How to Fix a Swollen Laminate Countertop

Determine the Cause of the Swelling

swollen laminate countertop

If you have a swollen laminate countertop, the first thing you need to do is to determine the cause of the swelling. There are several reasons why your countertop may have swollen and identifying the root cause can help you to choose the right fix. Here are some of the reasons why your laminate countertop could be swollen:

Water Damage

Water damage is one of the leading causes of swollen laminate countertops. This occurs when water penetrates the seams and edges of your countertop and gets trapped. Over time, the moisture causes the laminate to swell, leading to unsightly bulges and bumps. Spills, leaks, and accumulation of water around sinks and faucets are common culprits of water damage. If you suspect that water damage is the cause of the swelling, you may need to replace the affected parts of your countertop.

Improper Installation

Incorrect installation of the countertop can also lead to swelling. If the substrate on which the laminate is glued is not level, air pockets may form, which will cause the laminate to swell. The lack of proper adhesive can also result in swelling. This can be avoided by hiring an experienced professional or doing the installation carefully and correctly if you are doing it yourself. If you suspect that installation is the problem, consider getting the services of an expert to correct the problem.

Humidity and Temperature Changes

Laminate countertops are susceptible to swelling as a result of humidity and temperature changes. Moisture in the air can lead to swelling, while changes in temperature can result in the contraction or expansion of the laminate. Swelling could be as a result of humidity from a damp environment or repeated exposure to steam. One solution to this problem is to use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner to level the moisture. Proper ventilation can help reduce the accumulation of steam in the kitchen, reducing the likelihood of swelling. Avoid placing hot objects, such as pots and pans, directly on the countertop as this could lead to expansion and swelling of the laminate.

Chemical Damage

Harsh chemicals can damage laminate countertops. Certain chemicals used in cleaning detergents, as well as strong acids and bases, can cause the laminate to swell. Be sure to avoid using abrasive cleaning materials such as steel wool, brushes, and scouring pads. Check the labels of your cleaning products especially if it contains bleach or ammonia. If you must use these chemicals, dilute them in water and rinse the countertop thoroughly with clean water. Chemical damage may require replacement of the affected part of the countertop.

Impact Damage

Physical impact can cause damage to laminate countertops. Heavy objects hitting or being dropped on the countertop can cause bulges, dents, and cracks, leading to swelling. Scratches and gouges can also trap moisture, causing the laminate to swell. Be careful when handling heavy objects near your countertop and avoid cutting directly on the laminate surface. Use cutting boards instead. Consider repairing any visible damage to the countertop before it leads to swelling or irreversible damage.

Poor Quality Laminate

Sometimes, the cause of the swelling could be as a result of the quality of the laminate. Poor quality laminate is more likely to swell and warp with time. This is because the laminate has weak or less adhesive binding. Poor quality laminate may also have weak or less resistant core material, which can easily crack or crumble. If the swelling is as a result of poor quality laminate, you may need to replace the entire countertop.

Determining the cause of swelling in your laminate countertop will help you to determine the best fix for the problem. Whether it is a DIY repair or outsourcing help from an expert, identify the cause and resolve it to prevent further damage to your countertop.

Reduce Swelling with Heat

Reducing Swelling with Heat

If you have a swollen laminate countertop, you can reduce the swelling with heat. This method is especially helpful if the swelling is not too severe. Heat helps to open the pores of the laminate, allowing the moisture trapped inside to escape. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start by cleaning the swollen area with warm water and soap. Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub the area, being careful not to damage the surface of the countertop. Rinse the area with clean water and dry it with a clean cloth.

2. Next, get a clean towel and wet it with hot water. Wring out the excess water, leaving the towel damp. Place the damp towel on top of the swollen area of the countertop and press down firmly. Make sure the towel covers the entire swollen area.

3. Using a hair dryer, apply heat to the towel. Hold the hair dryer a few inches away from the towel and move it back and forth over the towel. Continue applying heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the towel is dry. Repeat this process several times, until the swelling has gone down.

4. Once the swelling has gone down, use a dry cloth to wipe away any leftover moisture. Apply a laminate sealant to the affected area, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help to prevent the laminate from swelling in the future.

It’s important to note that while heat can be effective in reducing swelling, it’s not a guaranteed fix. If the swelling is severe or if it persists even after trying the heat method, it may be time to call in a professional to assess the damage.

Additionally, it’s important to identify what caused the swelling in the first place and address the root cause. Common causes of swollen laminate countertops include exposure to excessive moisture, such as spills or leaks, and poor ventilation. By addressing these underlying issues, you can help to prevent future problems with your laminate countertop.

Overall, reducing swelling with heat can be an effective and relatively simple way to address minor swelling in laminate countertops. With a little bit of patience and persistence, you can often fix the problem and prevent it from happening again in the future.

Flatten the Affected Area with a Rolling Pin

Rolling Pin for Swollen Laminate Countertop

If the swelling on your laminate countertop is not too severe, you can try flattening the affected area with a rolling pin. This method works best for small elevated spots or a bulge in the laminate. However, it is not a permanent solution, and the swelling may occur again in the future.

