Which is Better: Laminate or Quartz Countertops?

Laminate and quartz are both popular countertop materials, each with their own sets of pros and cons. As you look to remodel your kitchen or bath, deciding between laminate or quartz countertops can be a tough choice. This guide examines the key differences between these two countertop options to help you determine which is better for your needs and budget.

What is Laminate?

Laminate countertops, also known as Formica countertops, are made from layers of kraft paper infused with melamine resin and topped with a decorative plastic laminate coating. This layered construction makes laminate countertops highly durable and resistant to scratches, stains, burns, and dents.

Here are some of the main pros of laminate countertops:

  • Affordable – Laminate counters are the most budget-friendly countertop option, costing $20-50 per square foot installed. This makes them ideal for homeowners on a tight budget.
  • Extensive style options – Laminate comes in a huge array of colors, patterns, and realistic-looking stone and wood grains. This allows you to get the high-end look you want at a fraction of the cost.
  • Easy maintenance – Laminate counters are non-porous, so spills and messes can be easily wiped away. You don’t have to seal or regularly polish laminate.
  • Highly durable – Laminate countertops can last 10-20 years with proper care and maintenance. Their resin coating resists scratches, dents, heat, and stains.

However, there are some downsides to consider with laminate:

  • Susceptible to damage – While durable, the plastic laminate layer can become chipped or delaminate if subjected to heavy impacts or abuse. The edges are particularly vulnerable.
  • Difficult repairs – Fixing damage to laminate countertops often requires fully replacing sections. The colors and patterns may no longer match after repairs.
  • Limited heat resistance – While laminate counters can withstand moderate heat exposure, placing very hot pans directly on them can cause bubbling or other damage over time.
  • Resale value – Laminate counters generally don’t increase home value. Many buyers view them as outdated or low-end when remodeling a kitchen.

What is Quartz?

Quartz countertops are engineered stone slabs made from ground quartz particles blended with polymer resins and pigments. The quartz provides strength and hardness, while the resins bind the material together into a cohesive countertop.

Here are some of the key benefits of quartz counters:

  • Visual appeal – With options that mimic marble, granite, and other natural stone, quartz delivers the high-end visual look of natural stone with more consistency in color and pattern.
  • Extreme durability – Quartz is non-porous and resistant to scratches, stains, heat, and cracks. It can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance.
  • Easy care – Quartz requires very little maintenance. Simply wipe spills as they occur and clean occasionally with soap and water. No sealing needed.
  • Heat and stain resistance – Quartz counters can withstand heat up to 212°F. Stains will not absorb into the material’s non-porous surface.
  • Increases resale value – Quartz counters are preferred by many home buyers and can increase your home’s resale value compared to more dated options like laminate.

Some drawbacks of quartz to note include:

  • Higher price – At $80-150 per square foot installed, quartz is one of the pricier countertop materials. It’s 3-4x the cost of laminate.
  • Limited colors/patterns – While improving, quartz still has less diversity in style options compared to laminate. Natural stone appearances are most common.
  • Seams more visible – The resin in quartz can make seams between countertop slabs somewhat more apparent than materials like granite.
  • Needs professional installation – Quartz counters require precise installation due to their weight. Hiring a pro is recommended, further adding to costs.

Key Differences Between Laminate and Quartz

| Factor | Laminate | Quartz |
| Cost | $20-50 per sq. ft. installed | $80-150 per sq. ft. installed |
| Durability | Durable, but susceptible to chipping/delamination over time | Extremely durable and scratch/stain/heat resistant |
| Appearance | Huge diversity of colors and patterns | Limited color options, mostly natural stone looks |
| Maintenance | Easy maintenance. Wipe spills when they occur | Easy maintenance. Occasional cleaning with soap and water |
| Heat Tolerance | Moderate heat tolerance. Not suitable for direct hot pans | Excellent heat tolerance up to 212°F |
| Resale Value | Generally decreases value of home | Increases resale value of home |
| DIY Installation | Relatively easy for DIY install | Professional installation recommended |

Which is Better: Laminate or Quartz Countertops?

When choosing between laminate vs quartz, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Budget – Quartz costs significantly more than laminate, so laminate counters are the better choice if you are on a tight budget. The lower cost comes with more limitations, however.
  • Long-term performance – Quartz is the clear winner in terms of durability and longevity. With proper maintenance, quartz can easily last decades without showing signs of wear. Laminate has a shorter lifespan of 10-20 years.
  • Aesthetic preferences – If having an extensive range of colors and mimic natural materials like wood or granite are important, laminate offers more options to achieve the look you want. Quartz provides a more consistent, stone-like look.
  • Maintenance – Both materials are low maintenance. Laminate requires a bit more care around heat and impact. Quartz is nearly indestructible with routine cleaning.
  • Resale value – Quartz counters will better retain their value and appeal to buyers when it comes time to sell your home. Laminate is more likely to be viewed as dated.

The Bottom Line

For many homeowners, quartz is the better overall choice if budget allows, providing unparalleled durability, visual appeal, and resale value. Laminate offers an extremely affordable alternative for achieving a variety of stylish looks. But laminate comes with more limitations in terms of longevity, heat resistance, and susceptibility to damage over time.

If opting for laminate, it’s wise to accept the shorter lifespan and likelihood that replacements or upgrades will be needed down the road. Going with quartz offers the closest thing to a “forever” countertop that will serve you well for decades to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is laminate or quartz cheaper?

Laminate is significantly cheaper than quartz. Laminate costs $20-50 per square foot installed, while quartz runs $80-150 per square foot installed.

How durable is laminate compared to quartz?

Quartz is much more durable and damage resistant than laminate. Laminate is prone to chipping, scratches, bubbling from heat, and delamination over time. Quartz can resist scratches, stains, heat, and cracks for many decades.

Can you cut on laminate countertops?

It’s not recommended to cut directly on laminate counters as the sharp blade can slice through the thin plastic laminate layer causing permanent damage. Always use a cutting board. Quartz is more resistant to cutting scratches.

Does quartz add value to a home?

Yes, quartz countertops will increase a home’s resale value, while laminate counters are viewed by many home buyers as outdated and likely to need replacement. The upgrade to quartz can help attract buyers and bring a higher sale price.

Is it cheaper to install laminate countertops yourself?

Laminate countertops are relatively easy for DIY installation, so you can save on labor costs by installing them yourself. Quartz is quite heavy, so professional installation is strongly recommended.


When choosing between laminate and quartz countertops, quartz is the clear winner in terms of durability, appearance, maintenance, and investment value, while laminate offers an affordable alternative with more versatility in colors and patterns. Carefully weigh your budget, lifestyle needs, and goals for the home when deciding. And take comfort that whichever you choose, both laminate and quartz can provide beautiful, functional countertops for years to come.