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"Repair of surface scratches in plastic laminate counter top"


Q. I just rented a new space, and moved my sales counter from the old store to the new one. In the move, my sales counter top (solid color plastic laminate) was scratched by some less than careful handling. I'm not sure if boxes that had dirt on the bottom or? were dragged over the surface, but the scratches are numerous. I can't afford to have the counter redone. These are NOT gouges, but scratches like what I would guess could occur from dirt on a box bottom, dragged over the counter top. I read (cannot resurrect the article) that matte finish, solid color plastic laminate surface scratches can be repaired with a liquid plastic, then buffed with something like "Scotch Brite." This is a "Robin's Egg Blue" matte finish laminate.Can you please help, by telling me where I can find such repair material?

Bill S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Huntington Beach, California


A. See this site: Popular Mechanics home_owner_clinic

Denis T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Vancouver, BC, Canada


A. I have been working with laminate for a few years now. I have seen thousands of tops pass through my shop and I wish that I could tell you that there were a miracle product that took all of your scratches out, but there aren't any. However there are a few ways to disguise your scratches one method is called seam-fill. This is a product made especially for filling gaps in plastic: you buy a whole color pallet and mix your own color, however the set cost about $120. So I would suggest one of two things. There is a product that you can get called Countertop Magic and it will conceal a lot of your scratches, or you can do what the pros do when they are in a pinch and you can find a magic marker the same color as your top and just wipe it on, if it doesn't come out to be the right color just use some lacquer thinner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] to get it off.

Good luck with those scratches!

Daniel B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lompoc, California


Q. We have been installing self adhesive vinyl on walls for a while,(like the regular wall paper) and we use some plastics pads with loop velcro on the edges or some fabric pads (Oshee pads) for applying the vinyl to the wall. However, we've been having the same problem ... some scratches on the laminate. I want to know if somebody knows a technique to remove / prevent these scratches.

Jacinto Correa
finishing supervisor - Jacksonville, Florida


Q. I have a new house, and the counters are great but the counter in the bathroom is starting to fade. At first I thought it was the wife's make-up, but after a good clean it is still faded. Is there a product that will bring back the original finish?

Alyn Barnes
Carpenter - Canada

December 5, 2008

A. I have worked with plastic laminates for over 25 years and I have always said that once you scratch or mar the surface you are screwed.

I recently discovered by accident and by hours of experimentation how to fix laminate scratches. If the scratches go through the color - You're still screwed. However, many scratches are superficial scratches that can be repaired. In my case the surface was marred by an orbital sander with 150 grit sandpaper. The marks were the size of nickels and quarters. There were 4 or 5 of them in one area of the laminate. The laminate was Wilson Art "Amber Fusion" matte finish. When I was done with the repair, no one in my shop could tell where the scratches were. Here is the exact process and materials I used:



1. Apply softscrub to the scratched area and sand it uniformly with the 320 grit wet or dry. Use only enough water to slightly thin the softscrub but not to watery. You want it to have a thin paste-like consistency while you sand. Check periodically by wiping everything away until your surface scratches are gone and all that is left is your 320 softscrub sanding pattern.
2. Next use 1800 grit micro mesh with softscrub. This time use a little more water with the softscrub so it is a little thinner. (Not pasty but more milky.) Sand it well with the 1800 grit before moving on.
3. Next use 2400 grit micro mesh with EVERCOAT hand glaze (the autobody hand polish). Again sand well so you uniformly cover the entire area.
4. Next move to 3200 grit micro mesh with EVERCOAT hand glaze - exactly as in step 3.
5. Next use 3600 micro mesh with water only - no polish. Sand the entire area thoroughly. At this point you will be amazed at your results. The only difference you should be able to see is that the surface area you are working on is slightly duller than the original laminate - but the scratches will be gone.
6. Now use 4000 grit micro mesh with water only. Polish the repair area with 4000 grit and water.
7. Now clean and use whatever furniture polish you would normally use on the laminate.
Where are the scratches ? They are gone!

The only difference in the repair area and the original laminate is a textural difference that is almost undetectable to an untrained eye. If you did each step thoroughly that I outlined above you will be absolutely amazed at the results - particularly if you are familiar with laminates and how unforgiving they are to scratching.
Like I said earlier - none of the people in my shop were able to see where the scratches were.

