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How Much Do Laminate Countertops Cost?

Laminate Countertop Installation Prices

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Laminate countertops became popular in the U.S. after World War II. While they may not be as trendy today as granite or concrete, laminates remain a popular countertop option due to their affordability, easy upkeep, and customizable patterns. Whatever look you’re going for—from stone to metal to wood to decorative patterns—you can get it for less with laminate counters.

Laminate Countertop Basics

Kitchen and bathroom countertops have a significant impact on the livability and value of your home. Here’s what you should know about laminates if you’re thinking about using them for your remodel.

Composition

Laminate countertops have two main components: a composition wood (plywood or particle board) base and the laminate sheeting. Laminate sheets have a multi-layer construction consisting primarily of paper. In fact, even the design layer of the countertop is made of paper (in this case, high-quality photographic paper, onto which can be printed an infinite number of designs). To give laminate countertops their strength, manufacturers coat the paper in resins then heat and press it together into one solid sheet.

Installation

Laminate countertops can be purchased as prefabricated units (with the sheeting, edge treatment, and backsplash already attached to the wood base, an option that makes DIY installation a snap), or you can hire somebody to install the base layer and laminate sheeting separately. The latter option gives you more flexibility, as you can purchase any laminate surface made by any manufacturer. With prefabricated laminate countertops, you’re limited to the choices offered by retailers. Another option—professional installation as a DIY project (that is, installing the base and sheeting yourself) is possible, but not recommended (if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to damage the countertop). A simpler DIY solution is to have a fabricator custom build your countertop, which you can then install.

Performance

Laminates resist heat, staining, moisture, abrasions, and impacts well. Care should be taken, however, to protect laminate countertops from scorches (hot pots and pans) and scratches (knives and rough scrubbers). Light colors, textured finishes, and matte finishes are better at hiding marks than dark colors and glossy finishes. To avoid seams—which can trap moisture and bacteria—opt for post-formed laminate. This type of laminate countertop has a continuous surface (no seams on the front edge or between the backsplash and countertop). Limited post-form designs are available off the shelf. You can also custom order post-formed laminate tops.

Maintenance

Because laminates can’t be repaired, you should always use trivets/hot plates under pots and pans and a cutting board for food preparation. For daily cleanup, use mild soap and water.

What’s New

Today’s laminates are available not only in hundreds of colors and patterns, but also in more durable and beautiful configurations. Premium laminates resist wear and tear much more than standard laminates. Some also have improved design layers that accurately capture the breadth and depth of natural stone. Homeowners who are interested in next-generation laminates should take a look at Formica 180FX and Wilsonart HD.

Laminate Countertop Average Costs

  • Laminates are known for their low cost. They start at around $10 to $20 per square foot installed (or $600 to $1,200 for 60 square feet of counterspace). Premium laminates, however, can cost more than twice as much ($25 to $50 per square foot installed; $1,500 to $3,000 for 60 square feet). Other options, including custom edging and installing a new sink, will increase the project cost. Actual pricing will also depend on the materials chosen, the countertop size and layout, local labor and material cost, and more.
  • Taking the DIY approach can cut your costs considerably. Laminate sheeting can cost as little as $1 to $4 per square foot, while prefabricated laminate countertops typically run $15 to $30 per linear foot.

Author: Brian Eckert

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