Laminate Countertops: What to Know Before You Buy

Laminate countertops can be a budget-friendly option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. With a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures available, laminate offers the look of more expensive countertop materials like stone or quartz for a fraction of the cost. But before you buy laminate countertops, there are some key considerations. Here is what you need to know about laminate countertop costs, durability, maintenance and more.

What is Laminate?

Laminate countertops are made by laminating (bonding) layers of plastic resin and aluminum oxide particle board. A photographic layer is then added to create the look and design. The top layer is a clear protective coating that resists stains, scratches and burns.

Laminate offers the advantages of:

  • Affordability – Laminate counters are typically $25-$50 per square foot installed, compared to $80-$150+ per square foot for stone or quartz.
  • Easy installation – Laminate countertops can be installed directly over existing counters, saving time and money on demolition.
  • Design variety – With dozens of colors and realistic-looking patterns, laminate provides endless options to suit any kitchen décor style.
  • Durability – Modern laminates resist scratches, stains, burns and impact better than earlier versions. Many come with 10-year or limited lifetime warranties.

Pros and Cons of Laminate Countertops

Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of laminate counters:


  • Inexpensive compared to stone or quartz options
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Wide range of colors and patterns
  • Resists scratches and stains
  • Can be cut for sinks and cooktops


  • Not heat or scratch resistant as stone
  • Prone to chipping on edges
  • Seams more visible than with stone
  • Not as durable long-term

Cost of Laminate Countertops

The average cost to install laminate countertops is $20-$50 per square foot, with most homeowners paying between $1,200-$3,500 total for materials and professional installation of their kitchen counters.

Laminate costs can vary based on:

  • Style – Woodgrain and stone looks cost slightly more than solid colors.
  • Edge treatment – Built-up edges hide seams better but add $2-$5 per linear foot.
  • Quality – Thicker laminates with better warranties cost more. Budget options cost as little as $10 per square foot.
  • Labor – DIY kits cost $15-$30 per square foot. Pro installation averages $35 per hour.

Other factors like layout, sink holes, seaming, and accessories like backsplash also impact overall costs. Be sure to get an itemized quote for your specific project.

How Long Does Laminate Countertops Last?

With proper care and maintenance, laminate countertops can last 10-15 years or longer. High-end laminates with thicker construction and better warranties can last 20 years or more.

Factors impacting laminate’s longevity include:

  • Quality – Better quality laminates last longer. Look for 1/16 inch+ thickness and long warranties.
  • Installation – Professional installation prevents leaks, buckling and other issues.
  • Care – Preventing scratches, burns and water damage helps laminate last.
  • Usage – Heavy everyday use in a busy kitchen leads to faster wear and tear.

Laminate Countertops Durability

Laminate countertops offer decent durability for the price, but cannot match the resilience of natural stone or quartz. Here are some durability considerations:

  • Resists scratches – Laminate stands up well to daily use and sliding plates/pans. But deep cuts can penetrate the surface.
  • Heat resistance – Laminate can withstand brief contact with hot pans. But prolonged heat exposure can cause bubbling/peeling.
  • Stain resistance – Laminate resists most household stains like coffee, juice and food spills. But it can absorb stains over time.
  • Impact resistance – Laminate is prone to chipping if heavy objects are dropped on edges and seams.
  • Water resistance – Laminate holds up to spills and splashes. But prolonged exposure to standing water can cause swelling and damage.

Overall, laminate provides decent durability for the price, but serious cooks or those wanting stone-like resilience may prefer quartz or granite.

Can You Cut on Laminate Countertops?

Laminate countertops can be cut on, but knifemarks will gradually become visible with heavy use over time. To prolong the life of your laminate:

  • Use a cutting board when chopping, slicing or cutting to prevent direct knife contact.
  • Select a laminate with a textured or patterned finish, which hides cuts and knifemarks better than a smooth glossy surface.
  • Avoid serrated knives which chew into the laminate more than straight blades.
  • Limit cuts to certain areas like near the sink or cooktop and keep other areas cut-free.
  • Seal any cuts with a laminate repair crayon/filler to help minimize moisture penetration.

Following these tips and taking care to protect your laminate can help keep surfaces looking their best while still allowing for food prep.

Are Laminate Countertops Better Than Granite?

Granite is considered a higher-end countertop material than laminate, but each option has pros and cons:

Granite pros:

  • Adds high-end style and value to kitchens
  • Extremely durable and heat/scratch-resistant
  • Stain-resistant and easy to sanitize
  • Available in wide range of natural patterns

Laminate pros:

  • Significantly lower cost and installation requirements
  • Seamless appearance ideal for small spaces
  • Easier to cut for sink openings
  • Much wider variety of colors and patterns
  • Does not etch from citrus or require sealing

Bottom line: Granite is the clear winner for durability and resale value. But laminate offers an affordable, stylish and family-friendly option that can still provide many years of service. Consider your budget, lifestyle and length of time in the home when choosing.

