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Thread: Flattening out curled laminate (Wilson Art / Formica) before gluing

  1. #1

    Flattening out curled laminate (Wilson Art / Formica) before gluing

    I have some Wilson Art laminate (Formica) that's been sitting rolled up for a while, and it seems to be retaining it's new, curled shaped.

    I want to flatten it back out before I glue it up so it does not start to fight the contact cement.

    Can I cover it with a towel and use an iron, or do I need a more creative solution?

    Thanks in advance for any input!

  2. #2
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    Roll it back up with the good side out, in reverse of how it curled now. Summer in the attic would certainly speed things up. But personally, I have used Formica which had been rolled with no adverse effects.

    Plenty of solvent-based contact cement creates a bond which will rip the laminate before letting it separate. give the main area two coats of CC. Give the edges another coat or two. IF still concerned, clamp boards over the edges and let set a day before trimming. But, I honestly don't think you'll have a problem.
    Necessisity is the Mother of Invention, But If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It !!

  3. #3
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    Ditto.

    The glue is stronger than the Formica.

  4. #4
    Quesne,

    With all due respect to the other posters, my answer is "it depends". If you have horizontal grade laminate (just under 1/16") and lay it flat on a table with the color side up and the laminate forms a U shape (the sides go up), the edges may or may not stay tight to the edging strip that is put on first.

    I would do as Chip has suggested and roll it carefully in the reverse direction and let it stay that way for a few days. Then remove the tape holding it together, lay it flat and see if it now lays close to flat.

    If you don't do it that way, in some cases you will get a "minute gap" along the edges, meaning the top sheet won't want to stay completely stuck to the edging piece. Trust me, I've seen this happen. Some fabricators put a little color caulk in the edge and some just install it that way (I would do neither). If that is the case, lay a 1 x whatever along the top edge and clamp it, as Chip recommended. That will definitely do the trick.

    Both posters, Larry and Chip, are correct that the glue is strong, but once you route off that top piece with the edge, that top piece can lift "slightly" if it has had a reverse roll in it for a long time (DAMHIKT).

    Another way to say it is the laminate sheet that is pressed down in the middle areas (anywhere not near the edges) has "friends" all around it to beat the roll. But when you route that outside edge flush, it just lost part of it's "friend" that was routed off. Hopefully that helps.

    Good luck friend!

    David
    Life is a gift, not a guarantee.

  5. #5
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    Laminates by brand

    Formica is not a generic term. It is a brand name. WilsonArt is a brand name. The laminate police will get ya if ya don't use the terms correctly.
    Glue it down as is the norm, roll it with a j roller with plenty of attention to the edges.
    Bill
    On the other hand, I still have five fingers.

  6. #6
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    The shop I was involved with used lots of plastic laminate. We never worried about a curl. A solvent based contact cement is more than strong enough to maintain adhesion.
    Howie.........

  7. #7
    Trying to apply the adhesive to a large area that wants to curl up can be kind of difficult. I have taken pieces like that, laid them on the bench, or floor, if they're really big, with the convex side up. Then put a sheet of mdf on it for a day. That will get it it most of the way flat.

  8. #8
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    Just a side note.

    Top shops that fabricate laminate spray the contact cement to both surfaces. They keep a "pot" of glue in line, and soak the gun head in thinner/solvent to keep it clean.
    Bill
    On the other hand, I still have five fingers.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill White View Post
    Top shops that fabricate laminate spray the contact cement to both surfaces. They keep a "pot" of glue in line, and soak the gun head in thinner/solvent to keep it clean.
    Bill
    I have such a system Bill, and you no longer need to worry about soaking the gun, just don't take it off the tank. I have left it months and when I need it it is ready to go.

    Beats the heck out of the roller mess, and is stronger than WB. Now the old flammable, that was some glue!

  10. #10
    Just as a FYI. Having working in a shop making laminated fixtures for beauty shops, any time we had to trasnport sheets of plastic, we would roll it with the good side in. Easier to use when unrolled, as well as kept the good side scratch/damage free. Also when sticking a large sheet on to a substrait: Lay long dowels or some kind of sticks across the substrait (after both surfaces have been painted with contact cement) to keep the two surfaces apart, and place the laminate on top of the dowels. Then check all sides to make sure the plastic overlaps the substrait, then pull the center dowel out and stick the middle first. Then work from the middle to the edges (with a J roller) pulling out the dowels as you work your way to the edges.
    Last edited by Vince Shriver; 01-29-2009 at 10:06 PM.

  11. #11
    Thanks very much to everyone for the feedback.

    I had already tried flattening it with a big piece of plywood and "back-rolling" it in the opposite direction, but I was still left with a lot of big waves in the material and the corners were pretty tightly curled.

    FYI - Most of the problem pieces are cut from horizontal grade material, which is thicker and more resistant than the thinner stock.

    So here is where I am now....

    Since I have some extra material, I decided to run a few experiments. I glued a strongly curled test piece to a sheet of plywood and, just like you folks said, the glue appears to hold the plastic flat. The only potential problem area appears to be the corners where the laminate is curling upward and is the most stressed. I did not clamp it, ala Chip (only rolled it), but clamping could certainly make a difference. It may look fine now, but I'm especially concerned what will happen in 6 months or 2 years.

    To see what would happen, I broke out the iron and a hand towel and I heated up one of my extra pieces. It did not flatten itself out all alone, but it softened the material enough so I could easily de-curl the problem spots by "back-rolling" it. I presume that heating it up is OK since I've heard that heating it is one way to reposition a piece after it has been glued.

    Anyway, it seems to be working fine this way. I plan to get everything as flat as I can and then glue it up.

    Thanks again for all of the help!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill White View Post
    Formica is not a generic term. It is a brand name. WilsonArt is a brand name. The laminate police will get ya if ya don't use the terms correctly.
    Glue it down as is the norm, roll it with a j roller with plenty of attention to the edges.
    Bill
    Bill, you got me shakin' in my boots. The laminate police! I just told my wife to lock the doors and check the phones for bugs :-) Maybe I should call it "melamine-resin-impregnated composite plastic laminate". That should make things much clearer! :-)

  13. #13
    Wet the back with a spray bottle, and iron it till it's dry. It takes about 350 degrees F to soften high pressure laminate.

  14. #14
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    IRON laminate ? Ummm if you get it too hot the laminate itself will de-laminate and /or burn. Use an iron to remove laminate, or ease around a tight corner -CAREFULLY - having worked in a high volume commercial shop for a few years, we never were concerned w/ curling.(unless it prevented us from cutting it on the saw safely) Yes the old flammable glue was "the bomb" too bad the glue police decided it was bad for us. The current "standard" in the industry is a self contained, pressurized cylinder (kinda like a propane cylinder) with a single hose leading to the spray head (adjustable) - spray both sides, set the laminate and J-roll. When you get good at it you dont need no stinkin' dowels - I've thrown down 4x8's single handed - for odd shaped stuff I'll tape an edge and peel it back, or do it in halves rolled back. Like I said - when you get good at it, it's a breeze.
    Elvis isn't dead, he just went home Yes, I am a joker - Take it with a grain of salt

  15. #15
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    I remain Guiltless! I always ordered Formica brand laminate for my uses. I had their set of color chips for free. WilsonArt wanted me to buy the set. HaHa!

    Now that I stopped drinkin' and got the BEER NAZI (wifie) off my back, I have to worry about the Laminate Police! Life is HARD!
    Necessisity is the Mother of Invention, But If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It !!

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