How Formica Works

Formica Countertops

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.