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Quartz vs. Laminate Countertops

Sleek modern kitchen design with a kitchen peninsula

Homeowners who once might have flocked to quartz now may find themselves also taking a second look at laminate counters. While quartz countertops may add more value to a home than laminate countertops (and they’re more durable), laminate countertops are more affordable to install, among other characteristics in their favor. 

Read on for a breakdown of how to decide between quartz and laminate countertops.

What Are Laminate Countertops?

Laminate countertops are a sandwich of materials. The structural part is a thick slab of MDF particleboard, which you never see because it is covered with a thin sheet of laminate.

The laminate covering is made of an image layer that closely replicates wood or stone—or simply solid colors or patterns—with a clear wear layer to protect everything underneath.

What Are Quartz Countertops?

Quartz counters are a blend of several materials, mostly minerals. They are made with 90-percent or more stone particles, such as marble, quartz, and other stone types. The minerals are mixed with resin, colorants, and fillers (totaling about 7-percent of the material’s content) and heated and compressed into a very hard, durable slab.

Quartz countertop material is homogeneous; it is the same throughout the entire thickness of the countertop.

Comparing Appearances

Both laminate and quartz countertops are often chosen for their stone look, and each material mimics natural stone with different strengths and weaknesses. Both materials are also available in a range of solid colors.

Depth: If the intent is duplicating the look of natural stone’s depth, quartz wins hands down. It should be noted that high-end laminates that try to replicate the look of stone are becoming more realistic all the time. But no matter how expensive the laminate, it may never be able to duplicate quartz’s visual depth because it is not physically deep. 

Veining: The distinctive veining and crystalline structure found in marble and travertine are better represented in laminate than in quartz. Premium laminates can roll the veins over the edge of the countertop as if showing a cross-section of natural stone.

Solid Colors: Quartz comes in a limited range of solid colors and a wider range of flecked colors. Laminate can be found in a much broader range of solid colors, from pastels and soft whites to vibrant oranges and rich grays and blacks.

Cost of Laminate vs. Quartz

Laminate is the clear winner on price. Quartz counters can cost $95 or per square foot, though more economical quartz products are available for $50 to $75 per square foot.

Laminate countertops range from $8 to $20 per square foot.

Quartz and Laminate Durability

Both materials are generally durable and highly stain-resistant, and neither needs to be sealed like natural stone does.  

Quartz is highly abrasion-resistant, under normal conditions, while laminate’s top-most wear layer has long been its weak point. This can be a problem since sharp objects such as knives feature prominently in kitchens.

Regarding heat resistance, both materials can be damaged by relatively low temperatures, even as low as 150 F, given prolonged exposure. A hot, dry pan set down onto either surface is likely to burn it. Heat damage on quartz is difficult to repair; burned or singed laminate cannot be repaired.

Can You DIY Countertop Installation?

Nearly all quartz counters and a majority of laminate counters of quality are professionally installed. It is difficult for homeowners to develop the skill set needed to fabricate and install quartz countertops. Once the learning curve has been established for quartz countertops, the installation is, by that point, finished.

Any laminate that seeks to close the quality gap between quartz and laminate must be professionally installed, too. 

But for handy homeowners, laminate is an easy material to work with and can be cut and finished with standard woodworking tools. Fabricating your own laminate countertop can be very cost-efficient if you have the skills for the job. While you’ll have fewer options, it’s also possible to purchase laminate that’s pre-attached to the MDF, complete with rolled edges or edge banding.

For Legendary Kitchen Remodeling, Legends Home Improvement Is Here To Help

Being realistic about your handyman skills can be a hit to your ego, but you never want to take an unnecessary hit to your bank account either. Therefore, DIY may not be an option. Whether you need help changing light fixtures or want to install a new kitchen island for your friends and family to enjoy in your new kitchen, Legends Home Improvement can help.

We are New Jersey’s choice for high-quality home maintenance, repair, and remodeling craftsmen to help you get the job done right the first time. When you schedule an appointment with our team of kitchen remodeling & renovation specialists, we will develop a design plan you’ll love that fits your budget, and our team will see that plan through with precision. Contact us today to bring your dream kitchen to life.