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How to Add a Cutting Board to a Laminate Countertop

Adding a cutting board to a countertop is a good strategy when you have a damaged area. You don’t always need to replace a whole countertop when just one part of it looks awful. Odds are that the damage is adjacent to a sink or range — high-risk areas. So all you have to do is cut out the damaged section and, in its place, put in a cutting board, a sheet of glass, or some decorative tiles, and guests will think you got the idea from a magazine focusing on upscale homes.

Before you make a cut, look under the damaged area to find out whether any supports or braces would be damaged if you cut a hole in the counter. If there are, you’ll have to rout the surface instead of cutting all the way through it.

The logical place for a cutting board is right next to a sink where you can wash vegetables, chop them, and scrape the scraps directly into the garbage disposal. You may also want one next to the stove so as you cut, you can dump the pieces into a pot. You need a good-quality cutting board or piece of butcher block with beveled or finished edges. The piece needs to be slightly larger than the damaged portion of the countertop. You also need a square and ruler, a pencil, a saber saw with a long tapered blade or a router, a level, clear silicone caulk, adhesive, and a metal frame that the wood piece can fit into. Look for them in the kitchen area of home improvement stores.

  1. Measure and mark the laminate.

    Use a square and ruler to mark each side precisely.

  2. Make sure the new piece will be level from side to side and along the front before you start cutting.

    Make sure that it’s level with the edge of the counter, not the back wall. Most walls aren’t completely straight, but the counter edge should be.

  3. Cut the countertop along those marked lines with a saber saw if you intend to go all the way through the counter.

    Go slowly enough that the saber saw doesn’t head off on a tangent.

    Or you can use a router to make a shallow cut into the plywood in the counter, to make a base to support the cutting board or butcher block.

  4. Starting in the center or well inside a cut seam, pry up the vinyl laminate and plywood under it.

    If you start inside the cut edges, there’s less risk of nicking the surrounding countertop.

    If you used a router, level the surface and sand it so that the board will fit into the hole tightly without rocking.

  5. Apply adhesive to the surface of the cutout and set the board in place.

    Press down on it to make sure it bonds tightly.

  6. Cover the board with cloth and weight it.

    This will help the adhesive form a tight bond.

  7. Squeeze a thin line of clear silicone caulk all around to seal the joint between the countertop and board.

    That will keep food out of the cracks and prevent mold from forming.

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