Use Laminate on 1/2" Thick Plywood? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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Use Laminate on 1/2" Thick Plywood?

Hi everyone,

Is it okay to put laminate on 1/2" plywood?

These parts are for the back of a four player video arcade machine we are manufacturing. Each panel is about 51" x 25", and the back has three of them. Due to wanting to make it a bit lighter, we are switching over to 1/2" plywood from 3/4" plywood. I was disappointed that on our 3/4" plywood the laminate has bubbled up a bit. We used contact cement per the instructions. The brand was what Home Depot had and the wood was from there as well (I don't remember which type but was the sanded stuff). I am concerned that the 1/2" plywood will have too much flex in it and cause the laminate to bubble up. The 1/2" wood I am using is the Sande plywood from Home Depot. Each machine will have about $150 worth of laminate on it and I will be ordering for about 10 machines so..... I am not wanting to invest all that to find out that the laminate is just going to bubble up. I was going to order Formica glossy white and Formica matte black for laminate. I prefer to not paint the panels due to the amount of labor needed, less quality looking, more cost, and it will scratch and wear off. I am open to other thoughts.

Your advice is appreciated.

Regards,
Shane
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post #2 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 09:42 AM
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You need to provide construction details for us to understand if the 1/2" plywood will flex.

George
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post #3 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSkoolFool View Post
Hi everyone,

Is it okay to put laminate on 1/2" plywood?

These parts are for the back of a four player video arcade machine we are manufacturing. Each panel is about 51" x 25", and the back has three of them. Due to wanting to make it a bit lighter, we are switching over to 1/2" plywood from 3/4" plywood. I was disappointed that on our 3/4" plywood the laminate has bubbled up a bit. We used contact cement per the instructions. The brand was what Home Depot had and the wood was from there as well (I don't remember which type but was the sanded stuff). I am concerned that the 1/2" plywood will have too much flex in it and cause the laminate to bubble up. The 1/2" wood I am using is the Sande plywood from Home Depot. Each machine will have about $150 worth of laminate on it and I will be ordering for about 10 machines so..... I am not wanting to invest all that to find out that the laminate is just going to bubble up. I was going to order Formica glossy white and Formica matte black for laminate. I prefer to not paint the panels due to the amount of labor needed, less quality looking, more cost, and it will scratch and wear off. I am open to other thoughts.

Your advice is appreciated.

Regards,
Shane
Plywood isn't the best material for laminate unless you put a backer sheet on the reverse side. Having laminate on one side tends to make plywood warp. Just covering one side particleboard is a better material for laminate. It's one of the reasons that formica countertop manufacturers use particleboard to make them.

As far as the laminate bubbling up I don't think that had anything to do with the plywood. It sounds like either there was a problem with the cement or it wasn't allowed to dry long enough. You can apply contact cement too thin and cause adhesion problems. If it's a water based cement those are very often problematic. Sometimes you have to use two or three coats letting it dry well before it will work and then it's not as good as a solvent based cement. The temperature and humidity can also screw up contact. On a very humid day a solvent based cement can glaze over with water to where the cement won't stick. What kind of roller did you use to roll the laminate? It takes a pretty good amount of pressure to make laminate stick well. Using a rubber mallet often comes up short. Too much area of the laminate is often missed using a mallet.
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post #4 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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All three panels are mounted on the back of the cabinet. The cabinet is made out of fiberglass: 75" tall and 52" wide. The lower 1/2" thick back panel will be permanently mounted in with construction adhesive and screws in the back. The mid and upper 1/2" thick back panels will be installed with screws and t-nuts into 3/4" wood that is fiberglassed onto the cabinet. Those two panels will be able to be removed so customers can access the inside back of the cabinet. When the arcade machine is normally used the panels will not be stressed. When the machine is moved on a dolly there will be some force on the wood maybe causing some flex but not a tremendous amount. Potentially the same when the panels are removed and installed. Shown is a photo of the back.



http://s1074.photobucket.com/user/Ol...vjedz.jpg.html

Last edited by OldSkoolFool; 05-05-2018 at 10:08 AM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 10:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the thoughts Steve. Good to know about not being the best idea to put laminate on one side of plywood. I was originally going to use 3/4" MDF but that was just so heavy on the back. I did not really want to do particle board, especially in 1/2", as I figured it would be more likely to fall apart, get corners busted off when customers would take the panels on/off, soak up moisture, etc. 3/4" particle board I think would be too heavy for the back. So... I am wondering if I should do painting instead as I would really prefer to stick with the light weight 1/2" plywood.

The contact cement I used was DAP contact cement which I believe to be solvent based. I applied it liberally to both sides with a roller, waited 15-20 minutes for it to dry, was in a temperature controlled shop, and rolled over the whole surface with a 5" or so wide roller made for laminate installation. So.... I am not sure what happened there.
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSkoolFool View Post
Thanks for the thoughts Steve. Good to know about not being the best idea to put laminate on one side of plywood. I was originally going to use 3/4" MDF but that was just so heavy on the back. I did not really want to do particle board, especially in 1/2", as I figured it would be more likely to fall apart, get corners busted off when customers would take the panels on/off, soak up moisture, etc. 3/4" particle board I think would be too heavy for the back. So... I am wondering if I should do painting instead as I would really prefer to stick with the light weight 1/2" plywood.

The contact cement I used was DAP contact cement which I believe to be solvent based. I applied it liberally to both sides with a roller, waited 15-20 minutes for it to dry, was in a temperature controlled shop, and rolled over the whole surface with a 5" or so wide roller made for laminate installation. So.... I am not sure what happened there.
Having laminate on one side of the plywood you might put a thick coat of paint on the other side. It's because moisture can get to the reverse side and make is swell. We used to cover the back side of plywood with a backing material which was a very thin laminate material that is similar to melamine.

The Weldwood yellow contact cement, it doesn't get any better. I have a project in my house that has been holding for more than 40 years. Most contact manufacturers only warranty the cement for a year. Using a roller to apply the cement you need to use a texture roller. The rougher you can apply it the better. The texture is one of the reasons spraying cement is popular. When it's ready run your hand over it and see if any comes off on your skin. If it feels sticky or some comes off on your hand it's not ready. It should feel like the sheet is covered with rubber. Also after you apply the laminate be sure not to let the panel sit in the sun. The heat can cause vapors to build up under the laminate and bubble.
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve! Great info. Good to know that a texture roller works better with the contact cement. I will look into the Weldwood brand.
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-05-2018, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by OldSkoolFool View Post
Thanks Steve! Great info. Good to know that a texture roller works better with the contact cement. I will look into the Weldwood brand.
Weldwood should be the Dap contact cement you are using.
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