HomeTips & IdeasHome Update IdeasThe New Era of Laminate Countertops & Why They Rock: Review

The New Era of Laminate Countertops & Why They Rock: Review

Posted on April 20, 2021 by KylieMawdsley

The 5 Best Laminate or Formica Countertops

Back in the day (you know, 30 years ago) having laminate countertops meant having a surface that scratched easy and looked like a cheap reproduction of…I don’t even know, something butt-ugly and boring.

Budget friendly kitchen with painted cabinets Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, white subway tile and black laminate countertops. Kylie M Interiors Online Color Consulting and E-design

Nowadays, laminate countertops ‘rock’ because not only are they super durable – they look like the real thing! Quartz, granite, marble, soapstone – you name it, laminate has come a long way in its effort to look like the real thing while staying SUPER budget-friendly!

And while there are a few big names in the laminate countertop world, it’s Formica, Wilsonart and Arborite that stand out as leaders in the style dept. as shown in these photos…

(click on the underlined name to view the product on their website, but please keep in mind that those site images aren’t often great examples)

REMEMBER, countertops usually come in a VARIETY of finishes (matte, etched, honed, etc…) so make sure you see your OPTIONS before you order! 

1. Formica Carrara Bianco 

Carrara Bianco is definitely my fave these days. Mimicking the LOOK of marble, it has a gorgeous white base with subtle gray veining. And remember, EVERY gray will have undertones, so choose yours wisely! These gray veins lean slightly into a purple undertone.

And seriously, its online image is terrible as it looks 1980s tobacco yellow – trust me, it’s not. Check it out below for a real-life view.

Laundry room mudroom with Formica laminate countertop Carrara Bianco, marble look. Pure White walls and cabinets. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour blogger

Other laminate countertops that look similar to marble…

Wilsonart White Carrara (terrible online image)

Formica Neo Cloud

Wilsonart Calcutta Marble

2. Arborite Typhoon Bordeaux

Typhoon Bordeaux is a gorgeous product with its cool grayish-blue tones and rust coloured veining. Because it has a soft white base to it, it’s easy to coordinate with cabinets, flooring and backsplash. This countertop was designed to look like granite.

The Best arborite countertops, Typhoon Bordeaux

Typhoon Bordeaux laminate formica countertop, budget friendly bathroom update ideas. Kylie M Interiors.

Sorry about the terrible photo, but you get the idea

In a bathroom, it’s a soft and subtle way to add some interest. In a kitchen, you won’t have to wipe the counters for days as these bad boys will hide all of your sins!

Looks great with…

  • white or slightly off-white cabinets
  • painted warm gray cabinets
  • natural cherry or espresso cabinets

Countertops with similar intentions…

Formica Crema Mascarello

Wilsonart Bianco Romano

Should you REALLY Paint Your Cabinets White? If so, Which White is Best?

3. Formica Jet Sequoia

Jet Sequoia is a great way to get a high-end, high-gloss look, without breaking the bank. This countertop is predominantly black with a subtle grayish-white vein running through it.

formica 180fx high end laminate in jet sequoia which is black with gray veins. Budget friendly kitchen update idea

Via Formica

Looks great with:

  • cherry cabinets
  • white cabinets
  • painted gray cabinets

Countertops with similar intentions…

Formica Basalt Slate

And while it’s a bit grayer, I also love Formica Paloma Dark Gray

3 Kitchen Countertop Update Ideas: How to Save Money

How to Pick the Best Paint Colour for Your Kitchen Cabinets

4. Formica Soapstone Sequoia 

Soapstone Sequoia is a GORGEOUS warm greige-taupe countertop with cream veining. I used it in our last home when we updated our kitchen (on a budget) and LOVED it.

hexagon subway tile backsplash. Maple cabinets painted Cloud White, soapstone formica countertops and gray quartz with kitchen decor

This countertop was designed to mimic soapstone so it doesn’t have the high gloss finish that you see on some of the other popular countertops. We lived with it for two years before we moved and I loved every minute of it – it hid so many crumbs I rarely had to wipe and was FAR easier to keep looking nice than quartz island countertop.

Shaker maple cabinets painted Cloud White with gray and greige quartz and soapstone look countertops. Hexagon backsplash tile in cream

To see more, check out this blog post… Kitchen Makeover – Maple No More!

A few more countertops with a similar look or colour profile…

Wilsonart Potter’s Clay (looks WAY warmer online)

Formica Silver Quartzite (online image is GROSS, check it out in real-life)

5. Formica Calacatta Marble

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE marble, but the maintenance part of it is a deal-breaker for me. And believe it or not, you can get the lovely look of marble without the hassle with Calacatta Marble by Formica!

