Repositionable Adhesives for Laminate Work

Advice for test-fitting and adjusting laminate during glue-ups. January 28, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I don't do a lot of laminate, mostly carpentry, but I've been asked to convert a large cabinet into an open display case by facing the inside with wood-grained pattern Formica. Even in my shop I think I'd have a tough time getting the laminate sheets positioned perfectly with contact adhesive. On site with all the vertical surfaces, forget it. Is there an adhesive I can use that will grab well but still give me a minute or two to slide the laminate around and get it positioned perfectly?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor G:
Maybe you could lay up the laminate on 1/4" and use liquid nails. If it was me I think I would just go with contact cement and use an extrusion in the corners to gain a little ease. I have used these with 8' ceilings - easier than moving cabinets.

From Contributor O:
I've used pure silicone with a 1/16" v-notch trowel to get a good even application for various things that needed slight repositioning. Two downsides, slow to cure and has a smell while curing. It has good grab but it is wise to lightly clamp the seen edges to prevent any chance of lift off while it dries overnight.

From contributor M:
It's really not hard. Keep trimming until you get a good nice fit when dry fitting. I always stick the back first, it's the hardest. Then you just make sure you're tight in the back corner before you stick, even if you're off a little the laminate will shift itself right when you force it into place, use a good flat block to tap it into the corner if it's tight. Contact cement is less and less forgivable the more you let it dry. If you stick it before it's 100% ready it'll give you the play you need. It might be intimidating but it's not that hard, keep a scrap piece of laminate to jam behind it and work it loose if you need to. I would recommend roll on glue, not spray or canister because they dry much faster and are less forgiving if you need it to shift a hair. I think if you give it a try you'll be surprised how easy it really is. If it's really big hire a guy that applies laminate to walls, following irregular sheetrock corners and fitting long seams is what they do all day, and doing the inside of box would be a walk in the park for them.

From contributor A:
Melamine glue works very well for this. The downside is longer drying time and you have to clamp/press it in place because you don't have the tack factor.

From the original questioner:
I wanted to follow up on my original post. Contributor M - I took your advice and you were right on. I dry-fit very carefully, rolled on contact cement and stuck the laminate before the cement was totally dry. A couple of the inside corners were slightly off and gappy, but color matched caulk was good enough to make them work. Thanks a lot - I wouldn't have guessed it would work that well.