Laminate backsplashes can add a stylish, low-maintenance accent to kitchens and bathrooms. However, laminate is susceptible to damage from moisture, impact, and heavy usage over time. Cracked, chipped, or lifting laminate around the backsplash is an eyesore and can allow water to seep behind the laminate, causing more extensive damage. Thankfully, there are several effective repair solutions for damaged laminate backsplash depending on the severity of the issue. With proper supplies, patience, and care, you can restore your laminate backsplash to like-new condition.
Assessing the Damage
Before attempting repairs, thoroughly examine the laminate backsplash damage. Determining the extent of the problem will guide the best repair approach.
Types of Damage
Common laminate backsplash damage includes:
- Chips or cracks – Impact damage from dropped objects can chip laminate or cause small cracks. This exposes rough edges or the laminate underlayer.
- Bubbles or lifting – When water seeps behind laminate, it can make the laminate swell and lift away from the wall. This creates bubbles or large lifted sections.
- Discoloration – Laminate can become stained from spills, moisture damage, or age. This appears as darkened or whitish discolored patches.
- Seam gaps – Gaps can appear between laminate sheets or between laminate and adjacent surfaces as adhesive fails over time.
- Loose laminate – Entire laminate sheets can detach completely from the wall if adhesive fails catastrophically.
Thoroughly examine all sides and seams of the laminate backsplash. Look for any signs of damage, lifting edges, gaps, cracks, chips, discoloration, or loose areas.
Use a putty knife to gently test if any sections sound or feel hollow, which indicates lifting from the substrate.
If possible, look behind the laminate by gently lifting the bottom edge. Check for signs of moisture damage, mold, or deterioration of the wall behind.
Clean and Prepare the Surface
Once you’ve assessed the damage, clean and prepare the backsplash surface before making repairs:
- Remove any caulk, sealant, or existing adhesive from damaged seams with a putty knife.
- Clean the entire surface with mild soap and water to remove grease, dirt, or grime.
- Lightly sand any rough edges on cracks or chips with fine 220 grit sandpaper.
- Wipe away all dust with a tack cloth. The surface must be totally clean for repairs.
- If there is moisture damage behind the laminate, allow the wall to fully dry out for 1-2 weeks before repairing.
Proper cleaning and surface prep creates the best bond for repair products.
Repairing Minor Chips and Cracks
Small chips, cracks, and edge damage can be repaired fairly easily with laminate repair filler. This resembles automotive body filler and fills defects for a smooth finish:
- Laminate repair filler compound
- Plastic spreader or putty knife
- Sandpaper (220 and 400 grit)
- Tack cloth
- Touch-up paint
Steps for Repair
- Sand crack edges lightly to roughen and clean. Remove debris.
- Force filler into cracks and chips, overfilling slightly. Spread smoothly.
- Allow filler to fully cure per manufacturer directions, usually 24 hours.
- Sand cured filler flush and smooth with the laminate surface.
- Wipe away all dust with a tack cloth.
- Apply primer/sealer over filled area per product directions. Allow to dry.
- Apply laminate touch-up paint to match original color. Allow to fully dry.
- Buff repaired spot gently with 400 grit sandpaper for a uniform finish.
- Clean surface and apply a clear sealant for protection.
With careful sanding and painting, the repaired spots should be barely noticeable. This preserves your backsplash’s appearance.
Fixing Lifted Edges and Seam Gaps
Lifting laminate edges and gaps between sheets or at seams are also relatively easy fixes. Careful gluing can re-adhere lifted sections flush to the wall.
What You Need
- Laminate adhesive or super glue gel
- Putty knife
- Painter’s tape
- Trim guide stick (optional)
Process for Regluing
- Lift laminate edge and apply a 1/8” bead of adhesive along the lifted section.
- Insert spacer sticks every 6-12 inches between laminate and wall so the laminate does not re-adhere crooked.
- Apply painter’s tape over lifted edge and firmly press entire area to adhere to wall.
- Use books or weights as needed to keep laminate flush as adhesive dries per product directions.
- Once fully cured, carefully cut away any adhesive squeeze-out with a putty knife. Sand any uneven areas.
- If gaps remain in seams, inject super glue deep into gaps. Allow to fully cure.
- Sand/file gaps smooth. Apply primer and laminate touch-up paint to conceal any remaining gaps.
- Allow paint to fully dry. Apply protective clear sealant over repaired seams.
With this method, lifted edges and gaps can often disappear, restoring a near seamless appearance.
Replacing Damaged Sections
For more severely damaged areas of the backsplash, partial replacement may be needed. This involves carefully cutting out the damaged section and installing a new matching laminate piece:
- New laminate sheet to match old
- Jigsaw with fine blade
- Laminate adhesive
- Trim guide stick
- Putty knife
- Painter’s tape
- Touch-up paint
- Measure and cut new laminate piece slightly larger than damaged section.
- Mask off repair area with painter’s tape to protect surrounding laminate.
- Carefully cut out damaged section using a jigsaw following your tape lines.