Double vanity in bathroom painted Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, hexagon mosaic tile backsplash, Calacatta Marble countertop by Formica. Design by Kylie M Interiors

Calacatta Marble is an imitation marble that almost puts the real thing to shame! And not only does it look great, but it’s also 10x easier to maintain!

Formica 180FX Calacatta Marble laminate countertop with hexagon marble accent tile and Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray painted cabinet by Kylie M Interiors

To see more of this bathroom, check out this blog post… A Marble Inspired Ensuite Bathroom

Looks great with…

Marble – Get the Look Without the High Price

So, you can spend all of your money if you really want OR you can choose one of these uber-fab countertops to update your kitchen and add some serious visual value!

READ MORE

Countertop Update Ideas: High-End Ideas, Low-End Price

The Best Budget-Friendly Bathroom Sinks & Faucets

How to Create a Timeless Trend-Proof Home

The 5 Types of White Paint Colours

Top 4 Kitchen Update Ideas – Budget-Friendly

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign

NEED HELP?

Check out my affordable E-Decorating and Color Consulting Services

Online paint colour consultant Benjamin Moore Sherwin Williams, Vancouver Island, USA, UK. Interior, exterior, edesign colors. Kylie M Interiors, blogger marketing

Originally written in 2017, updated in 2021 for content and photos



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Comments

  1. These are indeed beautiful and I agree that Formica has come a long way with style. I wonder if you could point out some options for enhancing 90’s golden oak cabinets? I know this is a tall order but could you try? My other half does not want me to paint the cabinets!!!

    -Maria

  2. This post is really encouraging, thank you!

    Before I read it I was feeling depressed because for budget reasons laminate is my best option, and I am used to laminate looking fake, but there are some really nice options here that I would be happy to see in my home.

    1. Awesome Lillea! I know, I’m in the same boat with the budget and I chose Soapstone Sequoia for my countertops (and put quartz on the island only) and I LOOOOOVE it. In fact, the laminate shows WAY LESS crumbs/mess than the Quartz which is a bit higher maintenance crumb-wise. I’ll be doing a blog post about my kitchen once I get my cabinets painted and from your comment on a different blog post I can see you and I are on the same track – wahoo!!!

      ~Kylie

    1. Hi Alyson! Yes, you do have to watch the corners. On the low contrast countertops it’s not as obvious as well as the ones that are more ‘blotchy’ (super technical term, I know). However, the countertops that are higher contrast with a veining can be a problem….

      ~Kylie

      1. We are putting in Formica Carrara Bianco countertops for that very reason. I was steered away from other designs because of the corner we have in the kitchen. Some look amazing in galley kitchens and others blend better in the corners.

  3. I agree 100%. We renovated our kitchen and paid $1300 for beautiful quartz looking laminate countertops. We were quoted $7000 for actual quartz. We are very satisfied and get many compliments on them.

    1. Thanks for commenting Sheena! The more people read comments like yours, the more they’ll see that it REALLY WORKS! I have my kitchen perimeter countertop in laminate and the island in quartz and I LOVE the laminate WAAAAAY more than the Quartz (my Quartz always has to be wiped clean to look, whereas I could not wipe the laminate for days and you’d never know it!)
      Thank you again!
      ~Kylie

      1. Thanks all for the blurbs and comments. I was debating on quartz or granite but decided to go with laminated and focus on “functional cabinet” instead. Focused on 3000 $ of upgrades like “spice racks etc” instead of 3500 on a Quartz.

        Merci!

    2. We have real soapstone and still love it after 5+ years. And the seams in our U-shaped kitchen are subtle but clear if you look for them!
      I stopped oiling them since they never felt clean. I now wax them every so often (or less!)

  4. Great article! In addition to the the laminate manufacturers you mentioned, one should also check out Wilsonart. Their High Definition patterns replicate marble, granite and soapstone and outperform any of the other brands. Also, they have an Antique finish that is amazing!

  5. This gives a low budget kitchen remodel some hope- thanks for sharing!! What type of edges do you recommend? Square, round, beveled, etc???

