments can be applied to the edges instead of laminate.
To allow doors or drawers to open properly the countertop may have to be raised to allow clearance. Blocks of wood 11/16″ high may be added under the countertop where it sits on the frame.
All end treatments must be taken into consideration when measuring for new or replacement countertops. Finished End For exposed countertop ends (those not ending against a wall) allow approximately 1″ overhang past cabinets. END CAP KITS are available from your Formatop dealer.
For exposed countertop ends butting up to appliances, a 1″ overhang may not be possible or desirable. For appliance finished ends 1/8″ to 1/4″ is the recommended overhang depending on size of appliance opening. Appliance Finished Ends can only be used with NON Buildup countertops.
These can be either single or double radius and must be specified as such. The edge butting a wall would not have a radius end. Radius ends require sufficient overhang past cabinets.
This is an optional piece used when the countertop end meets a wall. If you wish an end splash incorporated in your countertop design please specify. Formatop will incorporate this into the overall countertop measurement you supply. END SPLASH KITS can be supplied with countertop if specified. Refer to installation instructions contained in End Splash Kit.
A symmetrical arc used for Bartops and free-standing Islands. The radius must be included in the overall length of the countertop. This design requires sufficient overhang past the cabinets. A laminate edge is applied to finish the sweep.
These can be either single or double. Size must be specified in final measurements. Allow for sufficient overhang past the cabinets.
Cabinet depth is important. Allow an extra 1 1/2″ on the banjo or wide side of the cabinet. This design is used primarily for bathroom countertops where there is a shelf running behind toilet. Check with your Formatop dealer if there are any questions about measuring or specifications.
Formatop Mitre Collection
Formatop offers a wide variety of countertop configurations. Here are some of the mitre designs that are available in various dimensions. Mitred sections are required for various segments of the countertop construction where, because of laminate size restrictions and corner angles, the countertop must be made in pieces. Sizes under 7 ft. x 7 ft. can be delivered fully assembled by Formatop. Sizes beyond this are restricted because of delivery truck dimensions and home interior limitations, i.e. doorways.
Formatop offers a wide variety of countertop configurations. Shown on the right are some of the mitre designs that are available in various dimensions. Mitred sections are required for various segments of the countertop construction where, because of laminate size restrictions and corner angles, the countertop must be made in pieces. Sizes under 7 ft. x 7 ft. can be delivered fully assembled by Formatop. Sizes beyond this are restricted because of delivery truck dimensions and home interior limitations, i.e. doorways.
Measuring For New or Replacement Countertops
When measuring for new or replacement countertops, it is imperative that the dimensions be as accurate as possible. Details such as wall squareness, end treatments, and end splash should be noted carefully. Your Formatop dealer can help you with any mitre or dimension questions. Use this guide on page 6 to help you calculate your countertop design.
Replacing Existing Countertops
If the countertops are being replaced without any changes to the layout, then you can simply measure the existing countertops (see diagram above).
Measure the total length of each piece of the countertop along the back where the countertop meets the wall. Measure the width of each piece of countertop. Include any backsplash dimensions within your measurements. Measure each additional piece of countertop, taking care to measure to the nearest 1/8″.
For islands measure the length and width of the countertop and indicate square, radius or diagonal corners. For bartops measure the width and the length from the wall to the end of the bartop. Indicate size of sweep or radius if required (see bar sweep finished end diagram above).
Where two walls meet behind countertop, it is important to verify that they are at a 90 degree angle. On one wall measure 3 ft. from the corner and on the adjoining wall measure 4 ft. from the corner. Mark these positions carefully. Measure the diagonal between the two points. This distance should be 5 ft. (60″) for a 90 degree corner. If your measurement is less than 59 3/4″ or more than 60 1/4″ make sure you note this on your measurements.
Measure dimensions A-B and C-D. Make sure that you include the backsplash depth. Also include measurements 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 2-7.
Specify the type of end finish including necessary radius or angle dimensions. NOTE: Indicate whether the countertop requires Build-up.
Countertops For New Cabinets
When measuring for completely new countertops it is extremely important that you know the exact dimensions of the new cabinets. Measure the total length of each cabinet section along the back wall (example dimensions 130″, 36″, 36″). Measure the depth of the cabinets excluding the thickness of the doors. Standard kitchen cabinet depth is 24″. For countertop depth allow for overhang past cabinet (standard overhang is 1 1/2″). The depth of the countertop would then be 24″ + 11/2″=25 1/2″. This is Formatop’s standard countertop depth. Verify that all corners are 90 degrees.
For free-standing Island cabinets
Measure the width and the length (example 36″ and 84″). The countertop dimensions should allow for overhang on all four sides. Allow for a minimum of 1 1/2″ overhang on all sides. If there is to be a seating area on one or more sides of the island, then the dimension of the overhang will have to be increased. Overhangs larger than 12″ will require additional support from the cabinet.
Use the dimension graphic on page 6 in the Ordering and Installation Guide to lay out your new countertop dimensions. Be sure to indicate whether countertop requires Build-up. Specify countertop dimensions, NOT cabinet sizes.
Vanity and Bartops
Measure the width and length of the new cabinets. Indicate location of walls and any end treatment options.
Standard Postform Countertops
Formatop offers a standard range of countertop depths.
- Kitchen countertops 25 1/2″ will accommodate standard 24″ cabinet depth.
- Bartop standard sizes 26 1/2″ – 27″, depending on model. Also available in 33″, 36″, 39″ and 42″.
