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If your conception of laminate countertops hovers around outdated notions of fake-looking stone and surfaces that scratch easily, you may want to investigate the newest family of laminates. With improved graphics, longer-lasting surfaces, and better edging techniques, laminate countertops have come of age and are rightly finding their way into more homes.
Should laminate countertops mimic stone? Not always. Though graphics are sharper and images more photo-realistic, laminate can look fantastic, too when displaying solid colors. For the Danish design house Reform, designer Christina Meyer Bengtsson uses a solid black laminate countertop as a counterpoint to the other laminate surfaces in the room: multi-colored kitchen cabinets adorned with raw, untreated brass fixtures.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Relaxing gray laminate countertops grace the kitchen of this San Francisco home, designed by Fougeron Architecture. It is the perfect blending of old and new. The exterior is a classic creamy-white Victorian home. Inside, volumes of space open up with interior glass walls, a gleaming stainless steel refrigerator, and generously spaced kitchen laminate countertops.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Can you use an undermount sink with laminate countertops? Traditionally, this has not been possible. But more recently, with high-pressure laminates and waterproof rolled edges, undermount sinks can be successfully and safely bonded to the bottom of laminate countertops.
Home and lifestyle bloggers Drew and Vanessa wanted to have pops of bold yellow in their kitchen. The most suitable color to use as a background to complement the yellow was a cool, relaxing gray. This Wilsonart Pearl Soapstone laminate forms all of the counters in their kitchen, including a sizable kitchen island.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Vanilla is fine in ice cream but not when it describes your kitchen countertops. That's how Chelsea, of the popular home blog Two Twenty-One, felt about the state of her kitchen when she purchased it. Flash-forward six years later and she still had those "plain vanilla countertops." So she spent six months researching laminate countertops until she landed on one that felt just right: Formica Argento Romano.
The experience taught her three valuable lessons about laminate countertops that everyone should know:
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
- Laminate countertops tend to cost about a quarter of the cost of natural stone countertops.
- When you have a lot of kitchen countertop space to be covered, cost becomes an even more pressing issue. Chelsea had 55 square feet that she needed to cover.
- Keep your kitchen remodel, including your choice of counters, in line with your neighborhood. Otherwise, you might tank your home's resale value. Chelsea lives in a "starter home neighborhood," as she puts it. In a neighborhood like that, you would never see a return on a monster-sized investment in super-premium granite or quartz countertops.
05 of 10
Kitchen laminate countertops go high-end in this contemporary remodel. Because the structure began as a barn, the ceilings pitch extremely high, imparting a greater sense of space to the tiny 100-square-meter footprint. Nest Architects took full advantage of the tall ceilings by hanging a bank of pendant lights from the ceiling's peak.
Also, Nest proportioned the laminate countertops and the pendant fixture so that they parallel each other in length and width, for a kind of neat vertical symmetry. The undermount double-basin stainless steel sink makes it easier to wipe down the counters.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Wood Grain Laminate
When you install wood-look kitchen laminate countertops, you get the warmth of wood with the convenience, ease, and hygienic nature of laminate surfacing, like the countertops featured in this kitchen designed by Palazzo Kitchens and Design.
As stone-look laminate countertops have skyrocketed in popularity, wood styles lagged behind. Wood-grain laminate still occupies a modest footprint in the collections of major laminate manufacturers. If you want wood, consider premium laminates, like Wilsonart HD and Formica 180fx. Not only are the graphics more realistic, the larger-scale imaging techniques greatly reduce the repetitive patterning that makes many of the wood-look laminates appear fake.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Like a chameleon, a laminate surface can adapt itself to practically any environment. For this inner-city townhouse, Calgary, Alberta's Kerri Ann Thomas wanted the kitchen to have an urban, industrial look: metal, concrete, warehouse lights with Edison bulbs. So for the kitchen island, she chose a laminate countertop with an edgy concrete appearance. Galvanized steel plumbing pipes support the ends and complete the industrial look.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Square Edge Modern
Perfectly built and exquisitely maintained for over five decades, this vintage home built by Illinois architect Jack Viks, featured on the blog Plastolux, demonstrates the long-lasting beauty of laminate countertops. Square countertop edges were the only game in town before the advent of edge-rolling.
Laminate countertop edge choices have considerably evolved. Complicated edges such as bevels, bullnoses, and ogees became possible with improved post-forming techniques. Before long, rolled edges ruled the world of laminate. But today, squared edges have been migrating back into kitchens, since squared edges provide the cool geometry that complements contemporary homes.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
The laminate countertop in this Montreal home's eat-in kitchen from Boiseries Dandurand continues to the edge, then plummets straight down to the hardwood floor. This technique is called a waterfall effect.
Waterfall kitchen countertops are pure luxury. Using very expensive materials meant for cooking merely as a decorative surface is hardly cost-effective. Natural stone and quartz countertop surfaces tend to be best used horizontally, not vertically.
This illustrates another benefit of using lower-cost countertop materials such as laminate. Running the laminate down the side is far less cost-prohibitive than with more expensive materials.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Can you install your own kitchen laminate countertop? Of course: pick up pre-laminated slabs at your nearest home center, haul them home, and install them. That's how most people think of laminate self-installation. Jennifer, at the craft blog The Craft Patch, had a different idea. She and her husband decided to build their laminate counters entirely from scratch. Briefly, it's a process that works this way:
- Build a solid base out of medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
- Cut out rough dimensions for the laminate.
- Glue laminate strips to the sides with contact cement and roll smooth.
- Cut the laminate edge excess with a router.
- Add contact cement to the countertop surface.
- Cover the glued surface with dowel rods placed every four inches.
- Lay laminate on top of the dowel rods, position it, then slowly remove the dowels.
- Roll flat the countertop surface.
- Route off excess laminate from the edges.
- Use a metal file to smooth down the edges.
If you don't like square edges, one do-it-yourself alternative is to purchase decorative edging, such as Formica's IdealEdge. Decorative edging in popular profiles like bullnose and ogee adhere with polyvinyl acetate (PVA), a slower curing adhesive than contact cement.