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such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Posted by KCRemodeler (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 9, 11 at 21:37

I have a fairly large 1990 golden oak kitchen that has been poorly maintained (as is the rest of the house, which we are overhauling). The configuration is not ideal, and so I plan to fully remodel (with new cabinets) the kitchen in, say, 10 years. We're putting so much in the rest of the house, I'm not ready to dump that much into the kitchen. For today, I NEED to replace my appliances and countertop (laminate is peeling back and it scratched and awful), rehab the outdated cabinets, and replace the hideous backsplash. I am not wanting to get into a lot of money here, but want something that I'm happy with for 7-10 yrs. Plan is to get the cabinets painted white, redo the backsplash, and put in counters as cheaply as I can be happy with w/o looking too cheap.

I'm thinking a logical choice is laminate, since its quite a bit less than other options (which all are around the same price point, and i don't live near an Ikea). Problem is, I've been told with the layout of our kitchen a rolled edge is not preferred b/c of the way the seams would look, and I should go with a bevel to reduce seams. I personally haven't seem a laminate that looks decent.

Looking for pictures/opinions on a laminate that looks good w/ painted white cabs? What backsplash to go w/ laminate that doesn't make it look even cheaper? My walls are a camel color tuscan troweled texture, and my cabinets are the cathedral style. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

http://www.formica.com/en/home/TradeLanding.aspx

Here is a link that might be useful: Formica


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

We've had quite a few members who have done lovely kitchens with good looking Formica. Part of that, however, is a willingness to think it's okay if it looks like laminate. There are new ones that don't have regular repeats in the patterning, which gives a more organic look, if that's what you like. I'm not an expert, but at least one person here had a bevel edge that was a design element and looked fab. I've also seen in industry pictures a few more complex edges.

Do you like patina? If so, check out Circuspeanut's DIY copper counters. If not, do you have a local sheet metal fabricator? Some folks have gotten stainless steel for a very reasonable price if they got it from a local maker rather than through a store.

If you'd like wood, you can do that too. Several of our members have done their own. Some do plank, at least one (I think it was here) made his own end grain butcher block. It's not particularly difficult work, just painstaking and demanding of patience if you're not already skilled.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Some of us laminate people are very unconcerned about specialized edges. As long as there is an edge at all this is fine with me--I like dragging my hand across the countertop to push liquids or solids over the edge into a container so I don't want interference from a rounded edge. Our edges in new kitchen are simple 90 degree corners.

Am having fun with our Formica 180FX 'Antique Mascarello.' There are others here on the GW with other 180FX faux stone patterns. Do some Googling on Garden Web for specimen photos. There are so many wonderful laminates by Formica, Pionite, Nevamar, Wilsonart, others that your big problem will be making a choice. The 180FX has 5-foot repeat instead of an 18 inch repeat so it's got a lot of potential if that turns you on.

Hey it's made in a test tube but that doesn't make it all bad! Affordable and durable and lots of choices are all good things.

Have fun stormin' the castle!

Here is a link that might be useful: Florantha's Sea of Oak and House of Formica/Flickr Click on!


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I like some laminate. I like the retro ones with a little texture to them (fabric, boomerang). I hate the ones that are trying to look like something else (granite look).


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I'm painting my cabinets white & hopefully getting Wilsonart laminate counters in Pearl Soapstone (haven't quite convinced DH yet).

There have been many useful threads on here in favor of laminate - here are a few:

Laminate Countertops - am I crazy

Wilsonart Laminate Countertops

Laminate counter tops in otherwise luxurious kitchen?

I think the options for backsplash are wide open until you find a pattern you like to start narrowing it down.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

yep, a number of posters here have it. one has it that looks like concrete (I think that's it), one that is close to soapstone look...

a few butterums - that's what I plan to get (so far - unless I change my mind)

the 180FX laminate is more expensive than the regular laminate.

take a look on the Formica site, Wilson Art etc. You'll find lots of choices.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I didn't want laminates in my "minorly adjusted" kitchen, so I did concrete. I've documented (but not pinned pictures up yet -- that will probably be this weekend) the process starting at This Page
It cost me about 500 bucks for the cement, sink, and faucet. I have a 13' run that takes a 4' corner, and another just over 5'.

Here are some shots of all of Pionite's new stonex colors. I don't know which ones will seam better than others.
You've probably seen the Formica 180fx colors already, but note that some of their newest ones come in different finishes.

