Replacing Corroded Metal Trim on a Laminate Countertop

Scott Gibson

I have an old Formica kitchen countertop. Built into this top, on the left of the sink, is a glass plate about 1/4 inch thick, 20 inches long and 18 inches wide with a metal rim going around it. It looks like the rim to a metal sink. I'm guessing the glass plate is a hot plate, but the metal rim has rusted away in some spots. Would you know where I can get a new rim? Or should I try to make my own?

There is at least one source for the metal trim once used on laminate countertops. Try New York Metal in Astoria, N.Y. (718-726-8000, www.newyorkmetal.com).

The company has an extensive online directory of metal trim, and a friendly staff that can point you in the right direction. If you call, ask for George Nussenbaum, who was described to me as the "guru of metal." He's apparently been around for a long time and should have a good idea of what you need.

Assuming you can find trim with the right profile (and there's no guarantee you can) you still have to remove the glass and take out the old trim. And here's the rub. It's possible that the trim extends beneath the edge of the laminate, which complicates its removal.

Another option is to remove the glass, cut a new and larger recess into the countertop, then buy a new pieces of glass (or tile) to fit. If the new hotplate fits in the recess snugly, you could skip the trim entirely. A very thin bead of caulk would keep water and debris from finding its way into the seam.

To do this neatly, you'd probably need to make yourself a template of the right size and use a bearing-guided router bit to make the cut. You have to make the opening large enough so the router bit does not strike any metal trim that happens to be concealed under the laminate. And even then, there may be concealed screw heads or nails that the original installer used to secure the counter substrate to the cabinet.

So I'd approach this very cautiously. If you're not comfortable with this level of intervention, hire someone to do it for you.

Plastic laminate is a very hard-wearing surface but maybe it's time you thought about replacing your countertops completely. If the trim is worn out, the rest of the surface may also be due for retirement.

You have lots of options. If you want to stick with laminate and recreate the retro look you apparently have, New York Metal sells a product called "slip-in cove moulding" plus various Tee-nosings that would help. If you buy the trim in stainless steel you wont' have to worry about it rusting.

I wish the solution were less complicated, but sometimes getting things apart is harder than putting them back together. I think the trick here is removing the glass and the rusty trim without damaging the rest of the countertop.

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