Countertop Series, Part 1 – Laminate

…and speaking of kitchens:

I got a comment from a reader named Claire the other day that inspired a series of posts about my favorite countertops. Her comment read:

After reading this post last night, I thought about your counter top decision and your style all day. What kind of countertops do you like? I have Formica countertops and need to replace them. I do not really love the look of granite and I can’t see spending that much on something I don’t like, just because other people do, on the off chance it would help me sell my house. I do not have a high end house. Just curious what you like. I love your style.

Since she mentioned laminate in her comment, I thought I’d start by talking about my favorite laminate countertops today.

I’m a big fan of black and white laminate countertops. I think white laminates look really great when paired with black kitchen cabinets:


Here’s a photo of a kitchen with black kitchen cabinets and white marble countertops:


I held up this (Wilsonart® HD® High Definition® Laminate) Carrara Santorini sample against some distressed black cabinets at Lowes so you could (kind of) see how easy it would be to replicate that look:


Especially because you can order them with a similar edge as the marble countertop above:


Here’s another photo I found that shows laminate with an Ogee edge:


Pretty sharp, huh? I definitely think any of the white colors above would be a lovely and cost effective alternative to marble or quartz if they’re not your style, or in the budget.

I also like black laminate on top of white cabinets.


I’m holding up Wilsonart‘s “Oiled Soapstone” in the photo below:


Here’s a photo of a kitchen that has white cabinets and (real) black soapstone countertops:



That’s another look that would be super easy to replicate with Oiled Soapstone laminate, and some black subway tile.

Last but not least, here’s one more photo I found online that shows how chic black and white (or light gray) laminate can look if you decide to go that route:


The only other thing I would add is that when you’re choosing laminates- I’ve read that matte finishes and lighter colors are better at hiding wear and tear. But if you do go with a darker color, just make sure it has a bit of a pattern on it, so that if it does get scratched, it won’t show as much. That said, Kevin and I have had (smooth, minimally patterned) laminate counters in all of our previous homes, and we don’t remember ever seeing any scratches on them- even after cutting things directly on them. (Shhhh!)

I’ll be back with a post about another one of my favorite types of countertops soon!

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Countertop Series, Part 2 - Concrete
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  1. says

    I have black laminate countertops in my kitchen….from a previous before me renovation. When I moved in…I thought they’d be the first thing I would change. They have small small flecks in them…so they look like oiled soapstone but I don’t know what it’s called exactly. After living with them awhile I realized that what I didn’t like about the kitchen was not the laminate countertop but the black and white check tile backsplash. It was just too much…I fixed that by covering just the black tiles with white vinyl. I did this two years ago and it still looks brand new. Now I love my soapstone look countertops! Once I embraced them and decided I needed to enhance them with silver and white accessories and give up on my old kitchen accessories. They are wonderful. They probably are about 16 years old and there is not one scratch. They still look brand new. But I don’t cut directly on them…ever. I do all else…including paint and craft projects. You can see them here –

  2. says

    I have laminate countertops in my kitchen too. I have a black speckled with grey and grey and white cabinets. I wish I had known about that edge when I got mine, it looks great!. Laminate looks great and I’ve been happy with mine for about 6 years now.

  3. says

    Layla, great post. There are so many great options out there! In our previous home we had slate counters which looked great when oiled but dried out pretty quickly and didn’t look so great – would show water and mark. In our new home we have white laminate. It is old school but the kitchen has some updates – new appliances and backsplash. I will say that the white laminate is so easy to clean – I use the all purpose clorox bleach cleaner. I think it we do that counter over that marble effect laminate with the edge looks great! How does the cost compare to marble?

    • Kim A says

      I too have white laminate countertops and if I get a stubborn stain, there is nothing better than a Mr Clean Magic Eraser. I have not found anything it does not remove.