Here's something I saw this morning. I'd seen something like it before, but don't think I'd ever watched a video. Painting Laminates to look like granite seems viable. You could technically make your own countertops out of sheets of melamine and paint them like this too. Not sure what you'd do for an edge though.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

We built our house 3 years ago, and along with Brazilian cherry floors, Wolf appliances, and custom cabinets and woodwork, we have laminate counters throughout. --A bit of stainless around the stove and DIY wood on the island, but laminate on the rest of the perimeter and in all baths, the laundry, the desk areas, the sewing room... We have all different looks, but I think they all look good. I didn't want to spend several thousands on stone, when I could be perfectly happy with durable, hard-working laminate that DH could DIY for hundreds.

We considered concrete, but I was hesitant about upkeep, staining, and dish-breaking hazard, and mostly, we didn't have time to make it happen. So we did 2 1/4" thick counters to emulate the heftiness of concrete. Ours might be the concrete-looking counters referred to by Desertsteph.

I'm like Florantha...I'm not into special edges and prefer the 90 degree straight front.

We've recently been working on remodeling DH's parents' home, and we put laminate in there. The cabinets are a biscuit/cream color...

The kitchen has Wilsonart Crystalline Onyx:

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The master bath has Wilsonart Jeweled Opal:

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The cream colored cabinets in our sewing room have Smoke Quarstone:

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Here is a link that might be useful: My kitchen pics


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

"Ours might be the concrete-looking counters referred to by Desertsteph."

yes, it was yours rhome. both of those laminates in the ILs house look good to me also! great choices for the BS of both.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I'd make sure to look at all the laminate choices and pick your fave. There are so many choices that you will be sure to find one or several that you like. I'd skip the bs and just paint back there. Any money you spend on a kitchen that you plan to rip out will be wasted, so I'd put less in so that I could be that much closer to the "dream" one. OTOH - if you are handy and patient, you can haunt the clearance aisles of the stores near you or the local Habitat for Humanity Restore (they have great tile choices in the near me) to find something that works for the meantime and DIY it. Don't invest in anything you already plan to throw out.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I have been happy with mine:

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By the way

By the way, it sounds like we had similar situations. Mine is a 1990s kitchen with baby blue formica, and I went with the beveled edge as well to avoid seams.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

@Mirz2000,
I love your Laminate countertop! My husband and I are actually very interested in the Antique Mascarello. We have 96 sq ft of countertop so granite or quartz is just not in the budget.

Do you mind my asking what composite sink you bought? Is it Brown or Black (I can't tell color very well)? Also, your faucet. LOVE IT!!

Thanks!!


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Laminate can be a very nice choice. My mom has a laminate, similar to Rhome's sewing room, in her kitchen. With the darker laminates, you really don't see the seam along the front, as you might with lighter colors...so why spend extra money for the rolled edge?

In your situation, I'd pick laminate, in a flash. In fact, I'm thinking about Arborite in a very pretty blue, when I remodel my kitchen :)


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I love laminate! I have a mix of materials.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I've been on this forum for 10 years and have seen tons of pictures of great-looking laminate counters. The one thing that's common to almost all of them is that they don't have an integrated backsplash.

Do with that what you will!


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

We did the ever popular Formica Butterrum in etchings finish with flat deck (no integrated backsplash) and wrap under edge (much more resistant to moisture and delamination issues) with a Cafe Brown Silgranit sink and ORB faucet. I've been very happy with all of it. The butterrum hides dirt and crumbs just enough, the sink is indestructible and hides everything, and the flat deck means we can do a backsplash later if we choose.

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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

My Mom's kitchen was conducive to using a post-form
laminate (one seam and it isn't the full depth of the counter). My mom used the Geneva Edge and no integrated back splash. Hers is Iron Rust in the now discontinued Riverwash finish from Formica. My Mom is a very practical person and there was nothing that other counter top materials offered that she thought was worth paying more for. Aesthetically and practically this wasn't a compromise.

Looks and feels like a cool laminate:

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For the sink we used a deckless drop in and mounted the faucet on the counter top using the deck plate:

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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Mr Craig Cabinfo: that's just about the sweetest love story I've ever read. I sure hope those counters did the trick.

I agree that straight edges are good. I have straight and ogee both and I'm wondering whether the ogee was kinda silly. Edges are to sweep stuff over, not look pretty ;)


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high, high pH

p.s., I'm sure you figured this out by now, but I'm pretty sure concrete is really, really basic - pH of 12 or 13? Ouch. Your hands must have been seriously burned; I hope they're alright now.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I do not care for laminate that is trying to look like something else.