Laminate Countertops Maintenance

Caring for your laminate counters properly is key to maximizing their longevity. Here are some tips for laminate countertop maintenance:

  • Clean spills promptly to prevent stains – especially acidic liquids like juice.
  • Use mild soap and water or glass cleaner to regularly clean surfaces. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Rinse thoroughly after cleaning to remove any chemical residue.
  • Avoid putting hot pans directly on laminate to prevent burning or bubbles. Always use trivets or hot pads.
  • Use cutting boards instead of cutting directly on the counter.
  • Apply wax monthly to add protection and shine.
  • Reseal seams/edges with caulk if any gaps appear to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • Inspect regularly and re-adhere any loose areas around sink or backsplash.

With proper care, your laminate counters can stay looking fresh and damage-free for many years. Contact a pro for deep repairs or re-lamination to refresh older surfaces.

Laminate Countertops vs. Quartz

Quartz countertops have surged in popularity in recent years as an alternative to granite and laminate. Here is how laminate and quartz counters compare:

Laminate pros:

  • Less expensive – $25-$50 vs $80-$120 per sq ft installed
  • Wider range of colors/patterns
  • Can be installed directly over old counters
  • Easy for DIYers to cut and install

Quartz pros:

  • Extremely durable and scratch/heat resistant
  • Stain, mold and bacteria resistant
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • Retains resale value better

Bottom line: For a kitchen workhorse that will last decades with heavy use, quartz is worth the investment. But laminate provides an affordable, user-friendly option that can still perform well in busy kitchens.

Should You Seal Laminate Countertops?

Laminate countertops are made with a protective plastic resin surface, so sealing is not required in most cases. However, sealing the edges and seams is recommended over time. Here’s when to seal laminate counters:

  • If the laminate edges become brittle or start to separate. Sealant glues them down and prevents moisture intrusion.
  • If seams open wider than 1/16”, allowing spills/moisture to penetrate. Sealant fills gaps.
  • Around the sink cutout if gaps appear. Sealant prevents water damage.
  • For added protection and shine on older laminate. Wax sealant makes cleaning easier.

Choose a polyurethane-based sealant approved for plastics. Avoid silicone caulk. Resealing every 2-5 years helps preserve laminate counters in top condition.

Can You Paint Laminate Countertops?

Painting laminate countertops is possible with proper preparation and paint formulated for plastics. Here is a brief overview:

  • Clean and lightly sand laminate to rough up the glossy surface so paint will adhere.
  • Apply 2-3 coats of primer designed for laminate and plastics. This creates a bonding layer.
  • Apply at least 2 coats of acrylic enamel paint in your desired color. Multiple thin coats are better than thick coats.
  • Finish with a polyurethane sealer for added protection and sheen.

Painted laminate requires gentle cleaning as paint will scratch more easily than original laminate. Trim edging may also need repainting. Consider costs vs. replacing counters.

Laminate Countertops vs. Butcher Block

Butcher block and laminate counters both provide affordable kitchen options. Here’s how they compare:

Laminate pros:

  • Seamless installation perfect for small spaces
  • Resists moisture, warping and bacteria better
  • Much wider range of colors and patterns
  • Easier to clean and maintain

Butcher block pros:

  • Can be sanded out if scratched or damaged
  • Develops a prized patina over time
  • Provides a genuine wood look and feel
  • Naturally antimicrobial properties

Bottom line: Laminate works best for low-maintenance kitchens prone to spills and moisture. Butcher block brings warmth and character along with some maintenance.

Laminate Countertop Brands

Popular laminate countertop brands include:

  • Wilsonart – The largest laminate maker with wide range of patterns. Mid-to-lower price points.
  • Formica – The original laminate brand. Offers 180+ colors/finishes and 25+ patterns.
  • Pionite – Known for stone looks. Good mid-range choice for durability.
  • Nevamar – High-end laminate with elegant styles. Prices start around $50/sq.ft.
  • Fletcher – Budget-friendly brand with standard colors/finishes. Prices start around $15/sq.ft.
  • Panolam – Thick 1.2mm options resist scratches. Known for woodgrain patterns.

When choosing a brand, consider price, durability, warranty length, and of course, design options that match your kitchen style.

