Using Laminate on Your Countertops
Courtesy of Wilsonart
The most common kitchen countertop, laminate is a synthetic material made up of several layers: multiple sheets of kraft paper (like that used in grocery bags), a decorative paper and a melamine plastic coating. Though economical, laminate doesn't have the lasting power of stone; however, manufacturers like Wilsonart offer upgraded, high-wear surfaces with increased lifespan. A slightly more expensive alternative with no dark edges is solid-color laminate, which is made of a colored plastic throughout.
Quick tip: Working with a tight budget that won't allow for an expensive stone surface? Cover a small area of your kitchen, like an island, with your desired counter material, and use a complementary laminate as the main perimeter surface.
- Produced in hundreds of colors and patterns and a variety of finishes. Certain designs replicate the look of granite, solid surface, engineered stone and hardwood, among others, providing an in-demand look at an undemanding price.
- Easy upkeep.
- Impact resistant.
- A coved design, where the laminate eliminates the countertop’s back edge by curving slightly up the wall, makes for easy cleanup.
- Cost savings, due to reduced labor and more inexpensive material compared to other surfaces.
- Layers make it difficult to repair chips.
- Hot items and water seeping into seams may cause layers to break apart.
- Kraft paper leaves a dark line at the edges, unless it runs wall to wall or is trimmed with a decorative material such as wood or stainless steel.
- You’ll need to use cutting boards.
- You can’t clean it with abrasives.
According to Wilsonart, a damp cloth and mild soap should be adequate for most spills. For more resistant stains, create a paste from baking soda and a mild household cleaner, and give a brisk 15-20 strokes to the area using a nylon bristle brush. If these methods don't work, a cotton ball saturated with undiluted household bleach can be rubbed on the stain for up to two minutes, though Wilsonart warns that the surface must be thoroughly rinsed with water and dried, and prolonged exposure to bleach will cause discoloration. Always follow your manufacturer's specific instructions.
Expect to pay about $10-$45 per square foot.