The 5 Best Laminate or Formica Countertops
Back in the day (you know, 30 years ago), laminate countertops were the most POPULAR choice for kitchen countertops; you’d be hard-pressed to see much else. And with the popularity of quartz and granite countertops in the last 20 years or so, laminate has got a reputation of being a ‘cheap’ alternative.
Don’t get me wrong; laminate countertops ARE affordable compared to quartz and granite – drastically. However, the word CHEAP offers a passive suggestion that a product is a low price AND low quality – which just isn’t the case.
Along with being an affordable alternative, laminate countertops are pretty darn hard. Of course, they aren’t as rock solid as quartz and granite, but this doesn’t make them a bad choice for the price point. In fact, laminate can be a wise investment for those on a budget.
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…) – check out your OPTIONS before you order!
SUMMARY OF THE MOST POPULAR LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS
Here’s a quick rundown of the best laminate countertops. Keep reading for photos and in-depth tips and ideas!
- FORMICA CARRARA BIANCO LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
- ARBORITE TYPHOON BORDEAUX LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
- FORMICA JET SEQUOIA LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
- FORMICA SOAPSTONE SEQUOIA
- FORMICA CALACATTA MARBLE LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
1. FORMICA CARRARA BIANCO LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
Carrara Bianco is my fave these days. Mimicking the LOOK of marble, Carrara Bianco laminate 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 violet 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.
LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS THAT LOOK LIKE MARBLE
Wilsonart White Carrara (terrible online image)
2. ARBORITE TYPHOON BORDEAUX LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
Typhoon Bordeaux is a gorgeous product with its cool grayish-blue tones and rust-coloured veining. Because it has a soft white base, it’s easy to coordinate with cabinets, flooring and backsplash. This countertop was designed to look like granite.
Sorry about the terrible photo; this was taken during my early days
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!
TYPHOON BORDEAUX LOOKS GOOD WITH
- white or slightly off-white cabinets
- painted warm gray cabinets
- natural cherry or espresso cabinets
COUNTERTOPS WITH SIMILAR INTENTIONS
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3. FORMICA JET SEQUOIA LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
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.
THIS BLACK MARBLE-LOOK COUNTERTOP LOOKS GOOD WITH
- cherry cabinets
- white cabinets
- painted gray cabinets
COUNTERTOPS WITH SIMILAR INTENTIONS
And while it’s a bit grayer, I also love Formica Paloma Dark Gray
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4. FORMICA SOAPSTONE SEQUOIA LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
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.
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. It was FAR easier to keep looking nice than our quartz island countertop.
To see more, check out this blog post… Kitchen Makeover – Maple No More!
COUNTERTOPS WITH A SIMILAR LOOK
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 LAMINATE COUNTERTOP
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!
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!
To see more of this bathroom, check out this blog post… A Marble Inspired Ensuite Bathroom
CALACATTA MARBLE COUNTERTOP LOOKS GREAT WITH
- white cabinets
- painted gray cabinets
- cabinets that are navy blue or blue-green
Marble – Get the Look Without the High Price
So, you can spend all of your money if you want OR you can choose one of these uber-fab countertops to update your kitchen and add some serious visual value!
Countertop Update Ideas: High-End Ideas, Low-End Price
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How to Create a Timeless Trend-Proof Home
The 5 Types of White Paint Colours
Top 4 Kitchen Update Ideas – Budget-Friendly
Check out my affordable E-Decorating and Color Consulting Services
Originally written in 2017, updated in 2022 for content and photos
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!!!
Hi Maria! Oh the other halves can be funny about that kind of thing. My hubby gave up battling me years ago 😉 Now this article here does focus quite a bit on painting cabinets, but I think you might still find some useful information – I hope it helps Maria! https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/tips-ideas-update-oak-wood-cabinets/
Thanks so much for including my kitchen in this roundup! We are in LOVE with our countertops and always have people feeling them to ask if they’re laminate 🙂
How could I NOT include it – it’s one of the best! You did such a fabulous job 🙂
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.
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!!!
Wahoo!!! from me too. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to seeing pictures of your kitchen when they’re ready!
I’m inerested in the laminate but have several corners in my kitchen. How are the seams…are they really obvious?
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….
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.
I have a “U” shaped kitchen. This is good information.
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.
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!
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.
JUST the type of comment I love to read – thank you Renee!
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!)
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!
This gives a low budget kitchen remodel some hope- thanks for sharing!! What type of edges do you recommend? Square, round, beveled, etc???
I like the square wrap, where it isn’t a clean 90 degree, but the countertop wraps around the front!
Gorgeous options. Question. Can Formica be installed with an undermount sink?
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!
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!
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….
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 🇨🇦
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!
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?
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
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!!
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 🙂
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!
Wahoo, I love comments like that, thank you for sharing!
Beautiful! Can you please tell me where to find the backsplash you used with the soapstone sequoia laminate?
Hi Sandy, thank you! Sadly, I found it at Home Depot but as far as I know they don’t carry it anymore!
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.
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 :).
I use to dislike them, but the laminate countertops today are nothing short of am-AZ-ing! Great photos and awesome information Kylie…
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.
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!
Look at some of the stone colors in Formica’s new SATIN finish. You’ll thank me later.
Wilsonart says their laminate is not waterproof and water spills should be wiped off. That gives us super concerns about using it in our bathrooms. What are your thoughts?
They’re saying laminate countertop isn’t waterproof? Hmmm. Curious. I mean, I suppose at some point water could slowly affect the surface, but…this is the first I’ve heard of this. I suppose if there’s a seam, like a corner or on the edge, water could penetrate there? I also know that many companies are averse to say that ANYTHING is ‘anything proof’, just in case.