Help! Solid Surface vs. laminate

jfranc85March 18, 2010

I need a countertop to go with new white cabinets. The kitchen is very small and I really want black. I have picked a Formica In Depth in Black Impala and am also considering Etchings, Blackstone, a laminate.

There is a L shaped shelf the runs about 4' by 5' feet a few inches above the countertops, opening to the dining area and the hall and I think that should be the same color, rather than white like the woodwork and cabinets.

I am not sure that the laminate will look well on the shelf area, the sold surface is much shinier. Also a seam may be a problem. Laminate is less, but not a lot less.

Any advice?

I really need to make some decision as it will take a month to get the solid surface and I need to move in in 2 weeks, with or without a functioning kitchen!

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I've been making the same decision and so far the solid surface beats the formica for me.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 2:08AM
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I don't have this at h ome, but do have some experience at work. My work redid several ladies rooms, some with laminate and one with corian.
I know it's a different situation, and they get TONS of use, but the laminates look much more worn [i.e bad] after a year or so than the corian.

Before my k itchen reno though, I had an older laminate counter in pretty good shape.
My thought is that it must matter what brand you get and how much you spend? My work obviously went cheap!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:10AM
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I love corian and have it everywhere, but they are all very light colors. I wouldn't recommend corian in black though. It will show every smudge and scratch.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:34AM
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I had trouble making a countertop decision too. Sometimes I think we have too many choices now! Anway, once I ordered Corian samples that I used in my kitchen for a few weeks the decision was made easy. AFter only two weeks there were noticeable scratches in the solid surface. I know that you can buff those out, but I don't have the time. I am going with granite this time around. If my choices were between solid surface & laminate, however, I would choose laminate hands down. The bright blue laminate in my kitchen now still looks are good as the day it was installed - January 1991. Where it not that awful blue (what was I thinking?!?) I just might keep it!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:35AM
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Everyone I know grew up with laminate and it wears like iron if you don't mind seams. If the solid surface is shiny, it won't stay shiny. A matte finish with a lighter color will help disguising the inevitable scratches that occur until they eventually meld into a patina. Both types can be cleaned with just about anything - 409, Windex, bleach, etc. You don't want to use abrasives on laminate, whereas solid surface has color all the way through. If you want an undermount sink it's much easier with solid surface. (It's been done with laminate but I wouldn't risk the water damage.) I have Corian on my perimeter counters because I loved the color, dislike the seams and didn't want the edgebanding or postform edge that you get with formica.

I wouldn't ever recommend a white corian sink though. Impossible to keep clean without daily bleach and scrubbing. I have a stainless undermount.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:38AM
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Soapstone would look so gorgeous with your white cabinets.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 10:22AM
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Black solid surface is a no-no unless you never use your kitchen.

I once warned a past client about getting a speckled black solid surface top, but she insisted. A few weeks after the install she actually called me up to complain that I didn't try to do a better job in talking her out of it. She said, "You didn't tell me it would show scratches THAT much!" I felt bad for her, but I really tried....I even let her take a knife to one of my samples. I told her I would re-do her top at cost, but I couldn't do it free of charge.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 1:42PM
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i used absolute black granite in my last apartment and it was fabulous. i have it in three rental apartments, too, and it seems great there, too. mine got a ton of use, i never sealed it, and it didn't show any signs of wear at all. plus, it was cheap: twenty five bucks per sq. ft.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 7:41PM
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Thanks for the helpful responses.
I went to price granite yesterday and found that it will actually cost a bit less than the solid surface.
So I am going with the granite, very dark, but with a bit of color which will be best in my small dark space.
I will post pics when it is in. A small kitchen is VERY hard to do, there is no extra space for things like dishwashers which open against the frig.
I did buy a 24" x24" bottom freezer frig, so I think that will help open up the space.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 11:05PM
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