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Reading: Laminate Countertops: Pros, Cons and Alternatives

Laminate Countertops: Pros, Cons and Alternatives

05/31/2020
7 min read

Laminate countertops are a popular option among homeowners due to their cost-effective nature. However, the upfront savings will come back to haunt you due to issues inherent with laminate countertops.

Today, we’ll explore these issues to give you a clear picture of the upsides and downsides associated with this countertop material — as well as higher quality alternatives like quartz countertops.

What Are Laminate Countertops?

Laminate countertops consist of plastic fused with kraft paper or particleboard. As with other laminate surfaces (like those used for tables and guitars), the intent is to create a look that is evocative of more expensive, solid materials.

Laminate countertops can imitate materials like wood and marble. However, as we’ll explore shortly, this imitation is only surface-deep; laminate does not mimic these materials in any other way.

Pros and Cons of Laminate Countertops

Transform by Caesarstone is an option many people consider if the cost of replacing their laminate countertops completely is too great.

Pros

Laminate countertops are among the cheapest available. We’ll explore exact numbers in an upcoming section but they’re extremely cheap. Installation is also relatively simple; DIY types can probably get away without hiring an experienced installer. Even if you need to hire someone, though, you’ll spend less than you would hiring someone to install many other materials.

Unfortunately, this is where the upside ends. And as you’ll see next, you definitely pay for the convenience of laminate countertops.

Cons

There are many to list here, so we’ll break this up into sections.

Laminate Countertops Are Very Easy to Damage

As mentioned earlier, laminate countertops sheets are made from plastic and particleboard or kraft paper. These are not durable materials.

One consequence of this is that laminate countertops crack remarkably easily, especially around the edges. Some manufacturers mitigate this risk by placing metal or rubber guards around the countertop’s edge, which is unsightly and ruins the illusion of whatever the laminate was trying to emulate.

Another consequence of poor durability is that water can warp laminate countertops. A common symptom of this is bubbling on the surface.

Laminate Countertops Look Cheap

Laminate countertops sheets emulate more expensive materials through the patterns that are printed on their surface. 

The problem?

Surfaces like marble and wood get their characteristic appearance from more than just the surface. They have depth; you can see beyond the first layer and observe the textures underneath.

Laminate countertops cannot achieve this. In fact, they attempt to conceal what lies beyond the top surface by definition.

Laminate Countertops Do Not Add Resale Value

The above downsides result in kitchens with laminate countertops being less-than-desirable. Adding to the complications is the fact that laminate surfaces are very common and therefore considered pedestrian.

As such, the money you spend on installing and maintaining laminate countertops is money you’ll never see again. In this way, because laminate countertops do not retain value, they will end up costing you more in the long run than installing a higher-quality material to begin with would.

Laminate Countertops Cost of Ownership

Laminate countertops cost between $25 and $35 per square foot, for materials alone. If you want a custom edge, you’ll spend roughly $5 per foot.

Installation costs will depend on factors like whether you need to remove and dispose of old countertops. Generally, expect to pay at least $30 per hour for installation, which shouldn’t take more than a day. 

All-in, laminate countertops cost an average of $1,575 in the United States up front.

Re-laminating the counter (which you’ll almost certainly need to do at some point) will cost an average of $340, but repairs can easily run up to $1,000 and beyond for more complicated setups.

Remember, this is money you’ll never see again as laminate countertops do not add resale value to your home.

Alternatives to Laminate Countertops

Quartz is much more durable than laminate. (Cloudburst Concrete 4011)

In the past, laminate countertops were the only viable option for people on a budget. Advancements in manufacturing for other materials, however, have drastically reduced their costs. 

With one particular material, you can receive a countertop that is significantly better than laminate in every way, all without spending an inconceivable amount more.

That material? Quartz.

Laminate Countertops vs. Quartz

As mentioned earlier, laminate countertops’ price is between $25 and $35 per square foot for material alone.

Quartz will range from $40 per square foot for affordable materials to $50 for mid-tier and $80-$100 and beyond for the best of the best.

Even a more moderately-priced quartz countertop will serve you better and add greater resale value to your home than laminate. As long as you get it from a quality manufacturer like Caesarstone, you’ll have a surface that lasts a lifetime.

Beyond material costs, installation will cost you about $70 per hour.

All-in, you’re looking at a cost of between $2,000 and $3,900 for installing quartz in the average kitchen, compared to about $1,600 for laminate.

The key difference?

A quartz surface will retain most of the money you put into it, while laminate certainly will not.

The case for quartz becomes even stronger upon analyzing quartz countertop benefits over laminate.

Appearance

Quartz countertops possess a depth and richness not found in laminate. (Noble Grey 5211)

Laminate countertops don’t hold a candle to quartz in terms of appearance. Quartz has great depth and richness that allows it to take on the properties of everything from marble to ceramic and even concrete.

This is because quartz is a solid countertop surface that mixes natural stone with engineered materials like resins. What you end up with is a versatile material that can be made to resemble other materials in a convincing way.

Structurally, quartz does not involve layers of plastic; this makes for a much more uniform appearance that does not give itself away at the edges.

Low Maintenance

Laminate countertops sheets are fragile. Plumbing issues need to be dealt with immediately, as do spills; leaving either unattended for long will cause warping.

By comparison, a quartz countertop in the kitchen requires little to no maintenance. Of course, you’ll want to wipe up spills as they happen and keep the surface clean for sanitation’s sake — but there’s no warping. You don’t even need to reseal a quartz counter as frequently as you would other surfaces like granite or quartzite.

More Options

Raw Concrete 4004)

Countertop trends are much easier to keep up with when you use quartz. Laminate countertop edge options are limited by their construction; getting too adventurous would reveal the layers.

Quartz is a solid, uniform surface all the way through. As such, you have a very wide array of edge options.

Beyond edge bevelling and the like, quartz can also be molded to create unique shapes that would not be possible with laminate. This includes things like waterfall countertops and even entire islands made from quartz.

Durability

Quartz countertops are incredibly durable. They are resistant to scratches, staining, and chipping — the three biggest threats to a countertop’s surface.

As mentioned earlier, laminate countertops lack durability. You will almost certainly chip or warp them eventually.

The Caesarstone Quartz Advantage

After analyzing the laminate countertops vs quartz argument, you should have a clear idea of why the latter material is superior.

Not all quartz is equal, though; work with an established, reputable provider like Caesarstone to avoid ending up with an inferior quartz surface.

Caesarstone’s collection includes surfaces of every color, shape, and texture you could want, and we are conveniently located all across America. Visit one of our locations to experience a quality quartz countertop for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are laminate countertops?

All-in, a laminate countertop will cost you an average of $1,575 in a typical American home.

How do you change laminate countertops without removing them?

Transform by Caesarstone allows you to place a quartz overlay over your existing laminate countertop. This is a solid alternative for those who can’t afford to replace their countertops entirely but still want a high-quality surface.

How do you remove stains from laminate countertops?

Create a paste from baking soda and water. Leave it on the stain for five minutes and then remove it with a soft, wet cloth. Repeat this as many times as is required to get rid of the stain; just be sure not to scrub the baking soda as it is abrasive. Simply wipe it off with the cloth.