Laminate kitchen cabinets offer a versatile, affordable, and attractive option for any kitchen remodel. With a wide variety of styles, colors, and textures available, laminate cabinets can fit any design aesthetic and budget. Here is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about laminate kitchen cabinets.
What are Laminate Kitchen Cabinets?
Laminate cabinets are made of high-pressure laminate sheets bonded to a wood substrate like plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF). The laminate sheets form the exposed surface of the cabinet and provide protection from moisture, impact, and scratching.
Unlike solid wood cabinets, laminate cabinets have a consistent, uniform look as the laminate surface is printed with a selected finish and texture. Laminate surfaces are available in hundreds of colors and realistic woodgrain patterns. This allows laminate cabinets to mimic styles like oak, cherry, maple, and other wood types.
Benefits of Laminate Kitchen Cabinets
Laminate kitchen cabinets offer several benefits that make them a smart choice for many homeowners:
Laminate cabinets are an affordable cabinetry option. They cost significantly less than solid wood or stainless steel cabinets. Laminate’s lower cost makes it possible to get stylish new cabinets without the high price tag.
The laminate surface is highly resistant to scratches, moisture, dents, and fading. Laminate cabinets retain their like-new appearance for years with proper care and cleaning.
Laminate surfaces simply require occasional wiping with a soft cloth and mild cleaner. No need for polishing or resealing required with solid wood cabinets.
Range of Options
Laminate cabinets come in unlimited color options and realistic woodgrain patterns. This allows kitchens to have a cohesive look with laminate countertops.
Assembled laminate cabinets install quickly compared to custom cabinetry. Pre-fabricated laminate cabinets mean less construction mess, noise, and disruption.
Types of Laminate Finishes
Laminate cabinets include hundreds of finish and texture options to fit any style. Popular laminate finishes include:
Woodgrain laminate mimics natural wood textures like oak, cherry, maple, and more. The depth and variation of woodgrain laminate is remarkably realistic at a fraction of solid wood cost.
For a modern, sleek look, solid colors like white, black, gray and more are available. Solid laminate accepts paint well for unlimited color customization.
Unique patterns like checkerboard, floral, carbon fiber, and abstract textures provide a custom, artistic look.
Glossy metallic laminates add glam and shine with finishes like polished copper, stainless steel, and bronzed.
For a shiny, reflective look, high-gloss laminate cabinets provide a lacquered appearance without the ongoing upkeep.
Soft matte textures offer an understated, classic finish. The muted sheen helps hide fingerprints and water spots.
Construction of Laminate Cabinets
Laminate cabinet construction includes several components that contribute to the overall quality and durability of the final product:
The substrate material underlying the laminate impacts structural integrity. Plywood offers the most strength and resistance to warping. Particleboard is prone to swelling and sagging when exposed to moisture. MDF provides a good compromise of affordability, stability, and screw-holding capability.
The adhesive bonding the laminate sheets to the substrate should fully cover the substrate surface to guard against delamination over time. PVA, urea-formaldehyde, and RF adhesives each have pros and cons for bond strength and off-gassing.
Exposed cabinet edges require impact-absorbing material to prevent chipping. Options include matching laminate edging strips, PVC edgebanding, or solid wood edges. Concealed cabinet edges can use melamine for cost savings.
Several hinge styles are available including self-closing, push-to-open, and soft-closing. Concealed hinges create a clean, seamless look on Euro-style cabinets.
Hardware complements the cabinet style including knobs, pulls, and handles. Brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, and chrome are popular to match kitchen faucets and fixtures.
Pros and Cons of Laminate Kitchen Cabinets
Laminate kitchen cabinets offer many benefits, along with some downsides to consider:
- Cost effective price point
- Durable, scratch and moisture-resistant
- Extensive style and color options
- Easy maintenance
- Quick to install
- Not as repairable as solid wood
- Plastic appearance for some very glossy finishes
- Can develop signs of wear at high use areas
- Resale value less than wood cabinetry
- Edges susceptible to damage if unprotected
Laminate Kitchen Cabinet Costs
On average, the cost of laminate kitchen cabinets ranges from $75 – $250 per linear cabinet foot, including labor and installation. This equates to approximately $3,000 – $10,000 for a typical 10×10 kitchen layout.
Factors impacting the total price include:
- Door style – raised panel, slab, shaker, etc.
- Material grade – plastic, melamine, high pressure laminate
- Door features – glass panel inserts or decorative routings
- Species and finish – oak, cherry, whitewash, glossy, etc.
- Quality of hardware
- Contractor overhead and profit margins
Often, full overlay laminate cabinets cost slightly more than partial overlay. For the most affordable option, stock laminate cabinets and DIY installation provide significant savings over custom cabinetry.
Laminate Kitchen Cabinet Trends
Several laminate kitchen cabinet trends bring style and panache to these budget-friendly cabinets:
Mixing and matching laminates like light tops and dark bottom cabinets creates pleasing contrast. Or use complementary hues like navy blue bases with sky blue uppers.
Laminate open shelves on the wall or in place of uppers lighten the visual space. Display collectibles while benefiting from laminate’s durability and wipe-clean finish.
Glass door fronts showcase contents while retaining the laminate’s protection on other surfaces. Push-to-open mechanisms add modern convenience.
Using laminate on perimeter cabinetry and a material like quartz or butcher block on the island balances affordability and high-end touches.
Mimicking the look of natural reclaimed wood using wide, dramatic planks brings warmth and texture to laminate construction.
Making the Most of Laminate Cabinets
To capitalize on laminate’s favorable virtues, consider these design strategies:
Combine with Laminate Countertops
Matching cabinet and countertop laminates create a streamlined, monochromatic look. The same material on vertical and horizontal surfaces appears as one continuous finish.
Include Wood Accents
Tying in solid wood features like open shelving, range hood covers, or a butcher block island warm up the space both visually and to the touch.
Focus on Decorative Hardware
Updating knobs and pulls creates big visual impact at low cost. Go bold in size or color for an instant style upgrade.
Install Specialty Lighting
Accent lighting transforms laminate cabinets from basic to brilliant. Undercabinet, accent, and interior lighting become focal points.
Incorporate Glass Backsplashes
Glass tile or mirrored backsplashes reflect light to brighten laminate cabinets. The transparency maintains an airy, open vibe.
Are laminate cabinets durable?
Yes, laminate’s dense, plastic-infused surface stands up well to routine kitchen use. The protective topcoat resists stains, moisture, and scratches better than real wood.
Can you paint laminate cabinets?
Technically yes, but it’s tricky. Deglossing and priming is required so paint adheres correctly. Due to the laminate’s smooth surface, painted finishes tend to appear dull rather than glossy.
Do laminate cabinets look cheap?
Basic white or oak laminate can look low-end, but unique finishes like metallics, colorful solids, and realistic woodgrains offer high-end appeal while retaining laminate’s cost savings.
Should I get laminate or wood cabinets?
Ultimately a personal choice for priorities – cost vs natural material, minimal upkeep vs refinishing, durability vs repairability. For rentals and flips, laminate makes sense. For forever homes, some prefer wood’s legacy.
How long do laminate cabinets last?
With proper installation and care, laminate cabinets typically last 15-20 years before showing signs of wear. Though not heirloom quality, laminate delivers solid value for the investment.
Laminate kitchen cabinets provide an affordable, customizable, and resilient cabinetry option with today’s wide selection of laminate finishes. Modern laminate styles mimic high-end looks for a fraction of the cost of solid wood or stainless steel cabinets. With careful product selection and creative design, laminate cabinets offer any kitchen a fresh new style without breaking the budget.