Laminate Countertops and Surfaces
Can you believe these are little snapshots of modern laminate?
Though I work for The Artisans Group, I don’t typically work directly in our Design Center. Today as I was passing through, not unlike our dog on a visit to Petsmart, my eyes were roving over all the colors and textures while quickly cataloging little mental notes of “oh, yeah, THAT would be fun…” and “mm hmm, those are going on the wall behind my range…” and before I knew it I had a full remodel worked out in my mind, despite that I just had a full remodel less than a year ago. So many choices… so few kitchens.
I found myself lingering over the laminate countertop display, oh, the colors were fabulous! Given our protracted, uncured-concrete-colored winter season, I find uplifting color selection cheaper than medication.
Given all the luscious to exotic to old school choices for countertops these days, (granite, marble, solid surface, recycled glass, concrete, wood, bamboo, marmoleum, and so on), I was really impressed with how classy and updated the laminate looked. I wondered how good ole new- fashioned laminate stacked up next to the other options I mentioned. Is it ‘green’? Is it the same as what my Grammy had on her countertops back in the 60’s? Just how ‘stylish’ is laminate anyway?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a salesperson at The Artisans Group, so I can ask the silly questions with a straight face. Apparently, we have more and more clients looking to brands such as Formica and Wilsonart for their selections. I learned that there is a lot of value in a laminate surface, they offer a dizzying array of rich colors and textures and are super functional, oh, and cost effective too!
I understand that there is a ‘modern’ trend in architecture these days, which is in part responsible for the rebirth of laminate. It seems the stylish, clean, colorful line of laminate can be quite a nice match with many ‘modern’ design elements, it’s actually not uncommon to see it in high-end homes anymore. In contrast to that, we’ve installed the copper ‘metallic’ laminate in a mid-century Craftsman kitchen as a backsplash and it was the perfect compliment to the warm wood throughout the rest of the kitchen. Laminate is more versatile than I thought.
In terms of sustainability, it turns out that there are ‘greener’ options out there when it comes to countertops. But, all things considered, laminate surfaces should not be ruled out based singularly on ‘greeness’. It should be noted that some companies are using recycled content in their products, which makes a big difference. Also, depending on how another product may be installed compared to a ‘green’ installation of laminate, the laminate could conceivably win out. I also learned that we offer installation methods that improve the issues surrounding indoor air quality. This is what we recommend to clients:
- Substrate- Avoid using particleboard, MDF, and interior grade plywood- All of these can off-gas VOC’s for years. If you do choose one of these materials make certain it gets sealed with a low or no-VOC paint or sealer prior to installation.
- Substrate- Do Use: Exterior grade plywood, solid wood, or formaldehyde-free MDF
- Use solvent free adhesives
- Reuse and Recycle Old Materials—As much as 85 percent of the construction waste sent to landfills can be recycled and used in other construction projects. If you’re tearing up an old countertop to put in a new one, be sure to reuse what you can (old trim, etc.), and send any recyclable waste materials (such as reusable ceramic tile) somewhere besides the dump.
All that said, after looking at the samples and getting ‘educated’ by by one of our interior designers, I realize the potential application for laminate is almost limitless. I particularly like the idea of using it on vertical surfaces for durability, easy clean up and good looks. Seems to me laminate has a lot going for it… and I do love the colors!
Below are links to some of the manufacturers out there… I particularly enjoyed looking at the super cool products by Abet Lamninati.
Posted on October 29, 2009