Marble vs Laminate Countertops
Marble and laminate are 2 very different countertop materials, but each one has pros and cons that might tempt you to choose it over the other. Whether you’re going for a high-end look or a modest low-price kitchen design, both these countertops have advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Here we’re going to look at laminate vs marble countertops, giving you their pros and cons in terms of heat resistance, scratch resistance, price, durability, and much more. These two countertop materials behave very differently in a kitchen environment, so be careful to make the right choice.
Let’s get to it!
What is Marble?
Marble is a natural stone that is found mainly in quarries in Europe. There are many different types of it, such as Crema Marfil, Carrara, and more. Depending on what region the stone is quarried from, it may have a different name, look, color, and pattern.
Although they can come in different colors, these countertops are usually white or cream in color, giving them a classic timeless look that exudes elegance and opulence if used correctly. Most of the time they have a flat matte finish, unlike stones like granite that are normally polished and shiny.
You can use this material for kitchen countertop surface, but most people prefer it in the bathroom.
This opulent material is perhaps most famous for its association with Renaissance Italy, with some of the world’s most famous sculptures being created from the stone. This has given the natural stone a sense of high-end class and culture that you simply cannot recreate with other stones like granite countertops or quartz countertops.
What is Laminate?
A laminate countertop is essentially a wooden countertop which is wrapped in several layers of thin plastic-like material (the laminate) to create a cheap kitchen countertop material. The wood used as the main part of the surface is usually quite cheap pressed wood, such as MDF or particleboard.
You can get high-pressure laminate countertops which are sturdier, but they’re more expensive.
These countertops are easy to design and change specifically because their surface is printed according to specifications, whereas stone counters like quartz countertops have natural patterns and veins that cannot be changed to your specific tastes.
High-quality laminate countertops are also able to be designed so they look like granite and other stone solid surface. If you like the look of natural stone but you’re on a tight budget, Formica countertops could be a wise investment.
Laminate and Marble Countertop Comparison Chart
Laminate vs Marble – How do they compare?
These countertop materials behave very differently in your home across a wide range of abilities – here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
First of all, laminate is the cheapest option by far, costing a mere $10 to $30 per square foot compared to $50 to $150 per sq ft. Laminate is man-made with fairly cheap materials, so it’s easy to get high-quality laminate countertops without spending a lot of money.
One of the things factored into the price of laminate counters is the installation – unless you’re experienced at DIY, you cannot cheap out on the installation of laminate counters. Poorly-installed laminate will have creases and air bubbles in the finish, so it’s crucial to get a professional installation.
However, bear in mind that laminate adds little to zero value to your home.
On the other hand, marble is much pricier ($50 to $150 per sq ft) because it’s quarried from natural rock and is therefore much rarer and harder to process. It’s also got a reputation as a high class surface material, which naturally helps to drive prices up.
Nonetheless, this natural countertop material can last for decades if you care for it properly, and it may add significant value to your home if kept in good condition.
When it comes to laminate, you can have basically any color or style that you want!
It’s possible to get custom printed designs based on your favorite color or countertop materials, helping you to save money but get a similar look to a more expensive countertop surface material.
It’s also very easy to change this finish whenever you feel like a kitchen remodel, so it gives you an easy way to play around with new colors and patterns as kitchen design trends change or your personal taste evolves.
When installing laminated countertops with the help of a professional, you can also ensure that there are no seams, which is great if you have very long kitchen counters in your home.
On the other hand, marble has a unique style that it’s well-known for. It usually comes in lighter whites and creams, featuring a flat matte finish and unique natural veining. It’s a classic style that is thought of as very luxurious when done correctly.
However, bear in mind that if you’ve got very long kitchen counters, you might not be able to use one slab for everything, so you might end up with seams in your countertop that look unsightly.
Laminate is actually quite stain-resistant because it’s essentially plastic, which doesn’t have the natural pores of rock. As such, it’s very good for keeping spills at bay, though this isn’t to say that it’s 100% stain resistant. If you spill a very hot liquid on laminated countertops, there’s a fair chance that you’ll damage the inner wooden core.
Not ideal if you’ve got a messy kitchen or small children!
Still, marble is not great with stains at all. It’s naturally porous, so it can stain quite easily if you’re not careful. With regular maintenance, sealing, and stain removal (baking soda and water!) it can survive, but it’s not ideal if you’re the kind of person who spills things a lot in their kitchen.
There’s no doubt that laminated countertops lose this fight by a landslide. Laminated countertops are essentially made from thin plastic, so they can’t take a lot of heat compared to natural stones. Laminated counters can withstand temperatures up to around 150ºF, which is not very high at all.
You might get away with putting a baking tray on there for a few seconds, but don’t even think about putting hot pots and pans on these counters.
On the flipside, marble can withstand temperatures up to around 480-500ºF depending on the type, which is obviously much better. It’s not very heat resistant, but it’s still a ton better than laminated countertops on this one.
While I wouldn’t suggest putting hot pots and pans onto this surface due to scorching, you can probably put baking trays on it just fine.
It’s not recommended that you cut food or use knives on laminated surfaces at all, so be sure to use chopping boards if you have laminated counters. It’s quite easy to damage laminated counters with scratches and cuts, so they may start to look a little grubby after a couple years’ use.
They’re not ideal if you use the kitchen a lot.
On the other hand, marble is one of the weaker stones you can buy for your home, but they’re still much stronger than even the best laminated counters. With the right care and regular sealing, they can last for decades in your home and add to its resale value.
Free Countertop Chart
We Compared Marble, Granite, Laminate, Solid Surface and Quartz Countertops!
Pros and Cons of Laminate Vs Marble
- Cheap ($10 to $30 per square foot)
- Easy to change design
- Many styles and colors
- Durable for everyday kitchen use
- No seams
- GOOD INSTALLATION REQUIRED
- NOT VERY DURABLE
- NOT VERY HEAT RESISTANT
- HARD TO CLEAN
- CAN LOOK CHEAP
The main selling point of laminate countertops is how cheap they are, and that’s about it really. Even if you go with high-pressure formica or laminate countertops, you’re still going to find that laminate is much less durable than natural stones and solid surface countertops.
Nonetheless, if you don’t use your kitchen too much or the cooking you do is very simple, then laminate countertops could be a great cost-effective solution for your kitchen design. They can also be printed to imitate the look of real stone surfaces, which is a nice little trick.
- Very heat resistant
- Mold and mildew resistant
- Darker natural stone color
- Quite low maintenance
- Very durable – can last for decades
- Scratch resistant
- HARD TO REPAIR
- SLIGHTLY POROUS
- REGULAR SEALING REQUIRED
Granite countertops are very common in kitchens, and it’s for a good reason – this natural stone kitchen surface can handle hot pots and pans, as well as etching and everyday damage. If you get it sealed regularly, it’s also very stain resistant and keeps mold and mildew at bay for decades.
On the downside, this natural stone is very expensive, slightly porous, and does still require regular sealing.
What is the difference between laminate and Formica countertops?
Laminate is the material, while Formica is a brand that uses laminate. Formica counters are known for being high-quality and pretty durable.
Formica counters are often designed to imitate the look of stones such as granite and quartz countertops, helping homeowners to get the look of granite countertops or solid surface without spending the money necessary.
What is the best countertop for your money?
Laminated counters are essentially wood countertops wrapped in plastic laters, so they’re not going to last you forever. Though they’re a lot cheaper than their natural counterparts, you’re going to need to replace them after a few years.
On the other hand, marble countertops cost a lot more but it can last for decades if you care for it properly and may even add significant resale value to your home.
So which one is best? That depends on you and your needs.