A Little Love for Laminate

cawapsFebruary 26, 2013

I ran across these today...

Laminate Countertops: A Buyer's Guide

Consumer Reports Four Reasons to Love Your Laminate

And new Formica Anniversary colors:

I'm really digging the red ellipse pattern. Here's the link:

New Formica Colors

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Every single place I've lived has had laminate in the kitchens and usually the bathrooms. Sure some of them may have been 40 years old but still holding together.

I have to admit I'm hard on stuff, and I like to (don't judge me) cut and put hot stuff right on the counter. Although I am just trying to break myself of those habits.

I love soapstone, and I think that is my first choice, but I think laminate is my back up. I have seen some very pretty laminate counter tops on here. To be honest I ordered thirteen samples of laminate the other day. I can't help it I like samples.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:26PM
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Our vacation place not only has laminate, but it is the original 1956 pink boomerang pattern with the metal edge binding. Actually still looking very good despite years of hard use by previous owners. Such classic style, I hope we never have to replace it...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:00AM
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I want to see a showroom full of laminate countertops. Photos just don't do it for me! Home Depot/Lowes just have one or two per store.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:29AM
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We're getting ready to finally replace our 41 year old laminate counters with granite. I wonder if it will hold up half as well as this laminate has with all the abuse it has taken, raising a family, hot stuff on it, etc.! Good stuff...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 2:03AM
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I caught a rerun of the Brady Bunch the other day. Do you remember the orange laminate counters?? I'm sure that was on trend and cutting edge at the time. Which was a little before my time...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:31AM
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I want Formica to bring back the "Irish Linen" pattern.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:08AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I put laminate in my craft room and never considered anything else...

Sedona Spirit by Wilsonart

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Palimpsest~I was curious to see what the "Irish Linen" looked like, and I swear I had it in an apartment. It was in a sweet little galley kitchen with a big floor to ceiling window in the end with a Crab Apple tree just outside. We were also on the second floor and right in line in the blooms so of course I spent all of my time in there.

My grandma also has laminate (white with little gold flecks), and it looks amazing. It's been there since the early '60's when they built the house, and she holds family reunions for 100+ people every five years along with TG, Easter, and Christmas for 40 people every year. Only a couple of scratches later I'm a believer.

I have been thinking of a way to funky up my little kitchen we will be building in a few years (the only thing DH wants is stained cabinets-not painted) so a crazy cabinet color is out. There really won't be much back splash space because I'm going to run a floating shelf under each upper cabinet run. The rest of the wall space will be counter to ceiling windows. I'm planning on running the hardwoods into the kitchen (it's about an 8x10 space and off by itself in a little corner of the house). So counter tops are left.

After all of that rambling...who has a funky laminate countertop?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:39AM
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I love laminate!!! Its has come a long way from what it has used to look like!! Formica's 180FX collect is fabulous!! WilsonArt HD Series is wonderful too!! Formica still make the charcoal boomerang. I work for a business that makes countertops, mostly laminate, solid surface and we sell granite and quartz. Laminate is still great seller.

Here is a link that might be useful: 180FX formica

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Although I know that the 180FX is very popular, I always think that it looks like it's pretending to be stone. I prefer the honesty of chips cawaps ran across, but like julieboulangerie, I'd really like to see what it looks like full size. When we had our white laminate for 40 years, I never really thought about the pattern in it - in fact, I didn't really process that there was a pattern until I started thinking about replacing it. I always thought "white," but it actually had some flecks of tans and whatever in it. Chips are great, but full size would be really informative.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Keep in mind that, like so many things, they don't make it like they used to.

After reading up on laminates here, I stopped in to a local kitchen shop to talk counters with them. The salesman confirmed what that what I read here was true. What they used to be able to use to make laminate so strong and durable years ago has now been outlawed for environmental reasons. Beware of this if you decide to go for laminate and be careful not to drag stoneware across it, cut on it, or otherwise rough-house it. He said the FX style has a harder coating, but you still want to be careful that you don't scratch it. You can test your samples and see how easily it scratches.

After 12 years of daily use, my dad's laminate has wear spots near the sink where it looks like the color has worn away. The spots are small, about pencil eraser size, and they blend in with the speckled faux granite coloring, but they're definitely visible if you look for them.