  4. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    I LOVE the black cabinets!!!!!! I have solid cherry (we had limited choices with K. Hovnanian). I would give anything to paint them. My husband cringes!!!! I am a black kind of gal. My granite is a black Laboradite, which I dearly love. It is stunning……….but, oh to have black cabinets too. I cannot wait to watch the cabinet painting posts!!!!!!!!!
    Girlfriend, you always hit the nail on the head!!!!!!
    Thank you for keeping us excited.

  5. Leslie says

    Love this! I recently did a little work in my kitchen (not a total overhaul, just paint and new countertops) and I went with the oiled soapstone laminate with my white cabinets and I love it! I know granite’s all the rage, but I don’t just love it and even though we could afford it, I would rather put that money somewhere else! And real soapstone (also costly) requires quite a bit of maintenance! So, here’s to good ol’ laminate! (I got mine with a rolled edge and I have a white beadboard backsplash!)

  6. Angela says

    I love HD laminate counters! We put them in the house we sold last year and I was so sad to leave them. Now we’ve got corian counters, but they’re scratched to high heaven and I’m incredibly hostile to the fact that my sink is one in the same with my counters. It’s so stained and gross, and nothing fixes it! You’d better believe that as soon as we can, we’re ripping them out and putting in more HD laminate!

    Also, on a side note, our kitchen cabinets are painted white and we have a black countertop, and it does look really sharp. :)

    • Layla says

      Thank you for sharing the info about the Corian counters, Angela! Very good to know!

      • gina says

        I am a fan of laminate, but with corian, you can sand out any stains or scratches. that’s a selling feature they promote.

        • Monica says

          I think we have a Corian sink in the house we moved into last November. There was a major stain which, I think, was caused by a hot pot being placed in the sink. After several months of being irritated, I got out the sander that I was given for Mother’s day, and sanded the bottom of the sink! Well, what do you know; it looks great! No more stain.

    • Betsy Derr says

      How sad, Angela! I’ve had moss green Corian counters with a white sink integrated into it for the past 11 years and I love them! Like Gina also says below, you can sand out scratches. I use a stainless steel pad on mine! Or you could use fine sandpaper. I use good old Ajax in the sink and it still looks brand new. Occasionally I soak the sink filled with water and a bit of bleach. I love my Corian! Hope you can get your scratches out…

  7. says

    Oh, I love that you give laminate ideas! I love your style! We bought our house new, but didn’t get to pick anything in it. It came with black laminate. While I like laminate and didn’t mind the black at first, it shows stuff a lot more than white. We have really hard water and the black shows the hard water spots, which wouldn’t show on white. And with kids (who try to make their own PB&Js), the black counters show every crumb, which drives me nuts. I have a great expanse of countertop (not complaining about that), but I’m constantly wiping off counters and noticing dust/stuff on them. I think if I had white, I probably wouldn’t feel as nutty! When choosing between black and white, I think you just need to take into account what your lifestyle and personality is like. Apparently, I can’t handle black. :) But laminate rocks!

    • Layla says

      VERY good to know, Chrissy! I never thought about how black counters might show every little light colored speck! 😀

  8. says

    I love this look! We are doing a kitchen redo too. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with our dirty beige laminate countertops and honey oak cabinets so I’ve just decided to paint them – BOTH. It’s turning out great! And only $200 when both projects are all said and done! Love the blog, I stumbled upon you this morning when perusing some AL women bloggers and folks they also follow!

  9. Carolyn says

    Sorry, this isn’t related to counter tops.I was wondering about Keith’s built ins around his fireplace. What ever happened with that?

    • Layla says

      As with most home improvement projects around here, that’s still a work in progress, Carolyn! 😀

  10. says

    We have laminate counters that we have been wanting to replace for a couple of years now. (We cracked a piece off when we were taking out our dishwasher.) So we have not been careful at all with it. I put HOT pans on it all the time from the stove or oven and we cut on it all the time. We do have a light color almost white counter-top and it doesn’t show anything. There are a few cut marks, but for all the times we have been cutting on it that is nothing. Laminate is extremely durable in my opinion! We do really like granite and are thinking about selling soon so we will probably go the granite route.

