Help please! Buckling veneer

Oct 28th 2015


I have a problem with some 3M peel and stick veneer. The veneer is not just coming loose and bubbling. It seems to be buckling as if the veneer is absorbing moisture and buckling like a hardwood floor that has been flooded. If you could see the back edge of the veneer where I trimmed it off with a router after application you would see a small over hang as if the veneer is growing in width.

History and install method: It’s 3M hickory veneer and is applied to the melamine gable ends of a cabinet. I thoroughly sanded the melamine with an ROS and cleaned the surface with lacquer thinner after sanding and just before applying the veneer. Now here is where I may have made an error that caused the problem: I used a plastic laminate roller to apply the veneer while the instruction clearly stated not to use a roller but a wide flat paddle to press the veneer to the substrate.

Finish schedule: one coat of Zinsser Seal coat followed by two coats of Fuhr’s 375 (water based pre-cat lacquer). The owner of the house where these cabinets are installed went on a 6-7 week vacation and found the buckling veneer when she returned. During that time, the house was neither heat or cooled. The furnace was shut off and in my region, air conditioning is not normally used in housing.

My questions are: Where did I go wrong? Was it the product? Was the problem from rolling it on instead of pressing it on as the instruction said? Is there a better way to veneer over melamine? Any and all thought would be appreciated.


Most of what you did in the application of the veneer is fine. The only thing we could point to would be rolling the veneer with a jay roller versus burnishing it down with a scraper.

The veneer, just like hardwood, can and will swell with an increase in ambient moisture. We would have to say that, in some way, this contributed to the problem as well. We wonder if your veneer had enough time to acclimate to your climate before you used it. It is normal to allow veneer 24 to 48 hours to adjust to your shop environment and, even better yet, to the conditions in it’s final application. Other than these observations, we can’t pinpoint where things went wrong. Let me know if anything else comes to mind and always feel free to call us with more specifics.

Oakwood Veneer Tech Support

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