Best Types of Laminate Countertops


When it comes to choosing new countertops for your kitchen or bathroom, laminate is one of the most popular options. Laminate countertops, also known as plastic laminate countertops, are made from layers of kraft paper infused with melamine resin and fused under high heat and pressure. The resulting material is durable, affordable, easy to maintain, and available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and textures.

But not all laminate countertops are created equal. There are a few key factors to consider when selecting laminate countertops to ensure you choose the best option for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the pros and cons of laminate countertops, the different types and grades available, pricing, durability, maintenance, and more.

Whether you are upgrading your current kitchen or bath, building a new home, or renovating your investment property, read on to learn everything you need to know to choose the best laminate countertops to suit your project, lifestyle, and budget.

What Are the Benefits of Laminate Countertops?

Before diving into the different types, let’s first look at some of the overall benefits that make laminate a top choice for countertops:


Laminate countertops are one of the most budget-friendly countertop options available today. They offer a fraction of the cost of natural stone, quartz, solid surface, or granite while still providing an attractive, durable surface. Pricing for basic laminate countertops starts around $20-30 per linear foot installed.

Durable & Scratch-Resistant

Thanks to the fused melamine resin layer, laminate countertops stand up well to everyday wear and tear. The material is cut, impact, scratch, scuff, and heat resistant. Newer laminate styles also feature antimicrobial properties.

Easy Maintenance

Laminate surfaces just need occasional cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent to keep them looking like new. No need for resealing or special cleaners.

Range of Styles

From solid colors and patterns to woodgrains, marble, and stone looks, laminate offers endless design options to suit any kitchen or bath style. Custom laminate patterns are also available.

Renewable Resource

Laminate consists of a kraft paper base, which is made from renewable wood pulp. This makes it an eco-friendly countertop choice.

What Are the Drawbacks of Laminate Countertops?

While laminate certainly has its benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider as well:

Less Durable Than Stone

Laminate countertops are susceptible to chipping, cracking, or peeling from impact. Though resistant, they cannot withstand abuse as well as natural stone or quartz countertops. Proper cutting and prepping is also key during installation.

Vulnerable to Heat Damage

Excessive direct heat can damage laminate countertops. Always use heat trivets or hot pads when placing hot pots, pans, etc on the surface.

Seams Visible

The seams between laminate sheets may be visible on countertops, especially lighter solid color laminates, depending on installation quality.

Limited Recyclability

While the paper base is renewable, laminate countertops cannot be easily recycled like other surface materials due to the resins.

Not for Outdoor Use

Laminate countertops are designed for indoor use only and will warp or peel from outdoor exposure.

Keeping these potential weaknesses in mind can help you decide if laminate is the right choice for your particular kitchen or bath application. Proper installation is also key to maximizing the durability and minimizing seams.

Types of Laminate Countertops

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the different grades and categories of laminate countertops available:

Low Pressure Laminate (LPL)

LPL is the most affordable type of laminate countertop. It consists of a single sheet of laminate glued to a plywood or particle board substrate. The laminate layer is only 1/16″ thick.

While cost-effective, LPL also provides the lowest durability and performance. The thin laminate layer is prone to chipping and burns more easily. Low pressure laminate works best for light duty applications like laundry rooms, craft rooms, and office spaces.

Medium Pressure Laminate (MPL)

Offering better durability at a slightly higher price point, MPL countertops have a laminate layer ranging from 1/16″ to 1/8” thick glued to a plywood or particle board core.

The thicker laminate resists impact, scratches, and heat better than LPL. MPL works well for kitchens, bathrooms, and other general home use.

High Pressure Laminate (HPL)

HPL countertops provide the highest quality and durability. The laminate layer is 1/8” to 1/4” thick, making it remarkably impact and scratch resistant. It holds up beautifully even in busy kitchens.

Rather than glue, HPL laminate sheets are fused under high heat and pressure directly to a substrate, creating a more seamless surface. The thicker laminate also resists warping or deterioration from moisture.

HPL is the best choice where durability is key, including commercial spaces like restaurants, offices, labs, etc. It does come at a higher price point, but offers unmatched performance.

Post-Formed Laminate

Post-formed laminate countertops feature laminate wrapped over the front edge for a modern, streamlined look. The laminate self-edge eliminates seams between the countertop and edges. Post-forming works with either HPL or MPL.

This style works especially well for backsplashes and islands. Installation is also simpler without edge banding. Keep in mind that darker, solid color laminates show seams most on post-formed edges.

