Plastic laminate, once the standard surface for postwar home kitchen countertops, still has a big market share due to affordable and maintenance-free options in loads of colors and patterns. Check out the basics and special considerations here to see if laminate kitchen countertops might be right for your kitchen.
Plastic laminate countertops consist of a wafer-thin finish adhered to a plywood or particleboard substrate. That thin finish is a high-pressure laminate (HPL); it’s made of three layers of material bonded together by high heat and pressure: a clear melamine top for protection, a decorative layer and a backing made of phenolic resin-coated kraft paper. Well-known laminate manufacturers include Formica, Wilsonart, and Nevamar.
Costs: $8 to $20 per square foot, including installation.
The one thing you interested in is the durable and easy clean kitchen countertop. Soapstone is a natural stone composed largely of mineral talc, which lends the material the smooth feel of soap. Slab colors are typically medium gray and can have a greenish cast. Over time, the soapstone will darken to a deep charcoal. Slabs may contain pronounced veining, which is produced by quartz in the stone. Durability is soapstone’s top bragging right. It is not unusual in the northeast parts of the U.S. to find soapstone sinks and wood-burning stoves from the 1800s that are still functioning today, so consider this countertop a lifetime investment. Soapstone is a terrific material for the kitchen, as it’s unaffected by heat (proven by its historical use for stoves). Being chemically neutral means that acids like tomatoes and lemon juice won’t damage it, and its density makes it impenetrable by everything, including bacteria and would-be stains.
It is talc content makes soapstone softer than some other stone counters, which leads to edges and corners being eased over time. Nicks and scratches may accumulate too, which can be sanded out or considered part of its living patina. When selecting your slab, it’s good to know that the greener the slab, the softer it is. So seek out slabs with less of a green cast if you want a harder slab. Make sure your soapstone is an architectural grade, which is denser than the artistic grade often used for sculpture. Mild soap and water will take care of routine cleanup. Regular application of food-grade mineral oil is typically recommended, as it darkens the stone and makes the appearance more consistent, but know that applying the oil is solely for aesthetics. Soapstone gets green kudos for being a material that will last for generations.