This post was edited by laughable on Wed, Feb 27, 13 at 15:31

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Gosh I cannot remember her name right now, but the geologist who did the great post all about the various stones that are countertops (the Truth about Super White was the title of the post, I think) is doing a super cool light gray laminate countertop in her kitchen. I love it. It does have its limitations, of course, but so does every countertop.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 2:58PM
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I just looked at Karin_mt's kitchen, and it is pretty. It's sort of a brushed silver look with a piece of Baltic Birch as the front trim. Her kitchen does look really great.

I started thinking about how things just aren't made how they used to be. Well I love independent testing, and I decided to do some. So I put my laminate pieces (and one 'Milk and Honey' solid surface piece from WilsonArt on the counter to test cutting and scorching.

I boiled a pot of water, and started setting it on the test pieces. None of them scorched! I was both relieved and disappointed. Who doesn't like a little destruction now and then? So then I tried cutting. I got out a paring knife and pushed very hard (much harder than what I would trying to slice into an apple or onion), and there were marks on the laminate and solid surface.

I know the marks are no surprise to anyone here, but I was just curious to see how bad they would be. To be honest though I couldn't decide which one (the solid surface or laminate) looked worse. The laminate felt worse because it took up the surface material and made a little 'ridge' while the solid surface was slightly smoother.

I was also looking at Formica's IdealEdge (for a nice matching edge that looks like the material is solid). They say it should only be installed by a professional, but they had a pretty detailed video on their website, and I bookmarked it from Youtube. Silly people.

If we did laminate we would buy the sheets and install them ourselves. Does anyone know the cost for the solid surface From WilsonArt or Formica?

Here is a link that might be useful: Karin_mt's kitchen with laminate countertop

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 4:22PM
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ctycdm :: the original 1956 pink boomerang pattern with the metal edge binding. Actually still looking very good despite years of hard use by previous owners. Such classic style ::

laughable :: What they used to be able to use to make laminate so strong and durable years ago has now been outlawed for environmental reasons. ::

Helps make living with what's here easier! My kitchen has a red Formica counter (very subtle weave pattern; palimpsest, could it be a red 'Linen'?) with the metal edge, installed in 1963 in my mother's big re-do. I'm pretty tired of the extra cleaning that edge requires, and would love nothing more than a smooth, eased-edge counter that can easily be wiped off, but the counter is in remarkably good shape after 50 years of steady use.

Which is good, because we don't have the money to do new counter and cabinets just yet.

In the 1963 reno, my mother also had a chunky old painted wooden table from the house she grew up in re-topped in laminate, a creamy yellow. It was our kitchen table for decades, now a kitchen worktable that extends out from the wall like a peninsula. There wouldn't be a mark on it today if at age 11 I'd been a little more careful putting together my lame, last-minute 'solar system in thumbtacks' science exhibit. (I curse my younger self whenever I clean the table and encounter those two tack holes, and can only imagine what an irritant they must have been for my mother over the years.)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:46PM
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The red with the dark red weave pattern is Irish Linen, and I think it was available in Canada a while back in the dark red, on a limited basis. It was popular in diners in the red colorway.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:52PM
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The linen pattern we had was a light green and so pretty.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Until last summer, I had laminate all my life, but I lost the love a long time ago. In one house my husband put the coffee maker over a seam and it developed a bulge underneath. In another it got a chip on a corner - fortunately the laminate is dark and it isn't noticeable. In another the side started to peal off an island. My dad has a white matte laminate that doesn't stay white without lots of Soft Scrub with bleach. I want a countertop that will still be in great shape long after I'm tired of it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:13PM
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A kettle of boiling water is probably not a good scorch test. You could probably put that on a pad of paper and the paper wouldn't scorch.

A roasting pan from a 450 degree oven would be a better test of something likely to scorch a material subject to scorching.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:28PM
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I'll try it again but believe it or not I've had a countertop so cheap it scorched with boiling water. Didn't stay there long because everything else in the apartment was cheaper than that.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:55PM
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It's a serviceable countertop surface, but I would never prefer it to a natural material. Just like I have vinyl plank floors which I think are great for the price, but if someone had offered me real hardwood installed for that price I certainly would have preferred it!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Thanks for the props Iowa!

