In these difficult economic times I find clients are looking for ways to reduce their cost of remodeling. One thing to consider is laminate countertops (Formica, Wilson Art, Nevamar, etc) with a bevel edge or one or Formica brand's "Ideal Edges"instead of stone and solid surface countertops (granite, marble, quartz-stone, Corian, etc.). Yes, this is the plastic laminate known by the household name of Formica that many of us grew up with. The complaints about them is that they scratch (true), are not heat resistant like stone (true), can stain (unlikely), the seams come apart (sometimes) and most often, "it looks cheap." I agree that both the postformed (the one-piece rolled edge and backsplash) and square edge (where you see the black line along the edge) do look cheap but if you have ever seen a beveled edge or Ideal Edge top in the new granite patterns you might be very surprised. I have put these in many homes and friends and neighbors who stopped by have asked, "What kind of granite is this?"
These tops run 40% to 70% less than the cost of a typical stone top. In other words, a typical granite job runs around $4,000 and up. A comparable bevel edge laminate top will run $1,200 to $2,000. That's a big difference!
With the introduction of Corian in the 1980's and then granite in the 90's Formica got, in my opinion, a bad rap. Formica (and the other brands) had served homeowners well for over 40 years (it replaced linoleum as the primary counter material) but once Corian and stone became readily available suddenly everyone hated Formica. The funny thing is I have recently pulled out several Corian tops to be replaced by granite because the people didn't want "that cheap Corian stuff"! However, due to the cost factor laminates are making a come back. So, here's some pros and cons:
- Far less expensive (you could use laminate tops and replace them 2-3 times for the cost of one granite top)
- Granite patterns are very real looking compared to the old patterns (see Formica FX180 at http://formica180fx.com/ and Wilsonart at http://www.countertop.com/laminate/)
- No black line or phony looking curved edges
- If built right can be built without a seam (depends on overall size but laminates are available in up to 5' x 12' sheets)
- Durable with reasonable care
- Can be ready to install immediately after the cabinets are installed (the other tops usually need to be templated and can take 1 to 3 weeks before they are installed - that's a long time to be without a sink!)
- Seams can delaminate (if done poorly)
- Can do undermount sinks and the sink manufacturers seem to have dealt with the potential water issues very well. Sources: Karran Blanco WilsonArt (there are others - just google undermount sinks)
- Can scratch (so can Corian and some stones)
- Not heat resistant (using a trivet or hot pad eliminates this problem)
Laminate tops are not for everyone but if you're looking to save money this is one good place to at least consider.
We build these at The Cabinet Guy, LLC and would be glad to quote you a price.