But I do like some laminates, especially the linen look ones. I tried to find one like you see in the celebrity beach house below, to no avail. But my old thread may have some useful links

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Here is a link that might be useful: my search for laminate


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I was all set to get laminate, but I was struggling with the edge since I wanted a straight edge and I would have that line where the other color peeks through. By the time I did the higher quality laminate and the upcharge for the edge, as well as a treatment for the undermount sink, it started getting pricy. I decided to do granite on the perimeter and wood on the raised counter. That made it about $1,000 more than the laminate, and that was going with a fairly pricey (but not exotic) granite.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I would love to see more photos of your laminate countertops. I've decided that is the way to go budget wise. Talked to the cabinet guy about it today and he seemed surprised that I would want the same 4 inch, curved rise onto the backsplash that I already have. He said that is what cheap apartments use. He said it should just stop at the backsplash (which for me is a painted wall) or, they could add four inches up the wall, but of course there would be a seam. He seemed to think the "rolled" look wasn't a good one (tho of course he can do it for a fee.)

So I'm curious what the back of everyone else's laminate looks like? I do see a lot that just end.... dont run up the wall.

And for those that have fancy edges on the front.. who built it? The cabinet guy had that funny peeved look when I asked about that. Is it better to get a countertop guy who specializes in laminates to do it?

Last question (hope I'm not hijacking this thread), I hear Wilsonart is better than Formica. I heard Formica is more "brittle" whatever that means. Any thots on that?


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

>And for those that have fancy edges on the front.. who built it?

You know, I don't love either granite or laminate particularly, but I was in HD the other day and I was really impressed with their preformed laminate grab-and-go counters. If you like the dark orange/brown/red granites, these were very plausible and they had them with ogee edges, too. I was impressed.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Mtnrdredux- I believe that's the aqua boomerang, which seems very popular, but according to the link...is being discontinued. Probably more faux granite will be marketed, instead. I say let laminate look like laminate :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to Aqua Boomerang


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Karen, I was under the impression that the fancy edges come that way from the factory; your cabinet guy may not have the right equipment to form them that way. A friend of mine is getting new laminate & cabinets from a local guy and her only option was flat edge. When I got quotes from our local appliance store that also does cabinets and countertops, as well as at Home Depot & Menards, there were edge options. I agree that the attached backsplash is out of style (was it ever in style or that was just the way they had to be?). Funny that he'd charge you extra to add it, though. I was told eliminating it would be a custom charge, but my shallow size already made it custom.

Have you done a search for laminate countertops? If you type the following into Google, it brings up all sorts of great threads.

site:ths.gardenweb.com laminate countertops

Here is a link that might be useful: Google search for laminate countertops on GW


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I just refreshed my kitchen this winter, and added new Formica Basalt Slate. I am very happy with it.

IMG_0388

basalt slate formica


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Karenlk10, We have Wilsonart and Formica in our house. We didn't have any of the 'premium' Wilsonart line, and my dh much preferred the thickness and workability of the Formica to the Wilsonarts we chose. There are different levels of quality within each manufacturer's offerings.

We stopped ours at the wall in all cases, and did tile backsplash for most (But we just stopped at the wall without backsplash in the sewing room, for desk areas, and there is no backsplash yet along our main sink run in the kitchen).

Another idea: My parents wanted the easiest care approach, and in their house, had the laminate go up the wall to meet the upper cabinets...But it had a seam where it met the wall... it wasn't curved up the wall.

If you have a seam and go 4" up the wall, you can do one of 2 things...You can apply it to the wall with a special edging at the top (metal or vinyl), or you can have the installer put it on a 3/4" substrate (with laminate on the face and top edge), which makes it looks similar to when someone does a 4" granite backsplash.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Here are some beautiful laminate counters with pretty
edges. But... I believe the edges can get pricey.
~boxer

Formica

Formica

Gilbraltar

Formica

Formica Madras Indian Slate

Butterrum Formica

Perlato FOrmica

Wilsonart

Jeweled OPal Wilsonart

Canyon Passage Wilsonart

White Wilsonart

Sedona Wilsonart

Night Passage Wilsonart

Dessert Passage Wilsonart

Bella Capri Wilsonart


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

All stunning examples everyone! I just thought I would add to at least get pricing on whatever countertop material you truly love. Just to see. I was looking at the Formica 180fx as well, and yes it is more expensive than regular laminate. Then I decided to at least get a price on granite. I was shocked! I got my granite, which is what I truly wanted for only a few hundred more than the 180fx. I also have a friend who really wanted marble. She found a lovely remnant piece for a great deal which she put on her island and the perimeter is laminate that compliments the marble beautifully. We are both quite pleased. My oak cabinets were still in great shape so I decided to keep them. They don't look like the same cabinets with my new countertop. Good luck! This is the fun part of kitchen facelift!


