Laminate vs Quartz Worktops: A Handy Comparison Guide to Help You Decide

Laminate versus quartz worktops—Seems like a far-fetched comparison, doesn’t it? Surely, you can’t begin to imagine how laminate could compare with the likes of quartz. 

Remember the time when laminate worktops had poor visuals and often are easily worn down? However, the gap between these two surface materials is narrowing to a point wherein designers, homeowners, etc. are starting to compare them with each other to find out which one is better. 

Premium laminates are quickly catching up to the wide customer base and market share of quartz. In fact, those who previously would pick quartz any day (if their budget persists) are finding themselves considering laminates instead.  

Prospective buyers often are caught undecided between the choices for worktop material. So, to help you make the decision-making easier here is a comparison between two surface materials that are worth looking into if you plan on remodelling or buying a new kitchen. 

Let’s begin with the basics, but if you already know this, then skip this section and continue with the next. 

Composition

Quartz worktops. Quartz is a mixture of materials. It is composed of 10% binding resins and the other 90% comprised hard materials such as pure quartz crystals, marble, glass, mirrors, etc.

Because it is a composite material, alternate terms are often used like engineered stone, man-made stone, or cultured stone, reflecting this material’s true nature.

Laminate worktops. Basically, this is a sandwich of materials. A thick slab of particleboard makes up the structural part, which you will never see since the thin sheet of laminate covers it. 

Although laminate is called “plastic,” it is not actually plastic. Laminate is largely composed of kraft paper and resins. 

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Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

Appearance 

Solid Colours. Should all worktop surfaces mimic stone surfaces? Perhaps, no. 

Quartz surfaces are widely known for their unmatched consistency in colour and patterns that even granite couldn’t match, yet it lacks in depth of colour. However, you should worry since quartz can easily pull off a natural stone feel and appearance that even laminate couldn’t match. 

In the UK, laminate is available in hundreds of solid and contemporary colours, including graphical prints and patterns which really help to improve your home internal look. Laminates can also mimic stones such as travertine, marble, and slate and also organic materials like wood, leather and cook and also even fabric and paper. 

Depth. In terms of duplicating a natural stone’s look, then there’s no question that quartz is the clear winner. However, high-end laminates are breaking barriers and are becoming even more realistic at replicating the appearance of a natural stone. 

Regardless of how expensive a laminate is, it may never duplicate the visual depth of quartz since it isn’t visually deep itself.  

Best. If you prefer stone-like surfaces, quartz is your best bet. But if you want a surface able to mimic a stone’s distinctive veining, opt for laminate. 

Durability

Independent testing services such as the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) in the UK and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), in accordance with set guidelines, conduct tests to rate the durability of worktop materials. 

Scratch resistance

Quartz. Compared with natural stone counters, quartz has impressive flexural strength and is almost indestructible. Yes, it is highly scratch resistant. However, note that it does and can scratch. Especially susceptible are tight-grained, solid, dark colours, and they’re highly difficult to fix. 

Laminate. Long been considered as laminate’s Achilles heel is its “wear layer” or the topmost layer. This layer easily scratches and chips, especially with knives that are prominently found in kitchens.

Typically, a salesman would inform you that laminate slabs are as long-lasting as quartz slabs, and of course, we all know that most homeowners wouldn’t want a blemished surface, especially if they often have friends and guests over for small or large gatherings. 

So to remedy this, opt for dark-coloured or patterned laminate slab because it hides better cuts and bruises.

​Heat resistance

You might be surprised to know that laminate can withstand extreme heat, whereas quartz surfaces are only durable so long as sudden and extreme temperature changes are not directly applied on the surface.

Best. Although both materials are very hard-wearing, quartz definitely has the solid win in terms of abrasion ratings, but laminate in terms of heat resistance. 

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Installation

A great majority of all quartz and laminate surfaces of quality are professionally installed.

It’s nearly impossible for homeowners to actually develop the skillset required in the fabrication and installation of quartz surfaces. This also holds true for laminates. 

If homeowners want to close the “quality gap” between laminate and quartz, then they must be installed professionally, too.

However, is it possible to install laminate or quartz on your own? Yes. There is an existing market of off-the-shelf laminate slabs that can be installed on existing counters, but this requires some effort on the part of the homeowners. 

Note that if you do this wrong, you’ll be spending a lot more instead of saving. 

Best. Laminate, since you need professionals for proper quartz installation. 

The Takeaway

So which is it, laminate or quartz worktops? If you are still on the fence, ask your dealership to provide you with samples and place them in your kitchen to see which one suits your taste and lifestyle. Again, the ultimate decision rests upon your personal preference.    

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