- Remove cutout piece and scrape/sand behind cutout area to prep wall.
- Dry fit new laminate piece and use guide stick spacers to align tightly to edge seams.
- Once aligned, lift out new piece and apply adhesive to back surface.
- Insert new laminate piece with spacers keeping tight to seams and press firmly.
- Tape over seams and allow adhesive to fully cure 24-48 hours.
- Inspect seams, sand smooth any uneven areas, fill gaps with super glue.
- Apply primer, then touch-up paint to conceal any imperfections on seams.
- Allow paint to dry fully. Apply protective clear sealer.
With careful cutting and gluing, the replacement section should blend seamlessly.
Total Laminate Backsplash Replacement
For laminate backsplash damage beyond repair, a full backsplash replacement may be necessary. This is more labor intensive but allows for a fresh start:
Items You’ll Need
- New laminate sheets to fit backsplash area
- Wall adhesive rated for laminate
- Trim guide spacers
- Jigsaw with fine blade
- Painter’s tape
- Putty knife
- Pry bar
Full Replacement Process
- Remove all trim, caulk, adhesive, and wall anchors from existing laminate with putty knife and pry bar.
- Once laminate is completely removed, scrape away any remaining residue from wall.
- Measure and cut new laminate pieces to size, allowing 1/8” gaps where sheets meet.
- Dry fit new laminate sheets with spacers at seams to test fit.
- Once satisfied with dry fit, lift out sheets and apply adhesive to wall and laminate.
- Carefully align laminate sheets with spacers keeping seams tight. Firmly press in place.
- Use painter’s tape to hold sheets flush at seams as adhesive dries 48 hours.
- Inspect seams, sand smooth any irregular areas, fill gaps with adhesive/sealant.
- Caulk along top edges and seams for a watertight seal. Allow to fully cure.
- Reinstall trim pieces with adhesive and sealant. Paint seams/trim for an invisible finish.
With careful prep and installation, your new laminate backsplash can look seamless and renew your whole kitchen or bath.
Laminate Backsplash Repair Tips
Follow these tips for successful laminate backsplash repairs:
- Always assess damage thoroughly before attempting repairs.
- Take time to properly clean and prep the repair surface area.
- Carefully follow adhesive cure times to achieve the strongest bond.
- With fillers and paint, take care to match original laminate colors as close as possible.
- For lifting laminate, use spacers during regluing to realign evenly with walls.
- With laminate replacement, make ultra-clean cuts to create tight seams with surrounding areas.
- Seal repairs and seams thoroughly to prevent moisture intrusion behind laminate.
- Be patient and take your time with repairs for optimal results matching the original backsplash.
With proper materials and techniques, laminate backsplash damage can often be repaired or replaced with almost invisible results. Avoid the eyesore and expense of a full kitchen or bath remodel! Carefully restored laminate can look as good as new.
Frequently Asked Questions About Repairing Laminate Backsplashes
What are the most common causes of damage to laminate backsplashes?
The most common causes of damage are impact cracks and chips from dropped objects, lifting and bubbles from moisture intrusion, and seams or edges pulling away from the wall as adhesives fail over time. Discoloration or stains can also occur from spills, leakage, cleaning chemicals, or age.
Is it possible to repair laminate backsplash damage myself or do I need to hire a professional?
Many laminate backsplash repairs such as small cracks, lifting edges, and seam gaps can be successfully completed by DIYers with the right materials and techniques. However, large damaged areas or full replacements are more complex and may require a professional for the best results.
What’s the best adhesive to use when regluing lifted laminate or installing a new backsplash?
Look for adhesives specifically formulated for laminates. Construction adhesives or mastics designed for countertops provide the strongest, longest-lasting bond for backsplash applications. Always follow adhesive cure times.
Is there a quick fix for minor damage like cracks or chips in my laminate backsplash?
For small defects, laminate repair filler lets you quickly fill and patch cracks or chips. Once cured, you sand and paint for an invisible repair. Larger damaged areas will require replacing whole sections or the entire backsplash.
Should I replace my entire laminate backsplash if it has multiple areas of damage?
It depends on the extent of damage. Multiple repairs in a small area can appear unsightly. If damage is spread out or the entire backsplash is old and worn, replacement may give you the cleanest, freshest look. Evaluate cost vs. results.
How can I prevent future damage and deterioration of my laminate backsplash?
Avoid abrasive cleaners, use cutting boards to protect from knives, seal perimeter edges with caulk, and promptly dry any moisture. Consider applying a clear laminate sealer annually to shield from chemical and moisture damage over time.
Laminate backsplashes provide a durable, attractive accent surface when installed properly. However, over time, cracking, lifting, discoloration, and other damage can occur. With the right materials and techniques, many laminate backsplash defects can be repaired by DIYers relatively easily. More extensive damage may require replacing sections or the entire backsplash. Addressing damage quickly preserves your backsplash’s appearance and prevents further water damage behind the laminate. With some patience and care, you can restore your laminate backsplash affordably.