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Quartz vs. Laminate: Which Is Right For You?

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

There are benefits and drawbacks to both quartz and laminate, but this post will give you all of the information you need to help you choose which to budget for in your own home

DESIGN AND DECOR

All about Quartz vs. Laminate

When we finally got our white quartz countertops installed, it made a night and day difference in our kitchen.

Shopping for countertops can definitely be stressful and confusing, especially if you show up unprepared.

Two of the more popular choices of counter materials are laminate and quartz. We plan on putting laminate countertops from Ikea in our mountain house Airbnb, but there are several factors to consider in the comparison of quartz vs. laminate countertops, so let’s get down to business. 

Laminate

Laminate is known to be a more affordable countertop material.

At one time, laminate was more for function than looks. But as more people focus on having a wow factor in their rooms, laminate has started to experience cosmetic makeovers. Some of the options you can get now look really nice!

How are Laminate Countertops Made?

laminate countertops on kitchen island
Laminate countertops on an island via Drew and Vanessa

Laminate countertops are several materials sandwiched together to make a thick, solid surface. A thick MDF particleboard slab gives the counters their structural integrity and shape. 

Then a thin laminate sheet goes over the top, hiding the inner parts. This sheet is an image that gives the countertops their appearance, whether it’s stone, wood, patterned, or solid colors. 

Finally, a clear protectant makes up the top layer, sealing the inner materials for a more durable surface. You may hear this layer referred to as plastic, although that’s not the case. Instead, it’s synthetic resins bonding together layers of kraft paper.

Can Laminate Countertops Look like Quartz?

Because an image sheet makes up the layer above the wooden support core, there are plenty of designs that laminate can imitate, including granite, concrete, wood, marble, or quartz!

laminate vs quartz countertops laminate countertop on bathroom vanity
Laminate countertops that look like quartz via Formica

While you may get a similar look and color, you will still be able to tell the two types of countertops apart. It will be obvious that your counters are a quartz-imitation laminate. But they still look just as great and are much more affordable.

Are Laminate Countertops Outdated?

With the influx of designer television shows, magazines, and websites all throwing out advice on what’s trending in home decor, many people worry that laminate countertops are outdated. 

But the good news is that’s not technically true. Laminate gets a bad reputation for the cheap, neutral, and, dare we say, the ugly appearance of the previous decades. 

marble look laminate countertops with marble look laminate backsplash
Marble look laminate countertops via Ikea

However, with the massive range of designs and appearances now possible with laminate, it can be difficult sometimes to tell whether the material is laminate or natural stone. 

Plus as I always say – if it’s something you love in your home, it’s not outdated. Screw trends. Do what you love. Life is too friggin’ short.

Quartz

Quartz is a harder mineral to make. It’s durable, nonporous and is made by combining resin with quartz particles. 

How Are Quartz Countertops Made?

white quartz kitchen countertop closeup with pot filler and zelige tile horizontal

Quartz countertops are mostly natural ingredients, like minerals. Over 90% of quartz counters consist of stone particles like marble and quartz. 

These minerals then mix with up to 7% of resin, fillers, and colorants. Then the material gets heated and compressed into a hard, sturdy slab.

Quartz vs. Laminate Comparisons

While laminate and quartz are two very different things, comparing the two materials can make it easier to decide which features are a crucial must and with which ones you can get flexible. Consider these factors to help you decide between quartz vs. laminate.

Maintenance

One of the biggest factors to consider for your new countertop is maintenance. No one wants to choose a new product that requires a lot of demand and care. 

If you haven’t been able to tell by our annual scary house tours, we are all about low maintenance in this house.

PS. If you’re low maintenance too, try these 5 super easy eco friendly swaps or some of our simple DIY cleaners!

Maintenance of Quartz

Quartz is a low-maintenance option that doesn’t require a lot of care. Unlike other natural stone countertops, there is no need to seal or refinish your quartz countertops over time. 

woman wiping white quartz kitchen countertops with Dapple spray

Cleaning quartz countertops is as easy as wiping the surface with water and mild soap. Or you can choose to use mild cleaning agents.

Maintenance of Laminate

Laminate also does not require any maintenance over time. Nor will you need to seal it or apply a refinisher. But it’s also not as durable as quartz, easily experiencing gouges and scratches. 

