If I have a 2x4' piece of regular plywood, is there any laminate material that I can glue on top of it to achieve the smoothness of MDF board or cheap kitchen counter tops? I was thinking something that comes in rolls like wallpaper that is either self-adhesive or that I can glue using contact cement or wood glue.

I'm not sure if "lamination" is the correct word -- I am essentially just looking to achieve a smooth surface that I can wipe off with a damp cloth that is smooth (and not rough like plywood).

  • This is why plastic laminate exists. Anything much thinner won't span the small imperfections in the plywood when in use, leaving tears, worn spots, etc. Is there some reason you're avoiding the obvious and established solution? – isherwood Apr 2 '18 at 14:24
  • I am not avoiding it -- what gives you that impression? I am not aware it exists -- was asking for product to meet my needs without any restrictions – amphibient Apr 2 '18 at 14:59
  • The fact that plastic laminate is ubiquitous gives me that impression. :) Maybe it was a bad assumption on my part that folks are familiar. – isherwood Apr 2 '18 at 15:04
  • We all do. Like when you assumed "regular plywood" has any real meaning. :) I'll assume BC grade in your case. – isherwood Apr 2 '18 at 15:52

Lamination is a valid term to use in your application. Countertops are often laminated with Formica™ but I would not consider it to be a product to be rolled on in a manner similar to wallpaper.

I tossed a search to the world wide interweb for "thin laminate" and found a product I was unaware existed.

It's called cabinet veneer sheet and is produced and sold in various thicknesses and with various patterns. I've seen figures for 1/32" thickness with paper backing (implying self-adhesive) and poly backing, again self-adhesive.

One would expect that you've sanded the plywood prior to application and used a tack cloth or other method to remove sawdust. Read and follow all label directions to get the best bond possible.

cabinet veneer sheet

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  • This type of product is usually applied to particle board or MDF, which won't have the kind of surface imperfections that plywood often does. Also, it's not intended for horizontal surfaces that have weight and pressure applied on a regular basis, but for sidewalls, etc. I'd expect it to show damage relatively quickly in the OP's use case. – isherwood Apr 2 '18 at 15:51
  • It might qualify in his use case, a smooth surface he can wipe off with a damp cloth, but if there's going to be objects placed on it, certainly it will show wear. Ideally, the "thin laminate" search option will find something durable enough if durability is added to the requirements. – fred_dot_u Apr 2 '18 at 15:54

Really the only solution that you'd apply as a sheet for a surface wear layer is plastic laminate. It's installed using contact adhesive, where both surfaces are coated and allowed to dry before placement. Plywood isn't ideal as a substrate, so any checking or other significant imperfections should be filled and sanded first.

You then use a router to trim the edges flush or create a bevel or other profile in the edge of the substrate.

Plastic laminate is available in flat or rolled sheets at home improvement stores, and isn't terribly expensive. That said, fully prepared countertops in rough sizes also aren't that expensive if you're not too fussy about color and pattern.

Anything lighter will not last a satisfactorily long time, in my estimation.

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