As I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to achieve a tight joint is to use the thinnest adhesive suitable for the job. Another way is to properly fit and align the pieces before mixing the adhesive. The last and most crucial way is to clamp the pieces snugly (not too tight to avoid breaking or cracking them).
1. Cut top and laminating strips slightly over-sized by 1/4 in. to 1/2 in.
2. Place top face down on a smooth, soft, flat, and clean surface. Taping the polished face at the edge to be laminated is a good method to keep the laminating adhesive from possibly damaging the surface of the stone.
3. Fit laminate strips on the bottom of the top and check for gaps. If there are any gaps, grind down the high spots until the pieces fit together tightly (no polished surfaces). Abrade any polished surfaces. Be sure to wear the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment).
4. Once the pieces fit tightly, then clean the pieces and allow enough time for them to dry thoroughly.
5. When the pieces are completely dry, then prepare clamps for holding the strips together. I recommend at least one clamp for every one foot of lamination (some people use one clamp for every four inches). It is a good idea to place protective pads between the stone and the clamps.
6. Select your adhesive. Use the thinnest consistency suitable for lamination (not a penetrant).
7. Check the product's MSDS to determine the PPE necessary for this task. Be sure to put on your PPE before beginning to work with the adhesives.
8. Color and mix your adhesive according to the directions supplied by the manufacturer.
9. Apply the adhesive to the section of the top to be laminated and the laminate strip.
10. Put the laminate strip in place and align with the top before clamping.
11. Place clamps at the predetermined desired intervals and tighten them until snug. Over tightening can cause broken laminate strips or chips in the stone. Some people use plastic or metal strips on the face and bottom to more evenly distribute the pressure from the clamps.
12. Allow the adhesive to cure for the time recommended by the manufacturer.
13. Once you are sure that your adhesive has cured, then remove the clamps.
14. Trim the area laminated by 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. (the amount you added in step 1).
15. Remove the protective tape from the face after trimming.
About the Author: Frederick M Hueston, columnist and author, is director of the National Training Center for the Stone & Masonry Trades (NTC) located in Asheville, N.C. NTC offers hands-on training to industry professionals on topics ranging from basic fabrication techniques to on-site repairs. NTC's website can be found at www.ntc-stone.com.