DIY Installation of Laminate Countertops

Installing laminate countertops yourself can save thousands over pros. Here are the steps:

  1. Remove old countertops if present and prepare the base cabinets.
  2. Make a template and cut the laminate pieces to size using a circular saw.
  3. Mark and cut holes for the sink and fixtures using a jigsaw.
  4. Apply contact cement to counter and laminate backing and let dry.
  5. Press pieces into place, starting with backsplash. Use shims to align.
  6. Attach trim molding on edges and seams for a finished look.
  7. Seal seams with silicone caulk and allow to fully cure before use.

DIY laminate installation takes 4-5 hours per counter with the right tools. Watch online tutorials. Taking your time yields best results.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Laminate Countertops

Here are signs your laminate counters are reaching the end of their lifespan:

  • Widespread cracking, peeling edges, chips or holes
  • Deep scratches, cuts and burn marks that cannot be repaired
  • Bubbled/discolored areas from prolonged heat or water damage
  • Visible seams detaching or large gap openings
  • Warping that causes lifting or separation from cabinet base
  • Dull, faded look that cannot be revived with cleaning and waxing
  • Laminate layers delaminating or edges detaching when tapped

If your laminate shows multiple signs of aging, replacement will provide a safer, more sanitary and attractive kitchen environment.

Laminate Countertop Colors

Laminate comes in every color imaginable. Here are some popular shades:

Solid Colors

  • White – brightens and enlarges kitchens
  • Black – striking drama and contrasts white cabinets
  • Gray – versatile neutral complements any style
  • Navy – alternative to black for a dark, moody vibe


  • Oak – affordable mimicry of higher-end oak counters
  • Maple – light, bright look perfect for cottage kitchens
  • Walnut – replicates the richness of real walnut
  • Concrete – industrial, raw look without porous concrete downsides


  • Marble/granite – emulate luxury stone for less
  • Quartz – mimic quartz visuals with more colors
  • Stonewashed – muted, multi-toned stone patterns
  • Tile – popular backsplash-matching laminate look

Visit showrooms to see the full spectrum of laminate designs in person. Bring home samples to preview in your space before deciding.

Making the Most of Laminate Countertops

To maximize the benefits of laminate in your kitchen:

  • Choose matte finishes to help hide scratches and fingerprints
  • Use enhancement techniques like mitered edges for a seamless look
  • Opt for dark colors that hide wear better than light tones
  • Choose woodgrain patterns that camouflage cuts from slicing and chopping
  • Use hacks like cutting boards and trivets to protect the surface
  • Stick to décors like transitional that work well with laminate’s affordability
  • Clean and seal regularly to prevent moisture damage that deteriorates laminate

With smart design and care choices, you can enjoy stylish, family-friendly laminate counters for years.

Laminate Countertop FAQs

Get answers to the most common questions about laminate countertops.

Are laminate countertops cheap?

The low cost of laminate countertops, typically $25-$50 per square foot installed, qualifies them as inexpensive compared to $80-$150+ per square foot for stone or quartz counters. But well-made laminates provide an affordable alternative, not a cheap one.

Do laminate countertops stain easily?

Quality laminate countertops are fairly stain-resistant to common kitchen spills and stains. But some acids like lemon juice can stain laminate over time, and heat and liquids allowed to sit can also eventually stain if not wiped up.

Can you cut on laminate countertops?

It’s possible to cut and chop on laminate countertops, but not recommended for heavy kitchen use. Using cutting boards will prolong laminate’s lifespan and a textured laminate finish helps hide any light cutting marks over time.

Do laminate countertops add value?

While not adding as much resale value as stone, high-quality laminate countertops can still recoup 50-70% of their original cost in home value. Refinishing or replacing older laminate before selling a home is recommended to maximize value.

Can you put hot pans on laminate countertops?

Brief contact with hot pans is fine, but allowing pots or baking sheets directly from the oven to sit on laminate countertops can cause discoloration or bubbling. Always use trivets and hot pads to prevent heat damage.

Is laminate more durable than granite?

Granite is more durable than any laminate countertop when it comes to heat, scratch and stain resistance. But modern laminates offer decent durability for moderate kitchen use, especially darker colors that hide wear well.

Do laminate countertops warp?

Quality laminate countertops are designed not to warp or swell from typical moisture exposure. But excessive water spills allowed to sit for long periods can cause some warping, as can underlying cabinet base issues that must be properly addressed.

Can you recycle laminate countertops?

Most laminate countertops cannot be recycled since they mix plastic resin with wood fibers and glue. The best option is to refinish or donate usable laminate pieces. As a last resort, small amounts can go in the regular trash.


With an endless array of colors and patterns available, laminate offers an affordable way to refresh your kitchen style. Taking time to carefully choose designs and edges along with proper installation will help maximize the benefits of laminate. Keep surfaces looking their best with regular care and maintenance. While laminate counters won’t have the longevity or resale value of stone, they provide an attractive and budget