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      You know what, it can!!!! I’ve had 1 client do it. Now I’m not going to predict whether it will be hardy enough to last 10 years, but I have seen it done and it looks SOOO friggin’ cool. I would talk to the countertop folk about the type of adhesive/process they do to make sure that water won’t get in between the countertop and the sink – along that seam.
      Check this out here https://www.pinterest.ca/search/pins/?q=undermount%20sink%20laminate%20countertop&rs=typed&term_meta%5B%5D=undermount%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=sink%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=laminate%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=countertop%7Ctyped Basically in Pinterest, type in ‘undermount sink laminate countertop’ and you’ll see some stuff pop up!
      ~Kylie

  6. I’m so happy to have come across this while scouring gray paint options (lordy, there are so many!). We’re deciding between the Formica 180fx Calacatta Marble and the Wilsonart version. Would you mind sharing which finish (gloss versus etched) is used in the marble-inspired bathroom? It’s been a real head scratcher for us. Since we’re in the kitchen, I took a knife to both options (totally not insane) and the etched hid it better but I think feels more fake up close?

    Thanks so much for the amazing paint color resources!

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      Hi Ashley! I am a fan of etched finish myself (but honestly can’t remember the finish we did!) I would agree that it will HIDE things more, but I’m loving the Wilsonart marble look one as it’s pretty darned realistic looking, whereas the Formica one does have some stronger veining….

      1. Hi there! I’m a biiiig fan!! Can you share what the grey color is that is used on the vanity in this picture? With the Formica calacatta marble ?

        Thanks so much for the great content!!

        Sabrina from Canada 🇨🇦

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          Hi Sabrina from CANADA!!!! I’m over here on the West Coast in the rain…

          So, that is Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray 🙂 Check out SW Classic French Gray too!

  7. love your counters, Kylie. I noticed that your counter has a corner and that your laminate counter is not in one straight line. How does the pattern you chose look with the seam in the corner?

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      Hi Peggy! That is the one downfall to a countertop with a slightly linear pattern – there is no avoiding the corner seam! A more flecked/mixed pattern would be more subtle for sure…however, overall it didn’t bug me on the large scale

  8. Hi Kylie. Your countertops have me inspired…which quartz did you choose to match your Formica soapstone? Curious as that’s the best idea I’ve come across!!

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      Thank you Rose! I ‘think’ it was Walton, I can’t remember this minute, but there are 2 that are similar – mines the one that doesn’t flash green! (and we’ve moved since 🙂

  9. Great article with visual proof that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have beautiful results! We recently had Formica Jet Sequoia installed in our kitchen, with a stainless undermount sink. I originally wanted real stone, but living in a rural area without showrooms and volume nearby, it was just too expensive. I was a little worried…we have higher end, custom oak cabinets (athough beautiful, they are not what I would have chosen, but they were here when we bought the house so we’re working with them), and I wanted to make sure the colors worked together, and that the laminate didn’t look “cheap” with the cabinets. Well…I am happy to say, I LOVE the end result. It looks amazing! Laminate has come a long way! I added some oil rubbed bronze pulls and knobs to repeat the charcoal color of the countertops a bit. And with our grayish green paint, the whole look goes together beautifully. Next will come white tile for a backsplash.

    I also think it’s worth mentioning, we went with no molded backsplash on the laminate itself, which makes it look more realistic, in my opinion. And I love the newer edge profiles that are available too! So many options and so much better than the limited options that I remember from childhood!

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  10. Where do you recommend I find more info on darker colored Formica or laminate? The kitchen in the house we are looking at had real blue Bahia granite countertops and whole on their own may be doable, with the beige/gray travertine tile throughout the kitchen as well nothing comes together. The kitchen is huge and one length of the granite is over 15 ft. Your article gave me hope that there may be a more money friendly option that I could love.

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      Hi Janel, with the beige/gray travertine, I lean towards picking up on that warmth on the countertop, but perhaps in a more passive way. I’m not sure I’d go darker OR white, just something soft and warm in the middle :).

  11. I use to dislike them, but the laminate countertops today are nothing short of am-AZ-ing! Great photos and awesome information Kylie…

  12. Hi Kylie -Greetings from the other end of the country! Love your blog and have read most of your articles two and sometimes three times. I am considering having a formica 180fx countertop (9536 quartzite bianco), cabinets BM White Down. My appliances are black stainless. Do you think this combo would work? My house is open concept and I am planning on BM Manchester Tan for the living area. Right now I have “analysis paralysis” and would greatly appreciate your opinion.

  13. Kylie,
    Thank you so much for this article! The 1st photo of the dark gray with black edging countertop is beautiful and I would love to know what the colors are? And also the color of the base cabinets? The pulls are incredible too. Can you please point me in the right direction to duplicating this look?
    One other question – can the corners of a peninsula be rounded with these decorative edges on laminate?
    Thanks again for your expertise and knowledge!

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