Fess up, who else loves their laminate counters?
I've been agonizing for weeks over what countertops to get for my kitchen. If any of you recognize my name from the other posts, I am the one who is a slob, who wants something low maintenance, and...here's the rub...I live in a very nice house. Not a McMansion, but a very nice house.
I keep thinking that I *should* get granite, even though they don't sound perfect for me.
I've looked at several other materials (SS, copper, Corian, Quartz) - they all have something about them that I don't like.
Right now I have laminate. But you know what? I really like them. They are so EASY. And guess what else...I just realized that my kitchen table has a laminate top - so EASY and still looks great after 20+ years (the sides are real wood, which I have to oil occasionally - and they look like faded crap next to the top).
So what's my problem? Why don't I just succumb and get laminate again?
I don't know.
Is it form over substance? Am I worried about resale (guess what, *we* bought this house without even thinking about the countertops - the layout, location, general niceness of the house were the deciding factors, not the countertops).
It's not the money - I can afford granite or whatever I want.
I just keep turning my nose up at the laminate. So declasse. Or so everyone says.
But since I haven't found anything else I *LOVE* why should I spend a ton of money to impress someone else?
Does anyone else have laminate and secretly really, really like them?
Maybe it's just from growing up with good old laminate/formica, but would you ever really want to cut directly on your countertop? With granite you'll just ruin your knife instead of your countertop. I guess a knife is cheaper/easier to replace, but it just seems like cutting directly on the countertop is bad and inconvenient any way you slice it (see what I did there? HAH!)
I'd be more worried about burning/scorching it (see cayjohan - confessed incorrigible setter-down of hot pots below). I keep a couple of those tempered glass "cutting boards" on either side of the stove for just those occasions :-)
I have laminate on one half of my kitchen island (we have two levels to the island), and I love it. Really love it. Primarily for the color, a deep, rich persimmon color with a subtle granite-y visual texture, but also for how low maintenance it is. I agonized over it, yes, but I haven't looked back. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
That said, the other half of my island is surfaced with a repurposed slab of marble, my countertops are surfaced with 13x13 tiles (I am an incorrigible setter-down of hot pots and know I would scorch laminate), and I have a seriously large maple cutting board surface, as I would never chop on any laminate. Each surface to its own use. And no, my kitchen is not a high-end renovation and not very large. We've just really thought about how we use it.
Why not think of multiple surfaces for your kitchen? Butcherblock in one area, a marble or granite surface in another, and the laminate for the areas you want color and easy maintenance?
Laminate is not really so declasse. Check out some of the aspirational kitchen mags and books and your retailers. Beautiful things are being done with laminates.
Plus: you're the one cooking in your kitchen and living in your house. You don't have to impress anyone else!
You should tune out the noise and march to your own drummer. It's your kitchen so get whatever you like. Kitchens are personal and should reflect you, not what somebody else says you should get.
I personally dislike the appearance of granite and couldn't live with it so I can appreciate your reluctance.
Don't worry about resale. If your house is at the higher end of the market, most people will redecorate anyway, and as long as the kitchen is in modern, useable condition, they won't be scared off. They can replace laminate more easily than an outdated granite countertop in a color that they loathe.
And I say "outdated" with reason. Granite has been trendy for some time now but it has become a very mass-market, "builder standard" counter surface and is being replaced at the high end by more fashionable materials. It will remain a functional choice, as have laminate and other materials, because of its durability but it won't retain its dominance as the "gotta have" in middle class kitchens.
We just threw out stacks of recent shelter and decorating magazines. Few of them had kitchens with granite countertops. They all featured other stones - natural and manmade - as well as tile, concrete, wood, metal and a few other artsy-fartsy custom things. Some were wonderfully creative and very personal. There was a lot of laminate, still a big favorite after decades because of its versatility and design potential. You can do more with it than about any other material, especially the solid core laminates in custom applications. Look up the dictionary definition of "plastic." It's a good thing - a damned good thing when used properly by a good designer. Of course it's often much more expensive than granite but the look is so much better.
Many of the very personal kitchens in the high end magazines used a combination of surfaces. You can have a section of butcher block for prep and a marble slab for pastry work. Areas next to your cooktop can be heat resistant materials.
Or you can do the entire kitchen in your favorite color of custom-fired tile. Why would you want such a limiting material as granite?
Laminate is a great choice. I've got it in two houses. The white laminate in one is more than 20 years old and in perfect condition. I don't "secretly" love it - I openly do. For both form and function. I couldn't have had the curves and cantilevers on my island with the weight and material constraints of stone.
I use cutting boards and trivets and have never had the least problem with my laminate. Yes, sometimes my kitchen looks like there's been a food fight, especially when my kids cooked, but it cleaned up like a dream. I'd get it again in a minute.
I redid the non-existent kitchen in my 1896 built home back in 1978, on a shoestring budget, but with decent quality. I have a marble slab at hip height in the island, and formica on the rest of the surfaces. It would still be in great shape in all locations were it not for my subsequently acquired/birthed DH and 2 teens, who are not always diligent about using cutting boards. But the subtle pattern in various shades of cream and beige pretty much hides everything.
I agree with the previous posters about figuring out how you will use the different surfaces, and feeling free to use different materials as appropriate. The counter over our dishwasher, which has a sink on one side and the slide-in stove on the other is the most used, by far. I wouldn't want stone there.
Good luck, p.j.
Yes, I should follow my heart and head. I was being a lemming. I've decided to really slow way down, becasue I don't NEED to redo my kitchen right now, I just wanted to. I've decided to wait until each appliance dies, replace it in situ, then get new counters to accomodate around the new appliances. My kitchen is pretty big but not enormous (12 x 12, but designed like hexagon with lots of angles counters) - it's poorly designed - sink, oven, fridge, and cooktop are all in different places, really too far apart. I really need to rethink the whole design before I rush out and buy something I'll regret. Thanks all.
Based on what you have just written about the awkward design of your kitchen, I would encourage you to visit some kitchen design places, maybe get some books from the library, and figure out the best layout for how you work in your kitchen before you start replacing appliances.
Develop a plan. It sounds as though money is not an issue, so give yourself the gift of a functional kitchen! You may want a different sized stove or fridge if you have to replace them. Perhaps a second dishwasher. Then you can worry about the countertop material. And don't be a lemming. Buy and enjoy what will make you happy!
Me! I love my laminate counters! You're right - they're easy to live with. And, because they're so cheap, they're easy to replace.
I say go with laminate, since you really like it. It's now available in many upscale options. And, when you go to resell your house, you can slap in new counters and still save thousands!
And remember - those granite-and-stainless kitchens are going to look terribly dated in just a few years...
My thinking exactly. I've been looking for new countertops to repalce tile myself and just don't think I want to go with the granite fad, stainless might be a bit too industrial and expensive. I grew up in kitchens with laminate, never had a scorch mark or chip. Given the vriety available now I'll probably look long and hard at it.