Before you proceed with this method, remove any objects or items from the countertop. Stuff like cutlery, utensils, and appliances should not be anywhere near the rolling area, as they can cause damage to the kitchen gadget or the kitchen tools.

Firstly, use a clean cloth to wet the bulging area with water. Apply a reasonable amount of moisture to the affected region to make the laminate more pliable. You can also place a damp towel over the swelling and leave it for some time to settle.

You can then wrap a rolling pin in a plastic wrap or a sandwich bag to protect it from getting dirty. Make sure the rolling pin extends to the bulge area on the counter and start rolling gently over the affected region. Apply a consistent and steady pressure on the laminate and go over the spot multiple times until it is flat.

It is vital to take breaks in between the rolling to check the laminates’ condition. Overworking the torn part might further damage it. If you notice any tearing or the laminate already has deep cuts, stop rolling immediately. Rolling over ruined areas can cause further damage to the countertop.

The plastic-wrapped rolling pin or a wine bottle would work as an alternative if you don’t have one. You can use circular motions on the swelling until you see the bump flatten.

Definitely, this method isn’t a permanent solution, and if done well, you can enjoy a flat countertop surface for a while. However, the bump will eventually return after continuous usage or exposures to water or other liquids.

A swollen laminate countertop can be a pain to any homeowner. However, this article provides a few DIY techniques to rectify the damaged surface. If all else fails, reach out to a professional handyman to help you fix the problem.

Sand Down Unevenness and Apply Filler

sanding and applying filler to fix swollen laminate countertop

If your laminate countertop has swollen due to water damage, you can fix it by sanding down the unevenness and applying filler. Sanding will remove the swollen area and make it level with the rest of the countertop, while the filler will help to reinforce the weakened area and prevent further damage. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to sand down unevenness and apply filler to your swollen laminate countertop.

Step 1: Gather Materials

The materials you will need are:

  • Sanding block or electric sander
  • Sandpaper – 120 grit and 220 grit
  • Laminate filler
  • Putty knife
  • Paintbrush or roller

Make sure you have all these materials before you begin.

Step 2: Sand the Swollen Area

Use a sanding block or electric sander to sand down the swollen area of the laminate countertop.

  1. Start with 120-grit sandpaper to remove the bulk of the swollen area.
  2. Switch to 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and blend it with the rest of the countertop.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush or vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or debris from the sanded area.

Make sure the surface is completely clean and smooth before moving on.

Step 3: Apply Laminate Filler

Apply laminate filler to the sanded area with a putty knife. Spread it evenly and make sure it covers the entire area.

  1. Use a plastic scraper to remove any excess filler before it dries.
  2. Allow the filler to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This can take several hours.
  3. Sand the filled area lightly with 220-grit sandpaper to level it with the rest of the countertop. Be careful not to sand too hard or remove too much filler.

Wipe away any dust or debris with a soft-bristled brush or vacuum cleaner.

Step 4: Apply Finishing Coats

Apply finishing coats to the entire countertop to give it a uniform appearance.

  1. Apply a primer or sealer to the sanded and filled area to create a base coat.
  2. Allow the primer or sealer to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This can take several hours.
  3. Apply a topcoat of paint or laminate finish to the entire countertop. Use a paintbrush or roller and apply an even layer.
  4. Allow the topcoat to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This can take several hours.

Apply a second coat of topcoat if necessary. Allow it to dry completely before using the countertop.

Fixing a swollen laminate countertop can take time and effort, but it’s worth it to prevent further damage and improve the appearance of your kitchen. With the right materials and these steps, you can fix the problem and enjoy a beautiful, smooth countertop once again!

Seal the Countertop to Prevent Future Swelling

Seal the Countertop to Prevent Future Swelling

If you have dealt with a swollen laminate countertop before, you know how frustrating it can be. Not only does it look unsightly, but it also impacts the functionality of the kitchen. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent future swelling: sealing the countertop.

Sealing the countertop creates a waterproof barrier that keeps moisture from seeping into the laminate layers. During installation, the countertop installer may have applied sealant around the edges of the countertop, but over time, this sealant can wear away, leaving the countertop vulnerable to swelling.

To seal your laminate countertop, you will need a few supplies:


  • Laminate sealant
  • Paintbrush
  • Clean cloth


  1. Prepare the countertop: Clean the countertop surface using soap and water, and wait for it to dry completely.
  2. Apply sealant: Using a paintbrush, apply a thin layer of laminate sealant over the entire surface of the countertop. Make sure to cover all edges and corners. Wait for the sealant to dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Apply additional coats (optional): Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you may need to apply additional coats of sealant. If so, wait for the first layer to dry completely before applying the next layer.
  4. Wipe excess sealant: After the final layer, use a clean cloth to wipe away any excess sealant. Make sure to get into all the crevices, corners and edges for a neat finish.
  5. Wait for drying: Let the sealant properly dry before using your countertop. This may take anywhere from a few hours to a day. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time.

By following these steps, you can seal your laminate countertop and prevent future swelling. Over time, however, sealant can wear away, so it is a good idea to regularly check and reapply sealant as necessary. Preventive measures like this can save you the time, money, and frustration of dealing with a swollen laminate countertop.

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