We are remiss in taking more photos now that the kitchen is mostly done, but we are definitely digging the laminate. The linear texture adds just the cool touch that we were looking for. We had a great time abusing the sample piece but our testing did not damage it.

I can appreciate that stone and quartz are more desirable, but we have no complaints given the financial realities of our project.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:10PM
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I must say I was terribly disappointed when they announced they're not bringing back any of the old formica patterns in the anniversary collection. If I could have aqua atomic stars I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:19PM
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You're welcome Karin! Your kitchen is definitely beautiful and has a cool element, and that is something I would like to have for my kitchen.

In the name of science I made a pizza last night. I heated up the stone in a 500 degree oven and then cooked the pizza with the broiler. When it was ready I slid the pizza off, and then I put that stone right on those laminate samples. Nothing! Nothing happened. Though I wasn't satisfied so I had a cast iron skillet I had neglected to clean up from last night so I popped it in the oven after the pizza, and it heated up the grease in it. I let it sit in there for a half hour and threw it on the samples. Guess what happened. Nothing!

I was looking at the samples, and my own laminate (it was here when we bought the house. It's white and light gray with 'bumps'. It has the slightest amount of texture but is not hard to clean up at all, and I roll dough on it all of the time.

The laminate is probably thirteen years old, and we've lived here for six. There is one very small burn mark on the island, and I wish I could remember what it was from because I felt sick when I did it. It doesn't look like a real scorch mark though. I think maybe some grease was on the bottom of a super hot skillet or something, and that is what left it because it is a very light golden mark. I was actually able to scrub it down to maybe 50 percent transparency when I found it (if that makes any sense).

That being said. I'm much better at cutting stuff on boards now then I am putting hot stuff on pads, but I am working on that. Hopefully my 36" range in the next place will help that. : )

Hopefully this is helpful to some poor soul to read through my ramblings. I was in the information/research business before I decided to be a SAHM so-sorry. Occupational hazard.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:56AM
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One advantage of growing up with laminate is the ingrained understanding that cutting should be done on a cutting board, and hot pans should have a trivet or a substantial pad.

Forget the effect on your counter, it's damaging to your _knife_ to cut on surfaces harder than wood -- whether Formica or glass or stone.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 6:34PM
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I agree - I have to say that I'm flabbergasted that anyone would put a hot pan or cut something directly on a countertop. I've been indoctrinated with pot holders, trivets, and cutting boards since I was about six years old! (My parents would have forbid me to enter the kitchen otherwise!)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:19PM
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I like the Ellipse and Endless series. My last house had laminate and I preferred it over the tile that was on the counters in this kitchen when we bought the house. If I had a loft, MCM or contemporary home, I'd go with it. If I put it in this house, I'd have to replace it to sell.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Sorry, not much love for laminate from my corner of the world. I put in laminate cabinets about eight years ago, and I'm not thrilled -- I'm moderately content, given that they were a budget choice, but I don't like them enough to sing their praises.

Comments on my own experience:

- Mine are Wilsonart in a dark-green/black mottled pattern.

- Since I have miles and miles of cabinets, they were what I could afford at the time (we were still saving for college at that point, and that is much more important than countertops). Think about that before you plan a giant kitchen!

- After eight years of use, my countertops show plenty of wear and tear -- and I'm not overly fussy. No, I don't have any burns or knife gouges; rather, I have tons of small scratches -- not from cutting on the counter or anything else purposefully damaging, but lots of tiny scratches from plates or casserole dishes being slid across the surface. It is noticeably worse in the area where I do almost all my prep. On the plus side, the dark patterned laminate does hide this much better than a lighter pattern would.

