person cutting laminate on a work suraface
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Laminate Vitals

What's it cost? At a home center, you pay as little as $1.60 per square foot for a sheet of DIY laminate used for countertops, wall panels, and cabinet doors. Prefab panels for shelving and cabinet interiors start at about $2.40 per square foot.
What's the warranty? Laminate typically comes with a one-year warranty, but the material should last indefinitely.
DIY or buy it from a pro? You'll need a pro for a counter with an integral sink or a wrapped ogee edge. But you can make your own laminate counters, cabinets, and wall panels with the sheets and backerboards sold at a home center.
How much care? Clean laminate with nonabrasive, no-bleach cleansers. It's heat sensitive, so use a trivet when setting down hot cookware or votive candles on counters or tabletops.
Environmental Scorecard Air quality. High-density laminate sheets are Greenguard certified, meaning they pass strict tests for off-gassing. To further limit exposure to toxic chemical emissions, use low-VOC contact adhesive and a particleboard base that's made without urea-formaldehyde glues. Get boards at Panel Source and Uniboard.
Recycled content. Laminates typically have some recycled content in their paper backing; Wilsonart's line has as much as 20 percent. Tefor thermoplastic laminates from Abet Laminati are 100 percent recycled but won't work on counters. For extra eco cred, adhere the sheets to 100-percent-recycled FSC-certified particleboard made of wood from well-managed forests.
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