These days, laminate countertops have an undeserved reputation as the stuff you settle for if you can’t afford solid-surfacing or natural stone. lt’s true that at just £15 to £50 per linear foot, even a good laminate is easy on your budget, but laminates have far more going for them than price.
They’re hard-wearing and durable; a properly installed and cared for laminate countertop should last at least 10 to15 years. Plastic laminate is formed from layers of resin-saturated paper that are bonded under pressure, then given a protective coating of clear melamine. The laminate is glued to particle board to create the countertop. Since the top layer of paper-know as the photo layer-can depict anything, laminates are available in hundreds of colors and patterns.
Laminate countertops in the kitchen also can be manufactured with a variety of edge treatments. An alternative to standard laminate is “colour through” laminate, in which the surface color runs all the way through the sheet. The advantages of this product are that it doesn’t have the dark edge that standard laminate has and surface damage may be less noticeable; the disadvantage is that it costs about three times as much as standard laminate.
Home centers and kitchen dealers typically display an array of laminate counter samples on pegboards, which allows you to view many styles and options at a glance.
Choosing Color & Pattern
The current trend in counter colors is to use deep, rich hues inspired by nature. If you’re hesitant to use a bold color everywhere, you might use a neutral color for the counter and a bright accent color for the backsplash that picks up one of the counter colors or contrasting color. You can also use the edge of the counter as an accent by adding a contrasting stripe or a different material. Most laminate colors are available in a variety of sheens. For a hard-working family kitchen, it’s best to select a tough, easy-to-clean matte finish. If you’re attracted to a shiny finish, keep in mind that it will show wear more easily and be more difficult to keep clean.
For the same reasons, deeply textured finishes are less desirable, especially for work areas. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, make sure the samples work with your new cabinets, floors and appliances. Take the samples home and place them on your counters for a day or two to see how they look under different lighting conditions. Some manufacturers even match their laminate countertops with laminate facings for cabinet doors.