Can Laminate Countertops Look Like Quartz?

Laminate countertops have come a long way in replicating the look of natural stone and quartz. With advancements in technology and materials, laminates today can closely resemble the aesthetic of quartz at a fraction of the cost. Let’s explore how laminate countertops can mimic the appearance of quartz and examine the key differences between these two countertop options.

An Overview of Laminate and Quartz Countertops

Laminate and quartz are both popular countertop materials chosen for their durability, ease of maintenance, and variety of colors and patterns. However, they differ in their composition and performance.

What is Laminate?

Laminate countertops are made by bonding plastic resin to a substrate like particle board or plywood. A photographic applique layer containing the color and pattern is fused to the resin. The entire countertop is coated with a clear protective layer for added durability.

What is Quartz?

Quartz countertops are engineered stone made from crushed quartz particles combined with resin and pigments. The mixture is poured into molds to create slabs which are cut and finished into countertops. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%.

How They Compare on Key Factors:

Cost – Laminate is significantly less expensive than quartz. Laminate costs $20-50 per square foot installed compared to $80-150 per square foot installed for quartz.

Durability – Quartz is harder and more scratch, stain, heat, and impact resistant than laminate. However, laminate is still durable for daily use.

Maintenance – Both require minimal maintenance. Laminate may show wear over time with deep cleaning while quartz is virtually maintenance free.

Appearance – With recent advances, laminates can mimic patterns and colors found in quartz very closely. However, quartz has a more natural, stone-like appearance that laminate cannot perfectly duplicate.

How Laminate Captures the Look of Quartz

From a distance, laminate countertops can look remarkably similar to quartz. Here are some of the ways laminate is designed to imitate quartz aesthetics:

Natural Stone Patterns

Laminate manufacturers use high-definition imaging technology to apply stunning reproductions of marble, granite, and other stone patterns onto laminate sheets. Many mimic quartz’s natural veining and speckling.

Variety of Colors

Laminate comes in every color imaginable from solid hues to multi-colored blends. Popular quartz colors like whites, grays, and taupes can be closely copied in laminate form.

Matte Finishes

Quartz has a softly matte, frosted look. Textured laminate finishes help achieve this quartz-like matte sheen rather than a high-gloss appearance.

Particulate Designs

The crushed quartz pieces that make up quartz slabs give them a particulate, sand-like look. Laminate makers can reproduce this appearance with photographic prints of granular patterns.

Translucent Effects

Some laminates come with a translucent quality where light can pass through slightly for an ethereal, quartz-like glow. The resin layer of quartz allows more light transmission than opaque laminate though.

Metal and Glass Flecks

Floating metal and glass flecks are common in quartz slabs. Laminate can mimic this with printed metal and glass-like patterns embedded into the surface. However, laminate flecks are flat prints rather than real metal and glass shards.

Key Differences Between Laminate and Quartz

Although laminates come remarkably close to resembling quartz, some key differences remain visible upon closer inspection:

Edge Details

Quartz has very fine, smoothly polished edges. Laminate edges, even when polished, have a more visible seam where the substrate meets the laminate layer.

Surface Depth

Quartz has more surface depth and dimension from its crushed stone composition. Laminate has a flatter, printed look in comparison.

Pattern Continuation

Patterns are more continuous across quartz slabs. Laminate sheets have seams where patterns might not perfectly match up.

Consistent Sparkle

The mica and quartz particles in real quartz provide a consistent sparkle when illuminated. Laminate’s printed flecks lack comparable reflectivity.

Granular Texture

Quartz has a slight sandy texture from its stone particles while laminate feels smooth to the touch. Laminate lacks the gritty feel of real crushed quartz.

Heat Resistance

Quartz can withstand heat up to 300°F. Prolonged high heat can delaminate and melt laminate surfaces.

Stain Resistance

Quartz is non-porous and highly stain resistant. Laminate can absorb stains over time with seam penetration.


Quartz feels naturally cool and stone-like. Laminate feels more artificial and plastic-like.


Quartz has a dampened stone sound when tapped. Laminate makes a more resonant, hollow plastic sound.


Quartz seams can be filled and resurfaced. Damaged laminate is not easily repaired. New laminate sheets often need complete replacement.


Quartz contains high percentages of natural stone. Most laminates use less eco-friendly resins and substrate materials.

