Laminate Kitchen Countertop
Water-resistant laminate surfaces are ideal near the sink. A new innovation, this countertop is compatible with a seamless integrated sink for easy cleanup. Shown: Luna Winter. Photo courtesy of Wilsonart International
This countertop chameleon looks like more expensive materials, from elegant marble to rich granite, at a great value. The practical surface is impervious to water and stands up to stains and scratches. It also comes in a wide range of colors, patterns and textures. Laminate is heat sensitive and requires a trivet beneath cookware and candles. The low price tag makes it ideal for homeowners seeking a new look or prepping a house to sell.
What Is It? Laminate is composed of a melamine plastic surface atop layers of paper and plastic resins.
Considerations When Choosing Laminate Countertops
Thickness, Overhangs and Edges. Laminate countertops have a standard thickness of an inch and a half, though fabricators can produce various thicknesses. Some homeowners prefer a thicker countertop to mimic stone. Standard overhang is an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half; longer overhangs are possible, but those longer than 6 inches may require additional support. Edge options abound, from standard (such as straight, waterfall and bullnose) to decorative (such as ogee and beveled) and even custom. For a decorative twist, laminate countertops also can be wrapped with a band of stainless steel, wood or solid surfacing.
Design Details. With laminate, edge options abound. While square or rolled edges are common, laminate can also be beveled or wrapped with a band of stainless steel, wood or solid surface for a twist on traditional.
Laminate has come a long way. Remember those visible seams? They can all but disappear with an experienced fabricatorand prefab laminate, custom-fit to your kitchen, eliminates the issue altogether. And for years, integrated sinkswith no lip for catching crumbswere reserved for stone and solid surfacing, but they are available for use with some laminate countertops. An extra cost applies, and professional installation is required.
Luxury Laminate. Thanks to manufacturing advances, laminate has gone luxurious. Newer styles more closely than ever mimic the look of high-end surfaces including marble, travertine, soapstone and slate. To achieve the realism, designers rely on new printing technology paired with premium finishes that feature subtle crevices, minute fissures and authentic veining that echo the surface of stone. Some even incorporate materials such as shell fragments and marine life.
Maintenance. Wipe the countertop with a soft cloth and warm water daily. Mild household cleansers are suitable. Wipe up spills immediately.
The Bottom Line. Laminate countertops are a stylish, versatile option for any kitchen. Ease of cleaning makes it great around the sink. Serious chefs may relegate it to lesser-utilized areas.