Laminate Countertop Prices
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Plastic laminate counters account for over 75% of the countertops installed in the U.S. These products are produced in a process that uses layers of kraft paper, decorative papers and melamine resin and bonds them under high pressure. The manufacturing of the plastic laminate is done in high volumes for the economical advantage. The laminated sheets are then glued to a 45-pound density particle board substrate with PVA adhesives. The exposed upper surface of plastic laminate counters can be of any color or pattern.
Plastic laminate counters are easy to install and inexpensive to replace. The wide range of color and style options offered by many manufacturers of plastic laminate counters has made this material a popular choice in residential kitchens for many decades.
Average Cost Per Finished Square Foot
Minimum = $25.41
Maximum = $35.88
In addition to the cost of the plastic laminate counters, homeowners undertaking this project will have some additional expenses to plan for. Supplies such as adhesives, sandpaper, screws and wood backing adds an average of $3.20 per finished square foot of plastic laminate countertop. The average hourly cost of labor for professional installers to place a plastic laminate countertop is $54.84. These installation costs are for a basic installation involving up to two seams, a cutout for one sink and one faucet and the installation of finished edges around the perimeter of the countertop. The addition of additional cutouts, installation of a backsplash or a complex configuration increases the amount of time required for the project and increases the labor costs.
Plastic laminate countertops are produced in a highly mechanized and automated system. One machine cuts and feeds the particle backing board while another machine applies adhesives to one side of the board and one side of the plastic laminate sheet. The machinery situates the sheet of plastic laminate to produce an overhang, which creates the finished edges of the product. Another machine forms a curved backsplash. A finish is applied as the final coating of the plastic laminate surface. The finish is typically a layer of clear plastic sealant that makes the surface of the laminate impermeable to moisture. The pieces are then cut into common lengths such as 8 to 12 feet for ease of installation.
There are many styles, patterns, colors and finishes of plastic laminate countertops available to homeowners. Different manufacturers use slightly different materials and processes to produce similar products. Many of these products and processes are patented. The most common types of plastic laminate countertops are high pressure laminate and low pressure laminate. High pressure laminate exposes the laminated decorative top sheet to pressures of greater than 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch of surface. Low pressure laminates are exposed to 400 pounds of pressure per square inch of surface.
There are over 70 grades of plastic laminates in production, but only a few are useful for plastic laminate countertops. The laminates used in counters are selected for their mechanical strength and resistance to humidity and pressure. The higher the grade, the greater the mechanical strength. The lower the grade, the better it is as an insulator of heat and sound. The most common grades used in plastic laminate countertops are:
G-5: This grade offers heat resistance, is durable and works as an electrical insulator.
G-7: This grade also offers heat resistance as well as resistance to humidity.
G-9: This type of plastic laminate is strong, durable and resistant to heat and humidity.
There are many manufacturers of plastic laminate countertops. Each manufacturer makes a variety of product lines and different combinations of colors, patterns and finishes. Homeowners can select from popular brands of plastic laminate countertops including:
Formica: This patented brand of plastic laminate countertop has been used in kitchens since the 1950s. Major product lines of Formica include standard laminate, finish collections and specialty laminate. Styles of Formica include imitation wood grain, marbling and solid color.
Arborite: The unique feature of Arborite is that it uses 22 percent post-consumer waste as recycled content. It does not contain any formaldehyde. Arborite is certified by Greenguard and NSF. It is available in imitation granite, bronze, metallic and flecked finishes.
Pionite: Pionite product lines include standard laminate; ChemGuard, which is a chemical-resistant surface; DecoCor, which is meant for mostly decorative use; Fire Rated, which is intended for commercial and industrial use; and Hi-Wear, which offers heavy-duty strength for regularly used surfaces.
Wilsonart: This company produces plastic laminate and solid surface countertops in granite patterns as well as solid colors.
Lamin-Art: The unique feature about these plastic laminates is that banana fibers are used in the production of the layers. It is environmentally friendly and comes in many colors and finishes.
Centuryply: Offers fire-resistant plastic laminate and heavy-duty plastic laminate in a variety of patterns and colors.
Advantages of Plastic Laminate Countertops
The leading advantage of plastic laminate countertops is the price. Plastic laminates are engineered to look like costlier materials but are available at a fraction of the price. These counters resist grease and stains. Cleaning is simple and requires just soapy water. Plastic laminate counters are resistant to dents and dings from falling or heavy objects. The range of colors and patterns ensures that this type of counter can fit into any decorating scheme. Installation of plastic laminate counters is a simple process and takes less time than the installation of other counter materials such as tiles.
Disadvantages of Plastic Laminate Countertops
Plastic laminate countertops cannot withstand the heat of a pan taken directly off the stovetop. The surface can melt or scorch. The laminate cannot be repaired, and damaged sections must be replaced. Color and pattern trends can make plastic laminate look dated after a few years. Dark colors and high-gloss finishes readily show prints and smudges. Water can penetrate the seams of plastic laminate. Abrasive cleaners and knives can scratch the surface of the laminate.
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Last updated on Oct 16, 2014