A.Merrill Glos, engineer at Formica Corp., responds: The most common cause of bubbling laminate is dimensional incompatibility between the laminate and the substrate. To prevent the problem, the substrate and the laminate must be compatible — they must respond to humidity changes by expanding and contracting at the same rates — and they must both be acclimated to the indoor environment before they are bonded.

If the laminate is dry and the particleboard is wet, the laminate will bubble when the laminate grows and the substrate either shrinks or stays the same size. It takes laminate about two days to acclimate, if air can get to both sides of the material. For a piece of 3/4-inch particleboard substrate, it takes about a week. The best substrate is...

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