There are many reasons that laminate countertops are among the most popular of any materials. We explore those reasons and give you all the information you need to determine if laminate is the best choice for your home.
This laminate countertop guide takes an in-depth look at:
- Laminate kitchen countertop features
- Pros and cons of laminate countertops
- Laminate countertop price per square foot
- FAQs for laminate kitchen countertops
We’ve produced countertop buying guides for all of the most popular countertop types. They’re helpful resources for comparing important details about the materials you’re most interested in considering for your kitchen renovation.
Introduction to Laminate Countertops
As you know, to laminate something is to cover one material with a protective, often plastic, layer. Laminate kitchen countertops start with a core made from particle board, plywood, medium density fiberboard (MDF) or oriented strand board (OSB) or sometimes several layers of these materials.
The core is then covered or laminated with a tough plastic surface composed of one or more layers of durable material. The plastic is bonded to the board for permanence.
One of the main advantages of plastic laminate counters is that the plastic surface can be given almost any color or pattern, so your style options with laminate are the most numerous of any countertop material. These styles include coloring the laminate surface to look like granite, marble or other more expensive material.
Laminate Countertops Wear and Durability
The surface of the best laminate kitchen countertops are very tough, so they wear well when a few basic precautions are taken such as keeping excessive heat away from them. The plastic is non-porous, so it cleans up quickly and is very resistant to stain. In most cases, homeowners replace laminate counters because they are simply ready for a change rather than the countertops being worn out.
Laminate Countertops Advantages and Disadvantages
There are pros and cons of plastic laminate countertops worth considering. Here’s an overview of the good and bad of laminate that you can use to compare with what we say in our guides about your other favorite options.
Laminate Countertop Pros – Plastic Laminate:
- Is available in a wonderful array of colors, blends, patterns and textured surfaces to look and feel like natural stone
- Resists stains
- Is non-porous, so is safer for food preparation than porous materials that might harbor bacteria
- Countertop technology has improved, so the surfaces are more durable than ever
- Cleans up quickly with a damp cloth or mild soap and water
- Seams are quite easily concealed compared with natural stone
- Offers an attractive combination of good looks and affordability
Laminate Countertop Cons – Laminate:
- Is among the least-resistant countertop materials to heat, so caution must be taken with hot pans, grease splatters, hot hair tools, etc.
- Can be scratched fairly easily with sharp objects, so a cutting board and caution should always be used when preparing food
- Repair to plastic laminate chips, cracks and scratches is very difficult, so avoiding issues in the first place is essential
Food Preparation on Laminate Countertops
Our laminate pros and cons told the story of food preparation on this surface. It is ideal for kneading or rolling dough, rubbing seasoning into meat, making a pizza and similar processes. Because it doesn’t contain pores like natural stone countertops, it cleans up easily and resists stains very well.
On the other hand, using a cutting board for cutting and chopping is wise and will prevent damage to the plastic laminate surface. Trivets should be used for hot pots and pans. Hot pads might be sufficient too, but the best rule is to keep hot things away from plastic laminate kitchen countertop surfaces.
The Cost of Laminate Countertops
We’ve noted that this is among the least expensive countertop materials. Some tile costs less but will be quite a bit more expensive to install. Granite, marble, solid surface, porcelain, stainless steel and reclaimed wood are among the many materials more costly than laminate.
You will find good/better/best grades of laminate from top brands like Wilsonart and Formica. Expect your costs for the plastic laminate material to be:
- Laminate Kitchen Countertops: $12 to $50 per square foot depending on many factors we explore in our Laminate Countertop Price Guide. Most laminate countertop falls between $20 and $38 per square foot. As with all countertop materials, you tend to get what you pay for.
Are Plastic Laminate Countertops Right for you?
You’ll love laminate counters if you:
- Prefer a material that is easy to clean
- Have small children, so spills and messes are common
- Enjoy preparing food by hand and want a surface that is easy to clean
- Are willing to use a cutting board and keep hot items off the countertop surface
- Want affordable kitchen countertops
- Plan to move in a few years and want to update the kitchen without investing too much
FAQ for Laminate Countertops
Here are answers to common questions we get about laminate kitchen countertops.
What colors are available in plastic laminate countertops?
Since the laminate surface is plastic that can be tinted, you’ll find a pleasing selection of laminate colors across the spectrum.
What about natural stone patterns in laminate?
Many plastic laminate countertop styles are made to look like natural stone with faux veining, shading and hues found in granite and marble. When given a textured surface, the resemblance and feel is even closer.
Can I install my laminate kitchen countertops?
These are among the easiest countertop materials to install, and there is less money at stake if you damage a slab and have to replace it. However, it’s difficult to achieve a professional look if you don’t have good experience installing countertops.
What factors affect installation cost?
The more turns, cutouts and features such as a peninsula the countertop has, the more installation will cost. The best way to get the lowest laminate countertop installation estimates is to get written estimates from at least three contractors in your area that know they are competing for your business.
How are laminate countertops cleaned?
Cleanup is easy with a damp cloth, mild soap and water or a basic kitchen cleaner like Formula 409, Lysol or Windex.
How long do laminate countertops last?
Expect 10-20 years of durable good looks and performance from your countertops when you take care not to cut, scratch, gouge or scorch them.
What are the top laminate kitchen countertop brands?
They include Formica, Wilsonart, Belanger, Pionite, Nevamar and Arborite, though some less-known brands are worth a look.
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