Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertops offer a cost-effective alternative when compared to natural stone and solid surface materials like Corian. Some budget-minded remodelers select laminate, in fact, because of the wide array of looks that mimic wood or granite. Modern versions also have squared edges imitating materials like quartz rather than the rounded, outdated edges popular decades ago. But since they're made of plastic that is bonded with particleboard or layers of very heavy paper, laminate countertops aren't always as durable as some of the materials they emulate. They need a little more care if you want them to last: For instance, one of the main things you'll want to do to preserve your laminate countertops is to clean them gently. There are also some important things to avoid — including abrasives and excessive heat — when you're trying to extend the life of laminates.

Yes, you'll want to baby laminate countertops a bit to keep them looking like new for longer. With proper care, though, you can expect laminate countertops to last 15 years or more. Luckily, the specifics for laminate cleaning and care are easy to follow. 

How to carefully clean laminate countertops

Gentle cleaning is the mainstay when it comes to keeping laminate countertops looking their best — and that means using a gentle soap and water for everyday cleaning. Since leaving liquid on laminate countertops for an extended period puts them in peril for damage, using a spray bottle to spritz on a mixture of mild soap and water and then wiping it off quickly is a good idea. For grease or more stubborn food bits that have already dried, wipe the area a little more forcefully with a microfiber cloth or sponge moistened with your soap and water.

If you need to remove stains from your laminate countertops, try adding a bit of baking soda to your cleaning routine. Making a paste consisting of a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon or two of warm water often works. Just gently apply it to the spot, wait about five minutes, and wipe it off with a soft cloth. Avoid scrubbing too much when using baking soda as a laminate stain remover since it can scratch the surface if you get too aggressive.

What to avoid with laminate countertops

Another thing to keep in mind when cleaning laminate countertops is to avoid using abrasive cleaners or rough materials, including all types of scouring powders or cleaning pads with wire bristles or made of rough materials like steel wool. They can mar the surface, leaving it scratched and dull-looking. 

You'll also want to avoid exposing your laminate to excessive heat — around 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more, according to the International Surface Fabricators Association — when prepping and serving foods. Take care when using appliances that generate heat, and place trivets or cooling racks under piping hot pots and pans if you need to set them on a laminate surface, whether it's a countertop or an island. Even setting a hot cup of coffee — let alone a hot coffee pot — on laminate can burn it in a short amount of time, so putting a heat-resistant mat or coaster underneath can help save your countertop.

Be sure to avoid using knives on laminate surfaces without a cutting board, too. Cutting directly on the countertop can leave grooves in the laminate that may capture bacteria, increase the likelihood of chipping, and negatively impact the resale value of your home. Of course, you can always fix your chipped laminate countertops, but it's much easier to avoid that type of damage by taking care of them properly in the first place. With these simple precautions, you can help your laminate countertops have a long, beautiful life.