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

SJMSLM: Thank you!! The sink and faucet are both black, but I think a dark brown would look good too. I don't remember the name of the sink, but I bought it at Home Depot, along with the faucet. I was surprised that granite composite was not that much more expensive than stainless steel, and it is so attractive in person.

I actually really wanted the rounded edge, but because of the corners in my counters, I would have had two more very noticeable seams, so I went with beveled. If your layout allows, I think the rounded edges are pretty neat looking, though.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

The second edge (picture 2) is something called Gem Loc which is a part solid surface edge you can match to the laminate top (though in the pic it is with a solid surface - see sink - for laminate you often see it with a solid on the edges and then you use your laminate in the middle). It is an applied edge like the bevelled edges not post form. The counter top place we worked with ordered post-form tops from a company (they got my Mom's through Belanger Laminates). The did custom tops as well though they did not do set on edges accept for the applied laminate edge.

I dealt with one local counter top place that post formed their own edges but the only did one edge style.

One of the fancy edges (the one in the pic of Formica Indian Slate) doesn't wrap around (just like the the old no drip edges many of us have) I was advised numerous times not to get that edge as it is easy to catch something and chip it.

Here is a link that might be useful: loticorp


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Glad to see that there are others who like laminate. I want to tile behind mine. I see that all of these don't have the backsplash (the additional 6" or so squared against the wall). Question: has anyone taken off that backsplash so that they could tile square to the surface of the counter? It doesn't look to me like it would be difficult to do but don't want to get into something not so good.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

It depends on what you mean. If you're talking about removing the separate 4" backsplash from older formica, no problem. If you mean chopping the integrated backsplash off the preformed stuff, that's a lot trickier.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Mine is the first Perlato Granite. There was no pre-made backsplash. It's tiled right down to the formica.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I am surprised that the faux stone Formica 180fx was close to price of stone. We never even priced stone, but our whole bill for materials and labor was $1500 and our counterspace is very large. But we knew the workman--did he cut us a price? We found a good Internet price also.

Did you get a second opinion? Did you need a funky edge that pushed the bill up?


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Butterum here. I've loved the look but now that I'm thinking about painting my cabinets white it wouldn't be too expensive to rip them out and go with something slate-y-ish!

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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

These posts have been tremendous help w/ ideas....how about costs in your area? Since my original post, I got a quote for the Formica 180fx installed, with me doing the rip-up and haul away of the existing counter and sink. $37/sq ft., in KC where basic granites start at $35/sq ft installed. This included the beveled edge. I was pretty sad to find there's not much difference from the solid surfaces... :(

I'm starting to think my expectations and budget for countertops needs to be reset. :)


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Yes, in my area formica is disproportionately expensive now too, unless you buy the grab and go preformed counters and do your own installation. Like corian it's stayed close to the same price while granite and all have dropped tremendously.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I'm one of those who just doesn't care for laminate... Just not my thing at all, the "feel" of it really turns me off even when the look is okay. So if it looks like it won't save you enough $$$, how about a wood countertop? There was a GWer (forgot the name) who did an amazing job with Ikea BB and India ink. Why don't you look into a wood countertop and dye it with India ink and seal it with Waterlox, like they did? Looked awesome! I wish I could link it but this iPad will lose my post if I start clicking around to find that thread... Maybe someone can chime in on this thought?


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I JUST came across MaryLynnNC's kitchen in the FKB and then saw this post! What timing! I hope it's OK that I post a pic of it here. It's Pionite Bianco Marble Laminate.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Hey i remembered the GWer with the BB/India Ink.... It is brickmanhouse. Stunning kitchen and not much $$$$ for those gorgeous counters!


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

There's good laminate out there. You can be the judge if it looks decent, but I'll be surprised if you can't find some that you like. You can order 3x5 samples for free online or buy 8x10's. The better laminates have more realistic patterns, more color variations, varying texture/reflections, and should last longer. The sheets can also cost twice as much.

Have you thought about doing the countertops yourself? I recently DIY'ed my laminate countertops with Wilsonart HD. I didn't feel like it was that difficult, albeit it was nerve-wracking as there's a few steps that aren't too forgiving to goof-ups so I spent a lot of time planning/worrying about them. If you're interested I can go into more details and provide links.

In our case DIY'ing allowed us to do the job with several upgrades. Even after purchasing the sink and faucet it came out less than what we were quoted for the 'basic grade' laminate with just a sink cutout.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

The countertops in brickmanhouse are STUNNING. I love this idea. wondering about the practicality of butcherblock...upkeep?

