Formica bathroom vanity top

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Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

Are laminate countertops making a comeback? Find out why I chose to use them in our recent bathroom makeover and where I’m considering using them again.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

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We wrapped up our Master Bathroom refresh a couple of months ago and I’m so happy with the outcome! With some budget friendly upgrades and a simple change of paint color on the walls and doors, this space looks and feels way more upscale than it actually cost.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops
Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

One of the biggest factors of this transformation were our new laminate countertops, and I’m just as shocked as you. Up until a few months ago I don’t think I would’ve considered using laminate countertops in a bathroom. And I had all sorts of misconceptions about them.

But today’s laminate countertops aren’t what you remember seeing in the 80’s or 90’s and they certainly don’t look anything like what you’re used to being in office spaces or public restrooms.

Laminate countertop manufacturers today are savvy and they’re competing against luxury materials for style and durability.

So why did I ultimately choose laminate countertops?


Definitely the biggest deciding factor in our bathroom refresh project was the cost of laminate countertops. While I absolutely love how the space feels more updated now, we’d still like to do a full renovation at some point. And our vanity makeover complete with new cabinets and countertops wasn’t intended to be a permanent solution.

I couldn’t justify dropping over a grand on new quartz or granite countertops only to demo the room a few years from now.

So I started researching the least expensive countertop materials and even considered painting my old ugly cultured marble countertops for a hot minute. But I really did want this room to look DIY’d. Even though we painted the vanity cabinets, it was still in need of something new to freshen it up.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

I realized I could save a ton of money on new countertops if I went with a laminate surface option. I also realized that today’s laminate countertops, while they may be super inexpensive, actually don’t look cheap at all.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

In fact, unless you’re touching or looking up close at our counters, you wouldn’t even be able to tell they were laminate. Pretty neat huh?

If you’re thinking of installing your own laminate countertops make sure to grab my free PDF guide which will walk you through the entire process, step-by-step.

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They look like granite!

I was blown away by all of the laminate countertop options available. They make everything from wood look to stone, marble or granite appearance. When I was growing up, all I remember seeing in homes were white or green with maybe some speckles in it if you wanted to get really fancy.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

These are some of the countertops I was considering for our bathroom. At around $100 per slab of laminate it was a steal. I still can’t believe how much it looks like granite, but is way cheaper.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops
Why I Chose Laminate Countertops
Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

We eventually settled on this laminate granite look countertop to go with some of the more beige tones in our shower and floor tile and I couldn’t be happier.

Why I Chose Laminate Countertops

You can customize them

While I shied away from some of the more expensive laminate countertop options, mainly because this was meant to be a budget makeover project. I still couldn’t believe how much you could customize them.

If you want really upscale laminate countertops you can choose fancy beveled or ogee edges and even high definition finishes. High definition laminate countertops have more depth to their patterns and provide a more realistic look, but they also create textured laminate countertops complete with realistic etchings on the surface.

And don’t even get me started on how they can incorporate these countertops now in bathtub surrounds, undermount sinks and backsplashes.

Years ago, the only option you had for a sink with laminate countertop were traditional drop ins. But being able to customize them can give you a high-end look for a fraction of the cost.

Check out these gorgeous budget friendly vessel sinks we added for a high end look!

They’re DIY friendly

It’s very easy to install laminate countertops yourselves with just a few basic tools. So if you’re DIY savvy, and even if you’re not, installing laminate countertops can be done without the added cost of a professional. Which obviously checked another box on the list for our budget bathroom makeover project.

For an easy step-by-step guide on how to install laminate countertops make sure to grab my free PDF copy below!

Get the PDF guide to learn how!

And gain access to my exclusive design library full of DIY Home Improvement & Design goodies!

Thank you!

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I always pictured chipped, peeling and worn countertops when I thought of laminate, but today’s styles are much more durable than they used to be. I initially questioned if we should be adding laminate as our bathroom countertops, because it’s of course going to get wet from time to time.

But many of the styles today are built to withstand the moisture of day to day use and as long as you care for them properly, they can last as long as 10-20 years before needing replaced.

Of course there are pros and cons to choosing laminate countertops, and while they may not rival Quartz or Granite when it comes to heat and scratch resistance, they do make a great durable and budget friendly option.

So, are laminate countertops back in style?

Well, I’m sold on them. And I’m excited for another opportunity to try out this budget friendly countertop in our someday future basement bar. What are your thoughts?

Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think of this new countertop trend. And don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to stay up to date on all the DIY and home design trends!

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Formica Bathroom Countertops

Get all the info you'll need on Formica bathroom countertops, and get ready to install an efficient and economical countertop in your bath space.

Photo Credit: HDR Homes

A neutral base provides a canvas for changing out accessories by the season. Oil-rubbed bronze fixtures lend a touch of Old World style while the frameless mirror sends a modern message.

Formica bathroom countertops are a popular brand of laminate countertops. They come in a wide range of styles and colors and represent one of the most economical choices for bathroom countertops.

The almost universal availability of Formica bathroom countertops, along with their easy customizability and the variety of styles and colors to choose from, make this countertop material an easy choice for many homeowners. In addition, Formica bathroom countertops are considerably cheaper than higher-end materials like granite, manufactured quartz and soapstone.

On the "con" side, durability can be an issue with Formica countertops. They can scratch, dent and chip fairly easily, and if they feature top surfaces that have been glued on, peeling can occur. That said, in general, Formica bathroom countertops are a practical and durable option, particularly for families with high-traffic bathrooms.

Additionally, Formica countertops can mimic the look of higher-end materials like granite, or even wood, simply by applying a veneer to the surface that approximates the natural material at a fraction of the cost.

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How to Install Laminate Formica for a Bathroom Vanity Countertop

Dan has been a homeowner for some 40 years and has nearly always done his own repair and improvement tasks. He is a licensed electrician.

