If your conception of laminate countertops hovers around outdated notions of fake-looking stone and surfaces that scratch easily, you may want to investigate the newest family of laminates.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 are finding their way into more homes.
These 10 kitchens will show you an entirely new way to look at laminate, and why it's becoming such a staple.
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Should laminate countertops mimic stone? Not always. Though graphics are sharper and 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 countertop to contrast 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
Calming gray laminate countertops grace the kitchen of this San Francisco home, designed by Fougeron Architecture. 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. It's the perfect blending of old and new.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 these countertops.
Home and lifestyle bloggers Drew and Vanessa wanted to have pops of bold yellow in their kitchen. The most suitable color 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
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 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Wood Grain Laminate
When you install wood-style 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 lag behind. However, wood-grain options still occupy 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 other laminates appear fake.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 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, and 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 7 of 10 below.
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Square Edge Modern
Perfectly crafted 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 evolved considerably. 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 they provide the interesting geometry that complements contemporary homes.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
The countertop in this eat-in kitchen from Alvin Wayne 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 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 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Vanilla is fine in ice cream but as a description for your kitchen counter. 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.
If you're someone who is skeptical of the durability of laminate counters, over a year after the installation, Chelsea was happy to report that her selection exceeded her expectations, with minimal wear and tear.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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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. While 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.
If you don't want typical square edges, one do-it-yourself alternative is to purchase decorative edging, such as Formica's IdealEdge. Decorative trim in popular profiles like bullnose and ogee adhere with polyvinyl acetate (PVA), a slower curing adhesive than contact cement. It adds a slight expense but can be a worthwhile investment.