Yes, I was originally attracted to the laminate because its very DIY (and my FIL is a carpenter, so this is no sweat). Though the installed vs raw material difference Lowe's quoted us made me think it wasn't worth my time to install...material was still $28/sqft, an extra $10 to install.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

tournant - just rip those things out and send on over to me...

tho, if i switch to turquoise cabs it won't look so good, will it? dang...


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I have seen laminate glued onto very nice looking apple core plywood (baltic birch probably) and the plywood edges are exposed and finished with urethane. This is an amazing look to a modern kitchen. I have seen this in multiple DIY homes done by architect/designer types. My guess is that this is quite inexpensive given that this often appears to be DIY job. I have no idea how expensive this type of treatment is.....

I don't think it will look 'good' with typical builder grade cabinet, howevever.

I burnt my laminate by putting hot lids on the counter from the stove, not the hot pot! I did not think the lid (even if it was hot) would burn the counter. I think this is one of the biggest reasons why people don't like using laminate, so easy to burn.

If you go to this web site, this is the one with red counter.

Here is a link that might be useful: kerf design


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

a yr or so ago our HD priced non FX laminate at about 22.00 installed. I know the FX was quite a bit more.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

Well, hopefully I will let you know soon. My husband is building our laminate counters this weekend (fingers crossed). I decided to do this after I realized that 1. I have always really liked the functionality of my laminate counters, 2.) Putting hot pans on counters was no biggie for me since I have always lived in homes where I couldn't do this (laminate, corian, butcherblock), and 3) We have 77 square feet of surface to cover. The price was pretty hefty for me since I didn't absolutely love any granite. I love soapstone, but I also don't want to pay that much money because I am not sure that I can "embrace the patina" like others have done. In the end, I have no issues with laminate, except for the edges. My husband is building it, so the edges should be less noticible than with factory edge. I also went with Pionite, since it is high pressure laminate and offers a little more heat resistance.

Total cost for 77 square feet for materials will be right around $550. That includes the laminate sheets, adhesive and plywood substrate. We did plywood instead of mdf because it isn't that much more and it was better for areas that might get a little water.
Fingers crossed.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I meant to say we bought Arborite, not Pionite. We did look at both, though.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

KCRemodeler,

That price for materials seems high. I just calculated my install an it was under 20 sq/ft which includes the wilsonart HD laminate, bevel front edging, bevel backsplash, plywood, glue, screws, cement, rollers, odds and ends you never budget for... everything but the trim router. I also have some materials leftover that will go towards my two bathrooms at a later date which will drop that sq/ft price some. We also opted for an undermount, which would've added labor cost.

It might depend on your kitchen layout as that dictates how much scrap is leftover vs how much can be reused elsewhere. I can see wide islands or large L's being a problem with waste, and I didn't have any of those. In addition to lowes/HD quotes check some online venues as well (my experiences with bevel-edge.com were good. Prices were more or less competitive and their bevel edge shipped 10" longer than HD could without switching to freight shipping). Seize the big-box stores during sales - they seem to run regularly.

I guess another factor to consider is lead time. We were quoted a lengthy lead time which seemed ridiculous plus was going to cause scheduling issues and ultimately delay the end of our project. It took about a week for supplies to come in and I was able to do the fabrication and install in a weekend.

HTH, good luck in your decision!


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

I second finding a countertop fabricator outside of the big box stores. When we were going that route, he quoted us $2000 for our 77 sq feet with the Formica Quarstone RW (before that was discontinued). That included measurements and install.

Lowes wanted $3800 for the same thing.

Of course we are still paying $1400 less than the countertop fabricator by doing it ourselves, but his price was still much more reasonable than HD or Lowes.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

My formica counter, installed in the late 80's is ugly, but still going strong - no chips, or burns. I did get some bleach on it which removed the color, but other than that, it has been a hard working, easy to care for surface. I hope you enjoy yours! I'm sure it will look great and you can be proud for the money you saved.


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RE: such thing as good looking laminate counters?

YES! I absolutely LOVE my Wilsonart high definition laminate. It is beautiful, sturdy, thicker than regular laminate, and was very cost effective for a beautiful remodel. Laminates have come a long way and they are a wonderful material to use at a reasonable price. Not spending an arm and a leg, you can feel more free to trade your counter top out if you tire of the color and want to try something new. The material is so wonderful though, it is almost carefree (just don't take a knife blade to it. Mine looks as new today as it did several years ago when we first installed it.


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