  11. says

    We just tore out our granite tops too. While I do like granite, I think it is almost expected in most kitchens these days. We went with a gorgeous custom pine island and marble surround. I adore it!

  12. Tenacwalker says

    We have had both solid black laminate and real soapstone, both paired with heart pine cabinets. I did not like the solid black laminate *at all* for the same reasons Chrissy mentioned- they literally showed every crumb, every speck of grease and every water spot and I was constantly wiping them down and cleaning them. In our next house we put in a slightly patterned/veined soapstone and I adored it. Even though it was black the slight pattern made all the difference in the world. While I loved the soapstone I would definitely entertain some of the newer black laminates with the patterns. I am sure whatever you do will look fantastic! Here is a picture of the soapstone.

  13. says

    There are other options! We put in wood countertops for most of our kitchen with white cabinets. For the island, we make it more of a focal point by putting a custom concrete top on it. I LOVE the combination of elements and materials. The wood gives a wonderful warm feeling, and the concrete has almost an industrial edge, but was treated to look worn and imperfect. It cleans up easily and looks chic without being precious.
    You can see our full kitchen here:

    • Layla says

      Ooh, I love those options too Rae! This is just the first post in my week-long series, and I’m looking forward to blogging about all my other favs over the next few days! 😀

  14. says

    I love that you are focusing on such an inexpensive alternative. You have really made a great presentation for the use of them and how they would look. Go Layla! That being said I think butcher block counters are beautiful with white or cream cabinets!!! MMS has some in her new kitchen–amazing!
    And I have seen so many times people using IKEA butcherblock counters as an option–featured in magazines too. To me that speaks cottage!!!

      • says

        Oh you lucky duck! The life of a blogger…ahhh :) It is so neat how you all get to know each other and have friendships that grow through the common interests of blogging, decorating, etc. I hope she can make it and have a wonderful time!

        • Layla says

          Me too, Kristin! And I should’ve mentioned, I’m hoping LOTS of bloggers and blog readers will come for a visit in October, too. More details to come about what I have in mind, as soon as everything is set in stone! 😉

  15. says

    I love that you are talking about laminate counter tops. I find it gets such a bad rap but is a great and affordable choice for LOTS of homeowners. We went with a laminate counter top in our kitchen to relocate the budget to afford continuing the hardwood floor in that area instead.

    Ours is a dark grey with a textured surface that is durable and we haven’t had any scratches or problems with it. We don’t treat our counters gingerly at all in the last 3 years we have lived here.

    For me, the visual impact of having the wood floor was more important than the material my counter top was made of. As long as it was pretty and durable, I was sold.

  16. says

    We’ll be doing a kitchen gut in the next month or two and are going to be using laminate for the counters. I’ve done A LOT of research, aka, looking at thousands of pictures online, to find which ones look best in “real life.”
    So far, the Wilsonart Santorini that you mentioned is really nice, but I’m REALLY loving the White Carrera.
    You mentioned the different edge options. Just as an FYI, not all the colors come in all the edge options, as we’ve unfortunately learned in the whole process.
    I did a post with some of the “marble” samples we looked at as options, here:
    For anyone else looking into laminate options, I also have a ton of pictures of kitchens with laminate counters on my Pinterest board here:

  17. says

    Granicrete is a great solution for old counters. Check out Facebook Granicrete by Connelly tile. The look of granite or stone without the price.

  18. Juli P says

    we gutted the kitchen in Grandma’s house (that we live in now) 10 years ago….it was a spur of the moment decision and was done on a budget. I wish I’d taken the time to look around. I wish pinterest existed…..I want white cabinets so badly! but I picked a toffee colored maple cabinet with Wilsonart Ebony Mosaic countertops. Can I just say….UGH! I love the countertops, but HATE the cabinet color! I want to re-do the kitchen, taking out a whole wall, etc. But who has the money for that? not this unemployed chica!