Chemical Resistant Laminate

For use around chemicals or in lab settings, chemical resistant laminate provides maximum protection. The special melamine resin formulation offers enhanced resistance to acids, alkalis, and other corrosive chemicals that can mar standard laminate.

Fire Resistant (FR) Laminate

Designed to reduce flame spread, fire resistant laminates meet or exceed flame spread standards for specific commercial building applications. The resin makeup resists burning to help minimize fire risk.

Laminate Countertop Pricing

The cost of your new laminate countertops will depend on a few key factors:

  • Grade/thickness – As outlined above, HPL is most expensive, followed by MPL and LPL.
  • Colors/patterns – Custom/premium colors and patterns cost more than standard options.
  • Edge styles – Post-formed edges or decorative edges add cost over standard flat edge banding.
  • Term of warranty – Longer warranty terms (10-12 years) have a higher price.
  • Installation – Complex projects or pro installation will have higher labor costs.

On average, you can expect to pay:

  • Low pressure laminate: $20-35 per linear ft, or $8-15 per sq. ft.
  • Medium pressure laminate: $30-50 per linear ft., or $10-20 per sq. ft.
  • High pressure laminate: $50-100+ per linear ft., or $15-30+ per sq. ft.

These prices include materials and fabrication. Installation costs around $40-100 per hour. High-end custom laminate with intricate edges or detailing can cost several hundred dollars per linear foot.

How to Choose the Best Laminate Countertops

Choosing the right laminate countertop for your needs comes down to a few key considerations:


Think about the amount of wear and tear your new countertops will need to handle. High traffic kitchens and bathrooms benefit from HPL’s unbeatable durability, while low use spaces like craft rooms can get by with basic LPL.

If you’ll be exposing your countertops to heat, moisture, or chemicals frequently, opt for a laminate made to withstand these conditions.


Do you want countertops that blend seamlessly into your home’s design, or make a statement? With the huge range of colors, patterns, and edge profiles, laminate offers endless possibilities.

Browse samples to find colors that coordinate with your cabinetry and flooring. Edge profiles like post-forming provide a streamlined look.


Laminate already provides an affordable alternative to stone and quartz. Decide how much you can spend to narrow down your grade options. Labor costs also impact the total price.


HPL grades offer the longest lifespan, retaining their durability and appearance for years before needing replacement. Lower pressure laminate has a shorter life expectancy of around 5-10 years.


Laminate’s paper base makes it more eco-friendly than many countertop materials. Opt for GREENGUARD or CARB 2 certified low VOC products for maximum sustainability.

Considering these factors will ensure you select the ideal laminate countertops for your particular space, needs, and budget.

Laminate Countertop Durability

One of the top selling points of laminate countertops is their renowned durability. Here is an overview of how laminate holds up long-term:

  • Impact resistance – Countertops take a beating from dropped cans, appliances, and kitchen tools. Laminate stands up well to impacts without cracking or chipping. HPL offers the highest impact resistance.
  • Scratch resistance – Cutting and prepping directly on laminate inevitably leads to scratches, but the melamine resin layer hides most marks well. Higher pressure grades are most scratch resistant.
  • Stain resistance – Spills happen, but laminate surfaces wipe clean easily. Stains are less likely to absorb compared to porous natural stone.
  • Heat resistance – While laminate can withstand typical heat exposure from cooking and baking, direct high heat can damage the resin surface. Use trivets and hot pads for hot pans.
  • Moisture resistance – Laminate holds up well against water due to its fused resin layer. HPL offers superior moisture resistance over lower pressure grades.
  • Chemical resistance – Standard laminate stands up moderately well against weak acids and alkalis thanks to the melamine resin makeup. Opt for specially formulated chemical resistant laminate when needed.
  • Abrasion resistance – The hardest grades of laminate stand up to heavy everyday wear and tear in high traffic areas, retaining their luster and color.

With proper care and maintenance, even low pressure laminate countertops can provide a durable surface for 5-10 years, while HPL grades last 15-20 years or longer.

Easy Maintenance for Laminate Countertops

To keep your laminate countertops looking like new and maximize their lifespan:

  • Use cutting boards rather than cutting directly on the laminate surface to prevent scratches and knife marks.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains setting in. Avoid letting liquids sit on joints where they can seep into the substrate.
  • Clean laminate using a damp cloth or sponge with mild soap and warm water. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • For stubborn stains, use a gentle household cleaner like Soft Scrub or Bar Keepers Friend.
  • Disinfect periodically with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution. Many new laminates have built-in antimicrobial protection.
  • Use heat trivets, mats, or hot pads when placing hot items from the oven, stove, or microwave. Never put hot cookware directly on laminate.
  • Inspect regularly for any cracks or damage developing along seams or edges. Catching issues early allows for easier repairs.
  • Reseal any exposed edges annually using a clear caulk. This prevents moisture ingress that could warp or lift laminate.

