Formica countertops come in many varieties. Thousands of colors, textures, patterns and sizes require thousands of different process settings. Thinner laminates, like curved countertops, have their own chemistry, timings and heat settings. Flat countertops may have a completely different composition and cure process [source: Formica].
Believe it or not, that hard kitchen and bathroom surface you use every day is actually made from paper. Formica countertops come in a variety of colors, patterns and textures, each starting with resin-soaked paper.
The inside, or filler, of Formica is made from brown paper bathed in an amber-colored phenolic resin, which is applied by rollers. The resin soaks through the paper, which then sets in a drying oven [source: Formica]. This gives Formica its strength and thickness.
The decorative side of Formica -- the part we see -- is made from high-grade print paper. This paper is put into a vat filled with a clear melamine resin. The paper then goes through a wringer, which squeezes off any excess. An overlay sheet makes it wear-resistant.
Hydraulic rams -- applying between 800 to 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch -- press the stacks of resin-soaked paper. The press heats the paper, allowing the resins to liquefy and spread. This bonds all the layers in the stack together into a single laminate unit [source: Formica].
After the unit is removed from the press, it is trimmed, and the bottom is sanded so that glue will stick to it when it is laid in a kitchen or bath.
As with most products, as Formica ages it's more susceptible to damage. One big gash and you might be tempted to invest in a new countertop. But wait -- you can repair damaged areas and save yourself time and money. Read on to learn how to repair Formica countertops.