Options for kitchen countertops have never been greater. But that can also make the decision much more difficult. Before you agonize over your choice of natural stone, poured concrete, recycled glass or cardboard, tile, manufactured materials or sustainable alternatives, some definitions might be helpful.

Two of the most popular countertop options are laminate and a synthetic commonly referred to as quartz.

Laminate is looking better than ever before, considering that the material so popular for kitchen countertops has been around for more than 100 years! A viable option for granite today is an engineered product often known as Quartz.

What are the pros and cons of laminate vs. quartz?

A Bargain for Durability and Good Looks

Formica laminate was invented in 1912 by two Westinghouse employees who were looking for a manufactured product to replace mica as electrical insulation. Today, it is commonly considered a budget-friendly, stylish and functional countertop. Residential and commercial applications for laminate have spawned numerous other brands of laminate, but all feature a base of “sandwiched” material covered by a thin topping of colored or patterned synthetic sheeting.

Technological advances in the manufacture of laminate countertops have enhanced not only its performance, but also its appearance. Seamless and rolled-edge laminates simulate natural stone, while trendy looks are achieved with vibrant colors, inlays, and “color-through” options. New edge treatments allow great versatility and eliminate unsightly seams of early counters.

Laminate is heat resistant and non-porous, but it can be damaged by sharp knives and the surface is subject to tears and delaminating in some cases. However, with reasonable care, modern laminate is is a long-lasting, cost-effective option. While it is possible to purchase pre-formed laminate countertops for DIY installation, high-quality laminate countertops and unique counter treatments should be installed by a professional.

Upscale and Nearly Indestructible, but Pricey

Quartz countertops are commonly manufactured with bits of quartz and cast-off bits of stone, ceramic, glass and other materials, bound together with a glue-like resin. The process was developed and patented in the mid-1960s and, like laminate, the intervening years have seen the birth of a variety of “manufactured stone” companies, each offering a slightly different take on the product.

Early quartz countertops were durable, but not terribly attractive. Not so, today. Quartz counters mimic granite and marble so well that the differences are sometimes hard to detect. Because the pattern and color is not just on the surface, quartz slabs can be as thick — or as thin — as you wish. Trendy colors are all the rage, and clean-lined quartz in black or white is a natural choice for trendy Euro-tech or pro-style kitchens.

Quartz countertops are available in both polished and matte finishes; they never need sealing, and they are heat-resistant and well as impervious to stains, cuts, warping and tears. They do not require any sort of underlayment, and they are completely hygienic, requiring cleaning only with soap and water. They may also be formed with integral sink basins and other custom features.

Compare Materials Laminate vs. Quartz at NEBS

NEBS is committed to bringing local builders and home owners the finest materials on the market today, and we are the proud suppliers of Formica laminate and solid surface counter materials as well as Ceasarstone, a world-class company committed to environmental sustainability in the manufacture of fine quartz countertops.

Why not stop by our downtown Boston showroom and let our sales and design staff dazzle you with the possibilities? We know you’ll find products to tickle your fancy! We also know that, whatever your budget, we have stylish and durable options that will appeal to Boston home buyers.