Laminate Kitchen countertops were all the rage in the 1950′s & 60′s and remain a common and popular choice in most homes today. It is a versatile and inexpensive product which is durable, affordable and can be easily maintained; A suitable choice for people who are hungry for design choice but reluctant to throw all their money into a new countertop.
Color & Design opportunities with Laminate Countertops
Laminate kitchen countertops are available in a multitude of colors and styles. Like solid surface, laminate is a manufactured product and can be infused with hundreds of different colors. It can come in several finishes and textures and can easily resemble faux wood, granite or marble.
The versatility of laminate is apparent in its texturing and finishing’s. Matte, Glossy and granular are all popular choices and the manufacturers are always looking at different textures and color combinations to suite today’s modern, sexy kitchens.
Most Laminates have their color built all the way through aiding in the disguise of minor scratching.
How much do Laminate Kitchen Countertops Cost?
Laminate Countertops can be a very inexpensive and relatively easy way to freshen up an otherwise outdated kitchen space. Pricing can start as low as $6 – $10 sq ft. if purchasing it by the sheet to be installed over an existing workspace. This is a great option for the do it yourself er, but has its limitations.
For the molded or beveled edge or custom design laminate countertops range between $24-$40 sq ft.
For installed laminate kitchen countertops, expect to pay anywhere from $40- $65 sq ft. The higher price will usually include all removal of your old countertops, plumbing and certified work. The bonus to professional installation is you get a better seal between pieces that can be less visible as well. Many local hardware retailers will offer a great rate on installation, but be aware that this does not include removal of older countertops and any plumbing associated with sinks, drains or tubs.
The Durability of Laminate Kitchen Countertops
Laminate kitchen countertops are a viable option for those looking for a durable and inexpensive solution for their renovation requirements. Laminate is fairly durable but is also prone to experience some problems with regards to moisture, sharp objects and high heat.
- Scratch Resistance – Laminate is relatively resistant to minor scratches but is prone to chipping on its edges with abuse. Always use a cutting board and try to never use sharp objects directly on its surface.
- Strength – Again laminate is a very strong and durable product and if well maintained laminate countertops can last a lifetime.
- Water Resistance – Laminate countertops are relatively moisture resistant, about 6/10. The problems lie in water pooling near edges and thus dissolving the glues and resins that bind the materials together.
- Heat Resistance – Laminate countertops are moderately heat resistant but it is advisable to use a pan cover or a protective device underneath hot pots and pans as high heat will cause considerable damage to its’ surface. Avoid Temperatures over 150 Degrees.
- Maintenance – The versatility of laminate countertops is apparent in its maintenance. With Proper care and due diligence, a laminate countertop can last for decades. (Note: Grandma’s House)
All you really need to use is mild soap and water to remove most stains. Avoid harsh abrasives or scrub pads to avoid surface discoloration.
Be sure to use baking soda and water for difficult stains and avoid dropping large objects on or near edges and laminate will last you for years.
Construction & Installation of Laminate Countertops
Laminate is a bonded paper and particle board core product. It is mixed material and impregnated with resin and bonded with high heat and pressure to give it a solid appearance. It is available in sheet form, molded with finished edges, either rounded or squared and available by linear foot with several finishing options. It can come beveled, with wood or brass inlay and available with or without backsplash.
Sheet Laminate can only be cut finished with a square edge. So DIY ‘ers can only create square edging.
Rounded, molded or beveled edges need to be produced directly from the manufacturer as they require a heat and pressure treatment.
The “do it Yourself ers”, love laminate for its ease of installation. With the proper tools, a little skill and good pre-planning, laminate countertops can be a snap to install. If you want it done professionally, many local hardware chains and retailers offer a great installation package. They will come to your home and pre-measure your space for you and then arrive with product in hand ready to install. (Remember to find out about removal and plumbing.) Moisture is a big factor with any installation so please use sealants wherever necessary.
It was thought for a long time that you should only use drop in or self-rimming sinks with laminate kitchen countertops, but a you can now use a counter seal product that allows for the upscale and desirable under mount sink to now be a viable option for your surface.
Laminate Countertops, the Environment & Your Health
Laminate kitchen countertops are not a particularly green product but you can make some choices that are a little more ecologically friendly.
The health impact of your laminate countertops is related to its tendency to scratch and chip. Bacteria will hide wherever it can and scratches and chips are a breeding ground for these germs. Use a non-toxic cleaner regularly and keep food and drink stains off the counter. With regular maintenance, your laminate countertop can be sanitary for its whole life.
With its multitude of design options and relative inexpensive installation and replacement, laminate kitchen countertops can truly be a sexy alternative for your home. You can change the appearance of your kitchen to match any new trends simply and inexpensively. It is versatile and can look great when used with the right accessories, back splashes and trims. It may not be your sexiest choice out there but for the bang for your buck, it can’t really be beat.
The Martini Factor
Laminate kitchen countertops are relatively glassware friendly and resist stains to point. Keep it dry and free from moisture and with proper maintenance they can stand up to your most strident cocktailing needs.