  19. says

    When we were on the hunt for counters for our kitchen reno, I was super surprised to see how many laminate options there were that looked very close to marble. We opted to go with quartz, but it seems like laminate has lots of good options these days for a stylish kitchen, too!

  20. says

    Ok, I’m sinking right into this series. Please oh please show what you’d love with rustic wooden cabs? I went for a blackish granite laminate and while they are super striking together, I find them dark. I’d love to see what you suggest! :)

  21. Nancy says

    We replaced our countertops over 10 yrs ago and they are still going strong. We did consider going with a matte finish, but someone mentioned that they weren’t as durable, so I took some coarse sandpaper to one of the samples and sure enough, it left several noticable scratches whereas the satin finish held up. That being said, the newer matte laminates may be more durable today than 10 yrs ago, but test out freebie samples with some sandpaper.

    Being ever so practical, we choose a bull nose edge with a slightly raised lip on the counters where the sink is located so that any spilled liquids are less likely to drip onto the floor. It was by accident that the counter top for the island has a slightly different profile and find that I prefer the flat-to-the-edge style at the counter that I do the most chopping and cutting. I suppose it would be less of an issue if I had a thicker cutting board. Ahh, details, details…

  22. Kris says

    THANK YOU for this post! We are saving our pennies for a kitchen redo. I love a cottage-y white kitchen and I’m glad to have all of these good tips for a countertop. Our house isn’t in a “granite neighborhood” so I have been leaning toward laminate. I have checked out many of the commenter’s links–you all have such pretty kitchens! Someday …

  23. Nicole K says

    Great suggestions! I do agree, laminate has come a long way and the profiles can add a much more sophisticated look. Definitely get multiple prices, my family is in the counter top and kitchen business and you would be amazed the mark up that the big box stores have. Find a local kitchen store or counter top company and have them price it too. They may not have the fancy show room, so find what you want at Lowes or HD and then have them price the color for you too.

  24. MeL. V says

    Thank you for posting about counter tops. My husband and I are redoing our kitchen this summer and while we really really like solid surface, we’re not sure we can afford it. I’m not a fan of laminate, but I haven’t found any other options.

  25. Lynn says

    I have cream colored cabinets with the Wilsonart HD Luna Night. It looks awesome, exactly the look I wanted. However, I don’t like the bumpiness of the HD, I would really prefer a smoother finish, but I wanted the shine (as granite has) and I got that from the HD.

  26. says

    We are in the process of renovating our kitchens. Earlier this year we replaced our laminate counters with Formica’s 180FX laminate. It’s basically a picture of an actual piece of stone, marble, or granite. So there is no repeat in pattern. We are so pleased with the look as well as the price. I know that many home buyers are looking for granite but I feel that if you can wow them with the look they will forget it’s not granite.

  27. Carrie - Curate by Carrie Corson says

    We are in the process of completing our kitchen renovation in our new home. Much like some of your readers our budget dictated we would be going with laminate. I’m not a fan of most granites. So, I wanted to choose something that looked like Carrera or Calcutta marble. I chose Calcutta Marble by Formica. We also have the Adel cabinets from Ikea. Our countertops were installed last Friday & I am in LOVE:). Unfortunately we have one slight problem that the installer has an extra seem which we were unhappy with, but the are going to fix it for us. Keep in mind laminates normally come in a max length of 12-15 ft. Plan your seems carefully with the company you order from and be sure they order adequate material to install it properly. Look for pics of our kitchen soon on my new website that is going to be launching any day now, Curate by Carrie Corson:)

  28. Vanessa says

    Hiya Layla — I’m so excited by this series of posts! I especially appreciate that you started with laminate (much more our budget).

    Awhile ago I pinned a post by you guys from Jan 25 2012 called “faux marble” as I filed it away for future reference — is there a reason you didn’t mention it here? Have you since seen it elsewhere and no longer like it?

    I’m also curious about people who spend the big bucks on soapstone, granite, marble, etc — won’t it look dated in 10 years? For me the countertops are often one of the first things to date a kitchen and I worry if we did splurge on the counter I couldn’t change it out for a few hundred bucks like you can with laminate.