- We have "seamed edges" -- probably not the right term, but what I mean is that the installers arrived with flat pieces of laminate, cut it to size and "made an edge" here at my house. We don't have the softly rounded one-piece edge. I suspect the one-piece edges are better, but we have a penninsula, and the pre-made one-piece edge stuff won't work in those situations. Why I'm mentioning this: When the countertops were only about a week old, I left a tomato sitting on the countertop, and it went bad . . . and "leaked" -- yeah, nasty, I know, I shouldn't have left it there, but I've been punished for my mistake. The nasty tomato juice leaked onto the seam, and it "opened up", exposing the board underneath. I had to pay to have that portion of the countertop re-done, and I bought a big flat bowl in which to keep my fresh produce. What I can't control: The area over my dishwasher is just a little bit "separated", and I can't do a thing about that. Eventually it's going to pop open too, and at that point I'll end up getting new countertops.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:28PM
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Thanks for the link, I love the new patterns. I do not love the versions that try to mimic stone-- those seem to be popular, but they look cheap to me. (I am also a geologist, so fake rocks just don't do any thing for me in any format.) We've had 2 different laminate counters in this house in the past 25 years. The first was a solid color and it lasted a good long time, but we had to get rid of those laminate-and-oak cabinet doors we inherited at one point (yeah, those dated a lot quicker), and replaced it with a slightly speckled pattern that was a little more forgiving. The main reason I'm not using it in our new house is that I have my heart set on an undermount Silgranite sink. (Oh yeah, for edges, both times we had a beveled wood edge-- the last countertop installer said it would not be durable, but we'd already had the previous version for 15 years, so we knew it would be fine.)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Well thanks you two for telling me my parents did a crappy job in raising me. I'll let them know the two Negative Nancy's on the tread thought so.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:39PM
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My kitchen still has the pink boomerang with silver trim. We like it. But I'm considering finally updating.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 1:34AM
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So ironic. In our new build, my son selected the black and gray boomerang (no silver trim) for the bathroom vanity top. I love it and didn't realize it is vintage.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:16AM
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We have the wood trim now, and it hasn't held up well. When I wipe off the counter I try to dry it off or at least try not to use much water or cleaner on it. It has has a pretty detailed profile so I have to scrape flour or dough out of it. The last house had laminate too, but it had the no spill edge that curved up. I didnt like it. I can appreciate now that it didnt have a seam on the edge to worry about.

I think a retro pattern would be very cool.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Just got back to this-- wanted to clarify the wood edge for anyone who finds this later. Our installer resisted the idea, saying we'd scratch it with our belt buckles or something (huh?). We wanted it anyway, he installed it with some sort of finish that did not hold up. It blistered in the area above the dishwasher where the vent is. We had him back and had him put some sort of marine finish on it. It is flawless 10 years later.

Wanted to get this on the record, because I think it is common that people have one experience with something and conclude naturally that it works great or doesn't work at all. In our case, it was the finish that made the difference, not the fact that it was wood. (I can see how a detailed profile would be problematic, though-- no matter what material was used!)

I always liked that ridged metal band they use on laminate in a diner setting. I think it looks cool, but not sure what it would be like to live with.

And just want to say I love it when people do actual experiments with materials and report back on them instead of saying "I would think this would happen...."

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:45PM
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At the vacation home for Easter, and I realized ours is not boomerangs, it's some type of 1956 space shape :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:37PM
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When I priced laminate counters, customized at HD for the type and install I required, the difference between the price of laminate and the price of basic granite was minor. I think if you like an off the rack laminate, its a steal - but I think HD and Lowe's stock the ugliest ones to tempt buyers to get something better.

I think Ikea has much better laminate choices than the in stock at HD and Lowes.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:38AM
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>I think Ikea has much better laminate choices than the in stock at HD and Lowes.

Yes, but the actual laminate layer is quite thin in comparison, unfortunately. I would buy a lot of kitchen components at ikea, but not laminate.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:59AM
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When you look away from this forum and into the real world of kitchen design you'll quickly see that laminate enjoyed better favor than granite.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 11:08AM
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Hello! I've been reading the forum for a bit, but this is my first post. We're doing a kitchen remodel and planning on making the laminate countertops. I've decided on Formica Basalt Slate with just the simple square edge. But my question is, there is a matte and a honed version and I can't decide. I'm kind of thinking the honed one looks nice since it is textural, but maybe the smoother matte one functions better? Anyone have any experience or suggestions?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:09PM
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