Q. Mable asks: My Formica kitchen counter has a 6-inch crack in it with splinters of burned edges at both sides of the crack. This was the result of leaving my coffee pot on too long. I have been told that it can't be patched as all one piece across the counter. Do you have a solution? Your articles are lifesavers.
A. Plastic laminate or "Formica" is again becoming one of the more popular finishes for kitchen countertops mainly because of the myriad patterns and finishes that are now readily available.
Unfortunately, although the cosmetic aspects of the product have significantly improved over time, you still can't place hot items (pots, pans, or coffee pots) upon the surface without experiencing cracking, blistering, or otherwise affecting the lamination. To many this is not a real disadvantage so long as hot pads are available. Also, be aware that plastic laminate remains one of the least expensive alternatives for new kitchen counters.
We are not familiar with any proven fix or technique -- short of replacement -- that will restore your top to its original condition. Nonetheless we have come up against this problem on occasion and seen repairs successfully made using a maple butcher block patch.
With this technique, the damaged area is cut out and a piece of maple butcher block is installed in its place using a metal trim ring, similar to the ones used to install sinks in this type of top. You end up with a bonus here, too. Not only do you get rid of that unsightly damaged area, but you create a nice cutting surface that can be an attractive addition to your kitchen.
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