Laminate countertops are one of the cheapest in the market, second only to tile countertops. In fact, their affordability is one of the main reasons they are so popular, besides their virtually unlimited range of style and design options. While a steel or solid surface countertop can run you well over $1,000, you can expect to pay less than $500 for a laminate one of the same size. If you have a large kitchen or bathroom counter, or if you need countertops for your shop or diner, a laminate countertop will save you hundreds of dollars without compromising style or function.
The pricing of laminate countertops depends on three things: the construction method, the materials used, and the customization of specific details such as edge treatment and surface design. Prices are usually by linear foot. In the countertop trade, a linear foot is equal to one foot, assuming a width of one foot as well. This makes a linear foot roughly equal to one square foot.
Traditional kraft and melamine countertops are the cheapest available. You can get them for as low as $5 per linear foot, but these usually make use of low-quality kraft and recycled melamine, which lack durability and may end up costing you more in repair and replacement. The average price is about $20 per linear foot, for which you can get a fairly durable construction and a choice between several surface designs.
Pure melamine countertops are slightly more expensive. A linear foot costs $30 to $40, but a melamine countertop can outlast a kraft one by many years, and you can save a great deal of maintenance and repair costs.
Reinforced plastic laminates considerably hike up the price of a laminate countertop. Laminates mixed with glass fibers can cost $40 to $50 per linear foot, depending on the proportion of the glass fibers and plastic. Do not be fooled by high glass fiber counts, though too much glass fiber can make your countertop brittle. Fifteen percent is a reasonable ratio.
Plastic-carbon laminates occupy the highest spot in the laminate countertop price range. A linear foot can cost you as much as $60. High carbon ratios are great for large, commercial countertops that take a lot of abuse from heavy pots and pans.
If you have certain specifications for size, shape, and edge treatment, you may have to pay more for your countertop. A custom shaped edge, for instance, can cost up to $75 per square foot. Also, if you want your own design to appear on the counter surface, your builder can charge you an extra $5 to $10, since they will have to pay artists and printers to execute your design. Installation fees may also be higher.