To prevent your laminate from looking worn and aged, clean up spills immediately. A downside of laminate vs. quartz is that quartz is nearly indestructible because it’s a hard stone. 

Stain Resistance

Nothing irritates a clean-freak OCD person more than stains you can’t eliminate. Unfortunately, laminate is an inferior product to quartz and frequently experiences more problems, including staining. And once the surface gets stained, you can’t buff it out or refinish the surface to hide it. 

Quartz is more durable due to being made of stone. Therefore, it is less likely to get stained up. But pay attention to my wording – I said more likely. Not impossible! 

Heat Resistance

You also want to consider a material’s heat resistance, especially for kitchen countertops. For the love, don’t put a hot dish on your counter, regardless of material. Make sure you stick a trivet or something underneath your hot stuff. 

matte white cafe gas and electric range with greige kitchen cabinets and a pot filler

Laminate has a high degree of heat resistance. But if you place a hot pan on the surface for too long, you can experience blistering on the top layer of laminate. 

Because quartz is stone, it does has higher heat resistance. However, there is plenty of sensitivity to high heat. Therefore, leaving a hot pan on a countertop for a long time can cause heat damage, which is difficult to impossible to repair.

Aesthetics

The aesthetics of quartz can resemble concrete or granite materials due to being an engineered product that can have varying looks of pattern and color. For example, you can get quartz in bright white with veining like we did or go super dark. 

Cost

Cost often plays a big factor in whether people choose laminate or quartz. Because quartz is a real particle of natural material, it comes at a higher price than laminate. So, if a lower cost is a crucial selling point, you’ll lean towards the more affordable laminate.

Quartz Kitchen Countertops Cost

white quartz counters and white cabinets with white beveled subway tile backsplash

A high-quality quartz countertop can run you around $95 a square foot. However, if that number is enough to give you cardiac arrest, you can find more reasonable economic pieces for between $50 and $75 per square foot. 

Laminate Kitchen Countertops Cost

Laminate is available at a cheaper cost, ranging from as low as $8 for a square foot to $20 for the more premium models.

How Much More Expensive is Quartz than Laminate?

You’re probably wondering how much of a price discrepancy there is between the quartz and laminate countertops. 

Prepare to spend twice as much for the real deal ($50 on the low end) as you would save if you purchased the more affordable laminate option ($8 low but up to $20). But if you’re looking at a premium quartz countertop, it can be triple to quadruple the value of laminate ($95 compared to $20). 

Is Quartz Countertop Worth the Money?

If money is the only factor you’re focusing on in deciding on quartz vs. laminate, you may have it in your mind to go with laminate. 

white quartz kitchen countertop closeup with pot filler and zelige tile horizontal

After all, the steeper cost of quartz can hurt your feelings and your wallet. But that higher cost will give you a better advantage of having a countertop that will last longer and keep looking great. 

Laminate does not hold up as well, experiencing trauma from stains, scratches, and heat. So, while you can save money with the initial purchase, you may regret the decision later when your counters start to look old with use. 

You may even decide to replace your laminate countertops much faster than you would a quartz counter. You can save money and stress years down the road by spending more money upfront.

Quartz Benefits and Drawbacks

At this point, you should better understand the differences between laminate vs. quartz countertops. Use this quick reference chart for a quick side-by-side comparison of quartz and laminate countertop materials. 

Durable
Scratch and stain-resistant
Easy to clean
More expensive
Sensitive to high heat
Hard to repair

Laminate Benefits and Drawbacks

Affordable
Large selection of looks
Can look like real stone
Vulnerable to scratches or stains
Not heat resistant
Impossible to repair

Conclusion

Which is Better – Laminate or Quartz Countertops?

Trying to determine if laminate or quartz is better for countertops is a loaded choice. Both materials are durable and can make excellent countertop surfaces. It depends more on your needs. 

white quartz countertops, matte black faucet and matte black farmhouse sink from Sinkology

But if you ignore the biggest difference between the two – price – and only look at function and durability, quartz countertops take the prize. But only if you’re able to afford it. Otherwise, a laminate countertop could be just as good of an option.