Laminate Countertops

Laminate Counter Tops
Laminate counter tops are durable and inexpensive.

When you're ready to install laminate counter tops, take time to look over displays to help decide what you like. Go over samples to get a better idea of the color and pattern that will work in your home.

Choose Colors and Patterns

Choosing the laminate for your kitchen countertop takes thought and planning when remodeling, adding on or even for a new construction project. Countertops are a focal point. The right new counter top adds a fresh, distinctive look without costing a fortune.

To make picking the right colors and patterns for your laminate counter tops a little easier and more precise to your taste, ask the dealer or specialist at your local home improvement store if you can take home laminate samples to help you make up your mind. Samples are small.

To be sure the color looks good with your cabinets and flooring, ask to take home about a dozen samples with the color range you want to select from and compare them against your cabinets and appliances to see how they will actually look in your kitchen.

Other Things to Consider

As color and pattern choices are made, take time to consider other available treatments. Also be sure to check whether the laminate you choose is in stock. If not, how long will it take to get it? If it has to be back ordered for 10 weeks and that doesn't fit your timeline, pick another, similar color. Don't let poor planning sidetrack your project.

When picking your counter tops, decide on:

  • Backsplash - do you want it to be the same laminate as your countertop?
  • Edge treatments - ask if your dealer has samples.
  • Is the laminate you like in stock or will it need to be special ordered?

Installation of Laminate Counter Tops

As with any part of a home improvement project, you'll have to decide whether you plan to do the work yourself. If you don't plan to do it yourself, ask the countertop dealer whether they offer fabrication and installation services. If not you'll have to make arrangements to have the work done.

Installing the countertops yourself can range from easy to difficult. Difficulty depends on factors like:

  • Is the backsplash already attached?
  • Does the counter run in a single, straight piece?
  • Does the counter shoehorn between two walls?
  • Does the counter need to be put together to fit into a small space?

Fixing a Poor Fit

If you place your counter up to the wall and find gaps due to an uneven wall, you'll want to fix that. Use a framing square to check the straightness of the walls. To fix gapping, here are a couple of tricks you can try:

  • Use a portable belt sander to remove some of the backsplash if the gap is an eighth of an inch or less.
  • Create a notch in the wall by cutting away at the drywall and then fit the countertop into the notch.

Cutting the Sink Hole

Making a hole for the sink in your counter top requires planning. If you cut the hole too far forward, the front panel of the kitchen cabinet will hinder sink installation. And if you cut the hole too far back, the backsplash will get in the way. To be sure you cut the sink hole in the correct spot, use a piece of masking tape on the counter top to indicate the center line. Once you've determined the correct position for the sink:

  • Use a pencil to create guidelines as to where the edge of the sink basin will rest.
  • Apply a piece of masking tape as a clear marker.
  • Measure inward about 5/16 of an inch and make another mark with your pencil. This marks the edge of your sink hole.
  • Cut the hole using a jigsaw.

Have your counter top in place on top of the cabinet base when measuring, but take the counter outside, into the garage or someplace where you have room and the dust will not be an issue, to actually make the cut. When cutting, keep the backsplash off the ground. You can accomplish this by propping the counter up on 2 x 4 blocks.

Do your cutting from the back side because a jigsaw blade cuts on the upstroke. If you cut from the top side, the blade pulls the laminate into the wood backing, causing it to splinter.

The Cost

The bottom line for many a remodeling project is, "How much is it going to cost?"

Laminate counters differ from other counters, because they are sold by the linear foot rather than the square foot. But within the selection of laminate countertops you'll find differences in price based on whether it is a:

  • Basic post-formed laminate countertop
  • Laminate countertop with a beveled or premium edge

The laminate with a beveled edge can cost as much as twice that of the basic post-formed or more, so as you pick your counter top take this into consideration.

Laminate Countertops