Achieving a Quartz-Like Look on a Laminate Budget

Here are some tips for choosing laminates with the most realistic quartz aesthetics:

  • Select matte finishes over high-gloss.
  • Look for fine-grained particulate patterns.
  • Match the laminate edge to the rest of the surface.
  • Opt for laminates with the most translucent appearance.
  • Choose designs with muted colors and minimal veining.
  • Install laminate using seamless joinery techniques.
  • Use caulk matching the laminate color to fill any seams.
  • Combine with other quartz-like elements like subway tile backsplash.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Lookalike Laminate

If trying to achieve a quartz look is a priority, weigh the following pros and cons of using laminate versus quartz:

Pros of Choosing Lookalike Laminate

  • Costs significantly less than real quartz
  • Provides similar visual appeal from a distance
  • Wide range of colors and patterns to match quartz
  • Still a durable and low-maintenance option

Cons of Choosing Lookalike Laminate

  • Does not perfectly duplicate quartz aesthetics
  • Lower heat, scratch, and stain resistance
  • Shorter lifespan and not easily repairable
  • Less natural stone composition for sustainability

Alternate Options to Achieve the Look of Quartz

Laminate isn’t the only option for getting a quartz aesthetic on a smaller budget. Here are a few other alternatives:

Engineered Quartz – Made with about 50% crushed quartz combined with polymers and resin for reduced cost.

Quartz Composite – Blends ground quartz with materials like acrylic or polyester resin.

Quartz Overlay – A thin layer of quartz bonded to a plywood or MDF substrate.

Porcelain – Made from powdered glass and feldspar fired at high temperatures for a quartz-like look.

Concrete – Stained, stamped, or polished concrete can mimic quartz for kitchen and bath surfaces.

The Bottom Line

While laminate will never be a perfect quartz duplicate, advancements in laminate realism, quality, and aesthetics have made it possible to achieve the look of quartz very convincingly. For those desiring the beauty of quartz on a budget, laminate likely comes closer than ever before to imitating quartz at a fraction of the cost. With smart design choices, laminate can be an affordable solution for the most desirable quartz-inspired looks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about achieving a quartz look with laminate countertops:

Can you make laminate look like quartz?

Yes, with laminate’s realistic stone patterns, matte finishes, and particulate designs it can closely mimic the look of quartz from a distance. Up-close laminate still lacks some qualities of real quartz.

What’s the best laminate to look like quartz?

Laminates with fine grain particulate patterns, matte sheens, muted solid colors, minimal veining and translucent qualities most realistically resemble quartz. Brands like Formica, Wilsonart, and Nevamar make great faux quartz laminates.

Is laminate or quartz better?

Quartz is better in durability, heat/scratch resistance, and aesthetics. But laminate provides a convincing quartz look for much less cost. It comes down to budget and which qualities are most important for your needs.

Does laminate hold up as well as quartz?

No, quartz is stronger and lasts longer without showing wear and damage. Laminate can start showing signs of use over 5-10 years. But laminate is durable enough for daily use for many years with proper care.

Can you put laminate over existing countertops to look like quartz?

Yes, quartz-like laminate sheets can be applied over existing countertops like wood, laminate, or tile. This creates a cost-effective way to get the quartz look without removing your current countertops.

What’s the difference between engineered quartz and real quartz?

Engineered quartz contains less crushed quartz than real quartz (about 50% vs. over 90%). So it lacks some of the durability, scratch resistance, and high-end aesthetics of real quartz. But it costs significantly less.

Is porcelain or quartz better?

Porcelain is excellent for replicating the look of quartz. And it shares quartz’s durability and stain resistance. But quartz remains superior in aesthetics. Porcelain provides great value for a close quartz approximation.

Is concrete quartz a good quartz alternative?

Stained, polished, or stamped concrete can strongly mimic the look of quartz when done properly. Concrete quartz performs well and costs less than real quartz but lacks in heat/scratch resistance.


While not identical, today’s laminates come remarkably close to imitating the natural beauty of quartz when planned and executed purposefully. For home cooks desiring a convincing and budget-friendly facsimile of quartz’s elegant aesthetic, laminates likely offer the next best option. With smart design and material choices, laminate countertops can provide the satisfying look of quartz at just a fraction of the cost.