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Plastic Laminate Countertops

Plastic laminate countertops are manufactured using heat and pressure to combine layers of paper between two sheets of clear plastic, creating a tough surface that is then attached to a fiberboard or plywood backing.


Laminate countertop provides simple backdrop for dramatic kitchen sink. Photo: Kohler

The plastic protects the paper, which often has a decorative pattern and color, from scratches and moisture.

Used indoors from the bathroom and kitchen to the garage and laundry room, plastic laminate is a popular application because it is affordable, stain-resistant, easy to clean, and comes in a wide range of decorative choices.

The long list of options-from minimalist white to bold patterns and colors-continues to increase as design trends change. Today, plastic laminate can complement any decor imaginable due to its ability to also mimic other surfaces, including wood, stone, and metal.

As versatile as plastic laminate is, it has its drawbacks. It should not be used as a cutting surface, nor should hot pots be placed directly on it. Care should also be taken with cleaning fluids as certain chemicals can blister it. Minor blemishes can be fixed, but repairs may not blend in completely. Plastic laminate will also show the seam where two pieces meet.

Also keep in mind that all plastic laminates are not created equal, so choose carefully for the qualities that are most important to you. More-durable types are made with additional layers of paper between the sheets of plastic, producing a surface with greater impact resistance. Others are fire-retardant, chemical-resistant, or less likely to scratch. Still others hold color throughout, so scratches and seams are less visible.

Featured Resource: Get a Pre-Screened Local Laminate Countertop Installation Contractor

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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