What to Consider Before Installing Laminate Countertops in Your Kitchen

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated September 3, 2021
White cabinets with black marble pattern laminate countertops
Photo: Андрей Журавлев / Adobe Stock

Laminate has come a long way since the '50s

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Laminate countertops have been around since the 1950s, but they’ve come a long way. Forget those memories of your grandmother’s kitchen—with hundreds of styles and colors available, you can find laminate counters that refresh your kitchen, turning it into a modern new space. This versatile material is also light, inexpensive, and relatively easy to work with. 

Learn all about the pros and cons of laminate countertops to determine if it’s the right choice for your kitchen.

What Are Laminate Countertops?

Laminate countertops are generally constructed with layers of paper covered with a protective melamine resin top layer. The laminate is bonded to a solid material such as plywood or particleboard. In general, laminate is the least expensive countertop option.

Pros of Laminate Countertops

There’s a lot to love about laminate countertops—here are the main advantages.

Beautiful and Sleek

New laminate countertops can look stunning in your kitchen. There are even laminate designs that mimic natural stone like granite or quartz.

Easy to Clean

You can clean laminate counters with dish soap and water or with a standard cleaning solution. Choose a non-abrasive cleaner so you don’t scratch the seal, and avoid bleach because it can damage and discolor the surface. With a simple clean, laminate countertops are great at warding off bacteria.

Budget-Friendly

Laminate is the least expensive countertop material and can save you hundreds if not thousands if you’re remodeling on a budget.

Resistant to Stains

As a water-resistant surface, you won’t need to worry too much about spills and stains with laminate countertops.

Many Styles and Colors Available

Laminate comes in hundreds of colors and patterns. You can pick exactly what you want, allowing you to match stainless steel appliances or blend with the rest of your kitchen colors.  

There are also several edge options available, including:

  • Bullnose (curved at the top and bottom)

  • Beveled (45-degree angled edge on top)

  • Ogee (a concave arc that flows into a convex arc)

Great for DIY Installation

Because the material is lightweight and easy to install, new laminate countertops are perfect for moderate DIYers. You can also hire a countertop contractor or compare counter install prices.

Long-Lasting

Laminate countertops last 20 to 30 years if cared for properly. While some natural stone, such as granite countertops, can last up to 100 years, other options including marble, quartz, and concrete countertops have a similar lifespan to laminate—but cost much more.

Cons of Laminate Countertops

Despite its benefits, laminate might not be the right countertop material for you.

Not Heat-Resistant

Avoid setting hot pans and pots directly on your laminate countertops, as it could melt the surface.

More Susceptible to Damage and Dullness

Laminate tends to be more prone to show damage like scratches, dents, and nicks. It can also start to look worn if not properly cared for. Always use a cutting board to avoid damaging the surface.

Cannot Be Repaired or Resealed

While other countertop materials might be able to be sanded or repaired, it’s difficult to repair laminate countertops

With laminate, there's a risk of water seeping through cracks or joints and reaching the substrate underneath. If water reaches the plywood or particleboard beneath the surface, the wood is likely to absorb the moisture and warp or swell. Repairs can be time-consuming and expensive and, without addressing the issue ASAP, you’ll have uneven countertops.

Visible Seams

When you install two pieces of laminate next to each other, you’ll have a noticeable seam. Soften the look by placing the seams in less visible areas.

Doesn’t Add Value to Your Home

If you sell your home, laminate won’t boost your home’s price. But other countertops, like granite or marble, are likely to bump up your home’s value.

Laminate Costs vs. Other Countertop Materials

Nice house with white countertops
Photo: Fotoluminate LLC / Adobe Stock

Comparing laminate prices to other countertops can help you decide what’s best for your kitchen. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular countertop materials installed, based on a 30-linear-foot kitchen:

  • Laminate: $1,575

  • Granite slab: $4,440

  • Carrera marble: $4,620

  • Concrete: $5,310

The average labor cost to install laminate countertops is between $30 and $40 per hour. Installing other countertop materials, like marble and concrete countertops, tend to cost more per hour because their weight makes installation more difficult.

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