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Thread: Countertop help

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    West Central Mn

    Countertop help

    I am going to put a sink in a set of base cabinets that I recently made. This is a first time sink install for me. The top will be formica type of material. What should I be using for a substrate. I am leaning towards plywood, but some tell be to use something else. What advice can you give me?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    mid-coast Maine and deep space
    Plywood is fine - some use particle board because it's cheaper but I always prefer plywood to PB.
    "... for when we become in heart completely poor, we at once are the treasurers & disbursers of enormous riches."

  3. #3
    I do acres of Formica countertops with the broadcast furniture I build. I use double layers of 3/4" BB ply (need the weight and easier on tooling than particle board). I would advise against particle board in any application that could see water intrusion.
    Bill R., somewhere in Maine

  4. #4
    Particle bd...

  5. #5
    No Particle board, I have made two kitchen counter tops. The first was marine Ply wood, the second was particle board. The plywood one looks as good as the day it was installed, the particle board swelled up at the sink, the back splash swelled. I will never use it again.

  6. #6
    Yeah, I was going to say, particle board anywhere around water is a bad idea. Go plywood, it's very stable, not as heavy and not subject to falling apart if it gets wet.

  7. #7
    The correct type of PB makes the difference. The stuff at Borgs, lumber yards is for under carpet. Cabinet shop supply companies stock the good stuff. For most, myself included, plywood is the best choice. My first, and second choice is the plywood from HD that is made in Chile. HD often refers to it as "cabinet grade," when it's just South American Pine. As for your sink, assuming it's a sink, and not a lavatory, be sure and use a bead of plumbers putty around edge of cut out. This creates a "dam" to prevent water from getting to substrate. Look in Lowes for the "gel" contact cement. I find it easier to work with. I apply my cement using a roller designed to apply contact cement. If its a small job, then the spray cans are competitive in costs.

  8. #8
    It's not just water leaking between the sink and the laminate that's a concern, if you ever have a leak at the faucet assembly or at the connections under the counter, you could end up with water being sprayed directly on the particle board beneath the countertop as well. When that PB swells, it'll be time for a whole new countertop.

  9. #9
    If you don't know how to install a sink with preventive water maintenance at new , you will have future problems. its called plumbers putty and caulk. Most failures are from lack of proper installation, not materials....

  10. #10
    Good quality particleboard is the industry-standard if done right you should have no problems , if you are going to use plywood you need to use a backer sheet on the bottom of your plywood or it will Cup and bow if you're concerned about water there is a water resistant MDF that would work better than plywood i've done a lot of tops over the years I have not had a problem with water when they're done right Jack is correct about the sink installation
    Thanks John
    Don't take life too seriously. No one gets out alive anyway!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Leesville, SC
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Murdoch View Post
    Plywood is fine - some use particle board because it's cheaper but I always prefer plywood to PB.
    I agree with Sam. Plywood for me......
    Army Veteran 1968 - 1970
    NRA Lifetime Member
    I Support the Second Amendment of the US Constitution

  12. #12
    I just went to look and locally, 3/4x4x8 particle board is $20 a sheet, the same size in plywood is about $30. That's not really a lot of savings if you're just doing a single countertop, is it?

  13. #13
    I would buy the pb because I know. You can buy pb that is water resistant and lighter. MDF can be purchase the same. Almost all pb tops fail from improper installation. Remember plywood molds and not usually noticed until theres a problem...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Bronx, NYC, NY
    I found that counter tops are a rather specialized deal, especially if they are to have a sink installed. This is one job that, if I had it to do all over again, I'd farm out to a specialist. I'd build the base - no problem as long as you build it to battle-ship specs - and leave the top to the pro.

    Also I'd use Corian, or something similar; Formica can be scratched through, as my bro found out...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Glenmoore Pa.
    I have used PB for countertops many times, but I always seal the edges of the sink cutout and anywhere else where it matters( scribe cut against a wall etc.). A real simple way to do this is to coat it with contact cement first to seal it up. Then hit it with a coat of paint or something that will prevent water intrusion.

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