APRIL 28, 2011 9:43PM

How To Laminate a Table

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As you may or may not know, we're moving to Chico, California on May 31st. Our prospective domicile is a 1980's contemporary extravaganza and I have been up late nights planning the minutia of interior decor to suit the style of the house. Call it overactive nesting instincts. Anyway, the kitchen has dominated much of these nocturnal ponderings. It is an eat-in kitchen with some serious built-in appliances in black... 1983 double ovens anyone?

Why not black, I wondered? I have stainless at my current house and have concluded we are not tidy enough to qualify for a package of stainless steel appliances anyway. Black: I'm going with it. A little research on how to decorate a kitchen with black appliances revealed some helpful information. Did you know that black appliances visually recede rather than pop-out? Sounding good so far... I'm down with receding appliances. Can it make the dishes and mess recede as well?

Another tidbit: a modern style kitchen with checkered black and white floors and a pop of red here and there goes well with black appliances. Okay, the floors at the Chico house are tan linoleum in great condition and I am not the kind of girl to go ripping out perfectly healthy flooring. Also, I would have serious reservations about installing a checkered floor. Pop of red sounds okay but I am pretty sure some red dish towels are not going to really tie the room together. Maybe a checkered rug a la Big Lebowski?

Another tip with black appliances is to have a black surface elsewhere in the kitchen, making the choice of black appear purposeful. This sounded reasonable to me. And since we don't have a dinette table already, so began my obsessive search for a black dining table. I became fixated on the idea of a retro 1950's style dinette for the eat-in area. After much Googling, it turned out I could not find a black table in a retro dinette save one place that would make a custom one for a small fortune.

I put the idea to the back of my head. That lasted about ten hours. Then, as I was selling my Victorian style sofa (won't go in the 80's contemporary house... maybe 1880's) I found a shop in Boulder called "Clutter". Owner Patty Ross accepts consigned home furnishings and sells them from her magnificent shop on 9th near Pearl Street. In emailing her about the sofa I happened to ask if she had any retro dinette tables. Turns out she did. Vintage 1950's with a silver laminate - very, very reasonable price.

I darted down there to check it out. It was built like a tank, but I immediately knew that it was not the black table I was after. Could it be made black somehow? A quick Google convinced me I could re-laminate... so Patty and I slid that table into the back of the Nissan Cube and a trip to Home Depot later I was all set up for project re-laminate.

How I did it:

The table "before"

Step One: Rough up and level the existing table surface with a sander.

The roughed-up and leveled table.

Step Two: Cut a piece of laminate slightly oversized. Laminate can crack and chip so I had to be gentle with it.

The rough-cut laminate

Step Three: Apply contact cement to the top of the debris-free table and the bottom of the laminate. Double coat the edges. Let dry for 30 minutes.

Contact cement with disposable foam roller.

Table with cement applied.

Underside of laminate with cement applied.

Step Four: Cover most of the table with cardboard, leaving just a small strip of exposed cement on one side. Lay the laminate on top of the cardboard and, once it is positioned correctly, press the laminate down on the exposed strip of table. The layers of dry contact cement will adhere immediately. Pull out the cardboard and press the laminate down onto the table carefully, from one side to other.

Table and rough-cut laminate, united.

Step Five: Drink a beer.

Step Six: Using a router with a special bit that has a ball bearing guide below the blade that can run along the table, route off all the excess laminate. Dorky eye protection legitimizes the whole operation.

Routing off the excess laminate.

Voila- now I have successfully figured out how to re-laminate a table. If I figure out how to stop buying furniture in Colorado that I promptly have to haul to Chico, I'll let you know.

I think this will look good with my black appliances.

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Laminating a table is actually a very simple thing. I bought a magazine that explained it to me step-by-step and everything worked like a charm. The only problems I had was replacing the new Whirlpool parts in the dish-washing machine. That really took a lot of work as my technical expertise is not very advanced. The point is that if you have a house you have to learn to do all kind of stuff as the rates for laminating a table or replacing some electrical parts are huge!