    My absolute favourite countertop is butcher block, and I’ll def. be using it in my next kitchen. In my current kitchen I have the Ikea butcherblock and love it but *hate* it at the sink. It is impossible to keep water off it and despite regular oiling and trying to be careful there are some permanent water damage :( Any advice from other butcherblock counter people?

  29. Anne Arey says

    How wonderful to have someone be practical about countertops! Not everyone can afford stone and the look is not for everyone-laminate is a great. choice for most of the people I have known. I am old to remember my mother gushing about the wonders of laminate over wood countertops!

  30. says

    ANY solid color will likely show everything. Patterns are a good things for hiding everything – this goes for any surface, not just counters. I LOVE our laminate counters we have had in all our houses. Some were in better shape than others. In our next house we have been thinking about soapstone on white cabinets. I will definitely be looking at the laminate replicas. With kids, I just don’t want to spend a lot of money on counters. SOOO many other things we could use the money on.

  31. Laurie says

    I have the Wilsonart black Oiled Soapstone Formica countertops. When we remodeled/added on the kichen five years ago I selected Wilsonart again, against the advice of our builder who wanted to use granite. The previous Wilsonart counters, were also black with textured surface, which wore like elephant hide, it never showed scratches. Even when my teenagers would cut their sandwiches directly on the counter, despite numberous warnings, of course. In fact, I repurposed these countertops in my potting shed and my husband’s work shop and they still look great. The new black Oiled Soapstone are a smooth surface with a faint mottled gray, which hides smears, also have held up beautiful. One scratch that was caused by sliding something sharp along the counter (done by the infamous “wasn’t me”) was easily hid with a black sharpie. Wilsonart is almost teenager proof and that is one tough countertop.

  32. Brooke says

    I have the oiled soapstone laminate and warm white cabinets and love the look. We are adding subway. If you would like photos, let me know.

    Scratches do show but there is a pattern so it is not noticeable. It does not show every little thing like pure black would.


  33. Julie says

    We have faux butcher block Formica counters that were probably put in when the kitchen was remodeled in the 80s. The texture hides stains, marks, etc. and they’ve been extremely durable ( at least in the last 9 years we’ve lived there).

    I agree with others that I’m not a big Dan of granita, especially the highly patterned varieties, and in the end , it’s not going to change my cooking any!!!

  34. Elizabeth A says

    We remodeled the 1940s kitchen in our last home and I used the WilsonHD Oiled Soapstone with painted white cabinets. We only purchased the flat laminate and stuck it to the plywood underneath ourselves (my dad has done this a ton and it always comes out great). But to mix it up I added a stainless stell piece on the front.

    In our new kitchen we used the WIlsonHD granite (can’t remember which one) and it was so much cheaper than real granite. I love it now, but if I don’t in a couple years I wont be out much to change it again.

  35. Aimee says

    Great post! looking forward to the rest of them!

    For us, Vetrazzo is it. Hands down my favorite countertops! Recycled glass bottles and cement. Can’t beat it! Plus is stunning to look at.

  36. Claire says

    Eeeeek! I am just now seeing this and your series on countertops! I am tickled you do not disapprove of laminate. I think it just the best choice for my house. I had been leaning towards a black or charcoal laminate countertop to go with my white cabinets, open top cabinets (I took the doors off and painted the back to match the walls), and chalkboard wall. It’s affordable and practical and doable. Thank you for the series. I read every word!

  37. says

    Hi Layla,

    This past Fall we did a low budget reno on our tiny kitchen and used a product called Formica 180fx in Calacatta Marble. Our little 1600 sqft-er would not have upheld the value of anything besides laminate. So I convinced the hubby and our handyman that replacing laminate with updated laminate was, in fact, a good idea. Here’s the final product:

    Glad you mentioned laminate as an option, we love ours! As for resale value, our house recently sold in 7 hours… so there’s that. 😉