- Vanities available in standard sizes 22 1/2″ and 23 1/4″.
Special measurements and configurations plus seriously out-of-square walls should be discussed with your Formatop dealer.
How To Remove Old Countertops
CAUTION: Be sure to turn off all water at shut-off valves, then disconnect and remove all plumbing fixtures before removing countertop. If you are not sure, check with your plumber. Move all appliances out of the way so they won’t be scratched or damaged.
Remove all brackets or braces holding countertop to cabinet frame. In mitred areas unscrew and remove any mitre bolts (see installation).
Caulking beads along the backsplash, countertop edges and mitre joints should be cut with a sharp utility knife. Any trim around the countertop edge should be removed.
Lift the countertop away from the base cabinets with a pry bar. Take care not to damage the cabinets. Mitred countertops should come up in sections. If the countertop resists being pried up, it may be necessary to cut the top in pieces. Using a coarse wood cutting blade in a jigsaw or reciprocating saw, cut the top into easily removable sections. Take great care not to cut into the cabinets.
Some old countertops are made of ceramic tile set in a masonry base. To remove the tile, chip it away from the base using a masonry chisel and hammer. To prevent injury wear protective glasses. Cut the remaining mortar bed into pieces using a circular saw with a masonry cutting blade. If any damage occurs to cabinets during this process, be sure to repair them and check the level.
How To Install Your Formatop Countertop
Formatop countertops come in stock lengths and widths and can be cut to your finished sizes. Premitred countertops are also available through your Formatop dealer. For exposed or appliance ends Formatop supplies kits that contain preshaped laminate strips.
- Tape Measure
- Straight Edge
- Framing Square
- Caulking Gun
- Belt Sander
- Medium Wood File
- Formatop Countertop
- Latex Silicone
- Mitre Bolts
- 1/2″ Wood Screws
- End Cap Kit
When a Formatop standard length countertop is purchased from your dealer, it may not be the exact size you require and will have to be cut to fit. Accurately measure to establish your length requirements. Mark the required cutting line, using a framing square, on the underside surface of the countertop. Using a jigsaw, cut off the countertop on your prescribed line. Use a clamped straight edge as an accurate guide. Cut carefully to avoid chipping laminate surface.
Place new countertop sections on cabinets and check fit and dimensions. The countertop front should be parallel to the front of the cabinets. Make sure there is clearance to open the cabinet doors or drawers. If the countertop needs to be raised up to allow clearance (see Build-up), fix 11/16″ wood blocks under countertop at points where it sits on the frame of the cabinets. Check to see that the countertop is level. If not this may necessitate using wood shims to level countertop.
Prior to finishing installation, apply included end caps. Attach the particle strips included in the End Cap Kit (see diagram above). Apply end cap laminate by holding against countertop end, allowing for slight overlap of edges. To activate the glue on the end cap laminate, use an iron set at maximum heat. It is preferable to use a damp cloth between the iron and the laminate and use a back and forth motion to adhere the laminate. Using a small, smooth wood block, rub the end cap to ensure proper adhesion. When cool (use a wet cloth) file off the excess laminate with a medium wood file. Be careful when filing. Place the file almost parallel to the top of the countertop and file in a single-direction motion. If requested, the end caps can be applied by Formatop.
Attach 3/4″ brackets to the cabinet with 1/2″ screws. If there is a horizontal strip of wood on the front and back of the cabinet you may not have to attach brackets.
Check where countertop meets the wall. If you can see gaps, then your walls may not be straight and even. Open a compass at a point in the largest gap between the wall and the countertop. With the point of the compass always touching the wall, move the compass down the edge, scribing a line along the edge of the countertop backsplash. Remove the countertop, and using a belt sander, grind the backsplash to the scribed line.
Place new countertop on cabinets, making sure of the alignment. Establish position of sink or cooktop. To mark cutout for self-rimming sink, position the sink upside down on the countertop and trace the outline. Using a straight edge draw a cutting line 1/2″ inside the already scribed outline. Drill a pilot hole just inside the cutting line, large enough to accommodate the blade of the jigsaw. Cut along the cutting line with a fine tooth blade and make the corners of the cutout slightly rounded.
NOTE: It is wise to support the cutout area from underneath to prevent damage. Removing the countertop from the cabinets before cutting will eliminate possible damage to the cabinets. When installing the sink, it is recommended to put waterproof silicone under the rim of the sink to prevent water penetration. The same applies to cooktops.
When the countertop is in position on the cabinets apply a bead of waterproof adhesive such as silicone along any mitred edges. Carefully align the countertop pieces and push together tightly. Verify the countertop alignment both front and back.
From inside of the cabinets and underneath the countertop, install the take-up mitre bolts (supplied with countertop). Install as shown in diagram 11. Tighten only slightly at this point. Check top of countertop, and with a hammer and a piece of wood, tap the mitre joint lightly to obtain a smooth joint. Tighten mitre bolts firmly.
NOTE: For mitred sections 7 ft. x 7 ft. and under, Formatop can supply as a completely assembled unit. Larger units are shipped in sections due to transport and home interior size restrictions.
Fix the countertop to the cabinets. Be sure to use the right length of screw so as not to puncture laminate surface. Screw through brackets or wood strips into countertop.
To prevent water infiltration apply a small quantity of latex silicone to the mitred edges. Completely wipe off excess. Use silicone to seal edge between countertop backsplash and wall. Smooth with wet finger and wipe off excess caulking.
Hook up sinks and other appliances.
If you have concerns about installation, contact your Formatop dealer.