I would advise whoever uses this process to first test it on a scrap piece of laminate to get a feel for performing the steps. Then do the actual repair itself. It does take a lot of hand rubbing and sanding but the results will be what you wanted. I estimate that an area about 6" x 24" would take approximately 1 hour to complete from start to finish.

One final thing - you may want to get the entire micro mesh set because the final steps in the process are simply to bring the sheen to the same level as the original laminate. Having additional micro mesh grits gives you the option of bring the sheen up higher if you need to on some laminates. I have no idea if this would work on a High Gloss laminate but on matte laminates - it truly is amazing.

If you found this helpful let me know.


Mark Wiesman
- Grand Rapids, Michigan

March 10, 2009

Q. I was wondering how that Orange Glow resurfacer for poly finished wood floors would work on plastic

Kevin Lane
- Buffalo, New York

December 1, 2009

Q. I just started a new job as a maintenance technician and my job requires a lot of furniture repair, so here I am in the situation of having to repair some laminate furniture, coffee tables, to be exact; so, my question is, Is it okay if I do the sanding by utilizing some kind of sanding machine? And if so, which kind should I use?

Jose Enriquez
maintenance tech. - Orland, California

December 2, 2009

A. Hi, Jose. It would depend on the type and quality of the laminate, I'm sure. If it's a high-pressure laminate like Formica, it would seem difficult to damage if you used reasonable care. But some MDF furniture has a lamination no thicker than a sheet of paper, and you could easily sand through this.

I'd say try an orbital vibratory sander with very fine sandpaper. This would be not much faster than hand sanding, but less fatiguing, and see how fast the work goes and how damaging it is to the laminate. Of course, if a co-worker could give you some OJT it would be a lot better :-)


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 19, 2010

A. I may have found one answer. My coffee table had gotten scratched over the years to the extend that it looked as if someone had tried to sand it. Using combined tips listed here, I figured I had nothing to loose, so I got out my manicure polisher sponge. This is the type used to evenout and polish the face of the nails. Use the 2 Final step sides (polish and buff). Very slightly dampening the surface -I spritzed window cleaner on my coffee table, wiped it off, and polished the top while it was still slightly moist. It did seem to work better than I thought. I might be able to keep the coffee table now.

Kae Morgan
- West Lafayette, Ohio USA

October 15, 2014

Q. Many years ago I worked for a company that specialized in restoring laminate tops. We had a technique that was virtually impossible to see. First the area or areas were sanded much like the response above. Then we would use a spray paint that was as close to the color as possible. Finally we would use a clear tinted spray paint that went on and left a textured finish. We had one guy that worked there that could even repair wood finishes by repainting the grain in by hand and using several light layers of different colored tinted clear coat paints. Unfortunately I do not remember what the paints were that we used. if anyone does, please remind me and help the others on this page as well

Kevin Crist
- Hagerstown Maryland USA

February 18, 2015

A. I recently purchased an old 50's kitchen table with a Formica top. It did not look abused, but it was well worn. It exhibited lots of surface scratches and a slight yellowing. Here's what I did to achieve satisfactory results:
- Cleaned and scrubbed with a stainless scouring pad.
- Sanded with 400 grit wet dry paper and automotive glazing compound. This removed the scratches but left the finish very matte in appearance.
- Repeated the last step, but with 800 grit paper.
- Applied "Autosol" metal polish and went at it with the 800 grit paper for a while.
- Applied autosol and went at it for a while with a cloth only. Also polished the aluminum edging while I was at it.
- Applied 4 coats of "Renaissance Wax" with a cloth to both the table top and edging.
Now it looks brand new.

Paul Holunga
- Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

July 17, 2016

Q. My landlord installed new kitchen cabinets. They are compressed wood painted with laminated. They totally scratch them all up. I can't find anything that can cover that. Any suggestions?

Lydia Rivera
- Bronx New York

July 2016

A. Hi Lydia. I think readers will have a difficult time picturing what you are speaking of. Are the cabinets white, or wood-tone? What scratches them, the landlord installing them, or wear-and-tear with kids in the house? A photo would help.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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