With proper care, cleaning, and maintenance, laminate countertops can stay looking like new for many years before needing replacement.

Laminate Countertop Repair Options

Despite laminate’s durability, chips, cracks, burns, lifted seams, and other damage can occur over time. Here are some repair options to fix common laminate countertop issues:

Touch Up Kits

For minor chips, cracks, or light scratches, touch up kits allow you to fill in the damaged area. After cleaning and lightly sanding the spot, simply apply colored putty with the included spatula and wipe away excess. Once dried, buff to blend the repaired area. Touch up kits are inexpensive and easy to apply. However, the color match is not always perfect.

Seam Adhesive

If seams or edges have lifted, an adhesive like Gorilla Wood Glue can re-secure them. Simply clean the area, run a bead of adhesive into the gap, clamp it tight, and wipe away any excess squeeze out after drying. Clamps help ensure a tight bond while the adhesive cures.

Heat Gun

For more pronounced scratches or gouges, a heat gun can minimize their appearance by re-melting the laminate resin. Set the heat gun on the lowest setting and gently wave across the damaged area until it smooths out. Take care not to burn or discolor the laminate. This works best for shallow surface damage.


Light scratches or roughness can often be sanded away. Use extra fine 150+ grit sandpaper and gently sand in the direction of the laminate grain until the blemish disappears. Finish by cleaning and polishing the sanded area. Take care not to sand through the laminate layer.

Professional Refinishing

For extensive damage or to achieve seamless spot repairs, professional laminate refinishers can buff out scratches, patch holes or cracks with color-matched epoxy, and make your countertops look like new again. This offers the best results, but comes at a higher cost than DIY repairs.

Full Replacement

Heavily damaged or lower quality laminate nearing the end of its lifespan usually needs complete replacement. While more expensive, new countertops can entirely transform the look of a dated kitchen or bath.

Knowing your repair options allows you to fix minor damage easily and maximize your investment in laminate countertops.

Frequently Asked Questions About Laminate Countertops

Looking to upgrade your kitchen or bath with new laminate countertops? Here are answers to some of the most common questions homeowners have about laminate:

How long do laminate countertops last?

With proper care, HPL laminate countertops can last 15-20 years or longer before needing replacement. Lower pressure laminate has a shorter lifespan of around 5-10 years.

Do laminate countertops add value to a home?

While not adding as much resale value as stone, quality laminate countertops can still recoup around 50% of their cost in added home value. They provide a cost-effective facelift.

Can you cut on laminate countertops?

It’s best to use a cutting board rather than cutting directly on laminate, as blades can scratch or nick the surface. However, minor cutting won’t significantly impair the countertop’s durability or appearance.

Are laminate countertops outdated?

While laminate has been around for decades, modern printing technology allows extraordinarily realistic wood, stone, and tile patterns. This enables laminate to mimic high-end surfaces at a fraction of the price, keeping it a relevant choice.

Do laminate countertops need to be sealed?

Unlike wood or natural stone, laminate does not require regular sealing. The resin layer creates an impermeable surface that resists moisture absorption without a sealant.

Can you paint laminate countertops?

It is possible to repaint or recolor laminate countertops using specialty bonding paints, though the results are mixed. Often replacement provides a better solution if aiming for a new color scheme.

Are laminate countertops cost effective?

Thanks to their lower material and installation costs, laminate countertops offer one of the most budget-friendly options for upgrading kitchens and baths. They provide an attractive, durable surface at a reasonable price point.

Do laminate countertops look cheap?

With today’s remarkably realistic patterns, laminate countertops can mimic high-end surfaces like granite and quartz while costing a fraction of the price. When selected and installed properly, quality laminate does not look ‘cheap.’

I hope this comprehensive guide to the best types of laminate countertops covers everything you need to know to decide if laminate is the right choice your home and choose the ideal grade, style, and color to suit your needs! Let me know if you have any other laminate countertop questions.


With the variety of grades, performance levels, patterns, and prices available, laminate undoubtedly offers one of the most versatile and cost-effective options for kitchen and bathroom countertops today. By understanding the differences between LPL, MPL, and HPL options, measuring your space, determining your key needs and priorities, and selecting colors and edges that complement your overall décor, you can choose the very best laminate countertop for your application and budget. While no material is indestructible, proper installation, care, and maintenance will ensure laminate counters provide many years of beauty, enjoyment, and convenience in the heart of your home.