Before You Buy - Laminate

Laminate

Before you buy:

  • The primary reasons to choose laminate countertops over other tops include: Receiving a good quality product at an affordable price, its ease of maintenance and its hard, impact resistant finish.
  • Due to the reasonable cost of laminate, they are a desirable option, but will not last as long as other solid surface type surfaces.  However, some see this as an advantage.  Due to the lower cost, the look of a kitchen can be changed and updated more frequently.
  • Laminate countertops have been the most affordable countertop choice for decades.
  • You can also chip laminate and while it cannot be repaired completely, it is far less expensive to replace this top than other countertop material options.
  • Laminate tops are easy to install and durable.
  • Eventually, it is possible the seams will show and dirt and bacteria can become trapped over time.  If a seam is located close to a sink, the seam can become unsightly if water is allowed to soak in to the product.  Keep excessive moisture away from seams.
  • Laminate
  • Laminate countertops like those made from granite and engineered stone have seams where the countertop sections meet.  A good fabricator can make a laminate top seam almost disappear. 
  • Countertops come in to direct contact with food.  The less porous the top, the less likelihood bacteria will be trapped in the surface.  Laminate performs well in this application, because it is a non-porous product.
  • Laminate is ideal in high use areas such as: Craft/Hobby rooms, Garages, Children’s rooms, Libraries, Family rooms, Cabinets, tables and Snack bars.
  • Laminate has been very popular for children’s rooms due to the wide variety of design options and the safety afforded by rounded custom edges on tables and countertops.  The product also works well on walls and doors.  Again, it is a non-porous surface so it is resistant to bacteria.

Product Information - Laminate

Laminate
  • Laminate is constructed in various thickness grades, depending on the purpose they serve.  Horizontal grade is one of the thickest laminates at .039” and is designed for flat, high-impact and heavy use countertops.
  • Vertical grade is the thinnest grade at .028” and is often used for low impact vertical installations such as backsplashes.
  • There are two options of backsplashes.  If the material has been molded in to a post-form backsplash, there will be no seam and the backsplash will be “rounded”.  The second option is a backsplash that is built at the home site and will be set on the back of the countertop.  This backsplash will have a “square” edge and a seam will be created.
  • Sinks are typically top mounted or deck mounted.  The sinks can be a variety of finishes, such as stainless steel, cast iron and acrylic. 
  • Under mounted sinks are not recommended as it’s difficult to protect against water penetration.  Once water penetrates the particle board base of this product, it will swell and deteriorate.
  • There are virtually hundreds of colors to choose from when selecting laminate.  Almost any décor can be matched which is one of the reasons laminate countertops are so popular.
  • In addition, special finishes are available.  Typically, the cost is slightly higher on the specialty finishes.  The finishes include the looks of stone, wood, granite, marble and even leather. 
  • Laminate offers a variety of edge treatments.  There are two basic edges.  A straight edge is simply a strip of laminate applied to the front edge of the countertop.  There will be a thin seam visible in this application.
  • Since laminate is pliable when heated, it can be wrapped around plywood to create a rounded edge.  This edge is called a post-formed edge. 
  • There are two decorative edge treatments that are commonly used.  The standard beveled edge in which solid surface or wood can contrast with the laminate.   You can also use a contrasting laminate, such as a stone look, to apply to this beveled edge. 
  • A full front edge molding allows for a limitless range of options to choose.  The most commonly seen profile is called an ogee edge.  This is a double curved form made up of a concave and convex half that looks like the letter S.  It will appear seamless at inside corners and can be bent around a radius at the outside corners.  You can stain a wood ogee to match your cabinets, or insert a solid surface edge band.
  • You can add a metal or texture in the backsplash for a unique and different.  There are metals and textures made for this purpose and are typically available where the material will be selected.

Maintenance - Laminate

Laminate

Maintaining Laminate:

  • Decorative laminate patterns and colors are not consistent through the thickness of the product.  Therefore, scratches can occur.  Those scratches cannot be repaired. 
  • Since laminate countertops are non porous, they are bacteria resistant.  However, bacteria can invade the seamed areas. 
  • Laminate tops are easy to clean.  Spills like wine or juice come off with little or no effect if cleaned early.  Soap and water work well on these tops.  Or, there are over the counter products to remove more difficult stains.  Never use abrasive cleaners on laminate surfaces.
  • Expect normal wear and tear on laminate tops.  Heat will cause the most damage.  A scorch mark will appear if you set a hot pan on your countertop.  A general rule of thumb is too hot to set on your hand, then it’s probably too hot to sent directly on a laminate countertop.  Granite tops are more resistant to heat, but acid or vinegar can harm a granite top, making it necessary for the top to be resealed.  Not so with laminate countertops.
  • Laminate is a strong material, but it can be cut with a knife.  Knife cuts can go through the color layer, exposing the brown underlayment.  These types of cuts cannot be repaired.  Use cutting boards when cutting or slicking.
  • Since there will be seams on a laminate top, if allowed, water can infiltrate the seam which will become unsightly. 
  • Bacteria and dirt can become trapped in the seams, but not in the product itself.