While many homeowners cringe at the very thought of installing laminate formica, it is actually an easy task to accomplish with a modicum of care and the proper tools. You can save a considerable amount of money and produce a new look to your home.

My son recently purchased his first home with a small, unfinished bathroom, and he asked for my help in producing a countertop for the vanity in that bathroom. Funds were very limited and he opted for making his own formica covered top rather than a preformed top including a sink.

Using little more than a small piece of ¾" plywood, some glue, and a piece of formica purchased from a broken roll, we were able to make a good looking countertop for less than $20.

Planning the Project

With the new vanity set into place in the bathroom, careful measurements were needed to be made for the size and shape of the new top. We found the walls to be very nearly square, but older homes with a vanity in a corner may not be that accommodating and might require a countertop to be made to fit the walls instead of a simple square of wood.

The overhang (how far the countertop sticks out past the vanity itself) was chosen to be 1" on both sides and the front with the back side of the vanity flush to the wall. We decided not to have any type of backsplash. That simplified the job somewhat, although a backsplash could have been made at the same time as a simple 4" high additional piece of plywood covered with formica.

With materials and plans in hand, we headed for the workshop to do the actual work.

Installing the Laminate Formica

Using a circular saw with a fine tooth plywood blade, we cut the countertop from the ¾" plywood to the exact size we needed and sanded the edges slightly to remove any saw burrs and excess glue from the factory. The plywood needs to be clean, with no sawdust or other foreign material; a dry rag served to wipe it down at it was set aside.

Formica can be cut by many methods and we used the same circular saw with the plywood blade. A Sabre saw will work nearly as well, as will a handsaw, and it can even be cut by scoring a line with a razor knife equipped with a formica blade and snapping it apart at the score as if it were sheetrock. Cuts with a circular or sabre saw need to be made from the back side as they cut on the upstroke. They may chip the surface if cut from the top; a handsaw and knife should be used from the top side. A good idea is to place a piece of masking tape along the desired cut line and cut through the tape and formica as it helps prevent chipping and may make the cut line easier to see.

The formica needs to be cut slight larger than the finished surface; we cut it ¼" larger than the plywood in both length and width. This results in an extra 1/8" of formica on all sides. The excess will be removed later, after it is glued down.

With the plywood and formica top both cut it is time to spread the glue. Contact adhesive is generally used, and we had purchased some intended for laminate. Glue was spread on both the plywood and the formica with a small paint brush and set aside to dry. Drying time varies with manufacturer, but is typically only a few minutes. It will feel dry to the touch with only the slightest "tacky" feel but not much more. Check the instructions on the glue for your exact time—excessive drying time will result in a poor bond.

Care must be taken when placing the formica onto the wood, as once the two touch, it is difficult to impossible to move. With our small piece this was not a big problem, but larger pieces may need some help here. One method that works well is to cover the wood with pieces of waxed paper and then set the formica into place. By carefully lifting a small section at one end of the formica and bending it back, some of the waxed paper may be withdrawn and that section of formica set back onto the glue where it will instantly adhere. Proceed to the other end and lift the entire remaining section so that more paper nearest the stuck end can be withdrawn and, repeating the process as many times as necessary, work all the paper out while gradually sticking down more and more of the formica. Remember that there needs to be extra formical protruding past the wood at all edges.

The formica needs to be rolled firmly onto the wood; we used a small hard rubber roller, but a paint roller or even a wooden kitchen rolling pin will work fine. Hand pressure is not recommended; sliding your hand over the surface while pressing hard onto the formica just might move it instead of simply pressing it down.

With the top piece of formica glued down, we set it aside and cut additional formica into strips to cover the edges of the plywood. These strips were cut to 1" wide and as long as necessary to cover the edges of the plywood. Note that this is again ¼" wider than necessary; the plywood is ¾" thick.

Trimming the Excess and Finishing the Edges

After a short 30-minute break to give the glue a little more time to set well, we trimmed the excess formica from the top. The preferred method here is with a router equipped with a special laminate-cutting blade, but a simple file will also work. Router laminate bits are available that give either a straight or bevel cut; use the straight cut at this point. The router bit should have a bearing on it that removes the necessity for a guide and makes the work much easier; simply run the router slowly down the edge of plywood to cut off the excess formica. The finished product at this point should have the formica absolutely even with the edge of the plywood all the way around the countertop.

If a router is not available, a fairly fine file may be used although it will take a little more time and effort. Make sure the file is used only in the down direction; you don't want any chance at all of pulling the formica up and off the plywood or of chipping it.

With the top cut flush the edge pieces can now be glued on in the same manner. We did one piece at a time, making sure that it was flush with the bottom of the plywood, but protruding past the top and ends and then again trimming them flush with the router. A final trim with the beveled router bit purely for appearance sake and the countertop was ready to be cut for the sink.

Finished Formica Top

Installing the Sink

The sink purchased was a little oversized for the vanity, and it proved difficult but not impossible to get it mounted correctly. Make sure that your own sink is the proper size and will fit easily into the vanity.

Using the template that came with the sink an outline was drawn on the back side of the countertop, not forgetting that the sink had to fit into the vanity as well as the countertop. Using a sabresaw, the hole was cut into the countertop and the sink fitted and secured onto the countertop. Returning to the bathroom the completed countertop was attached to the vanity by screws passing up through the vanity from the inside of the cabinet and into the top. Make sure the screws aren't too long and pass completely through the top!

Congratulations: you have constructed and installed your own laminate formica bathroom countertop, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as you thought. If this is among the first of your home improvement projects you may have just started a lifetime of such "work," ranging from fixing doors to installing new light fixtures to perhaps a complete room remodel. It can be a lot fun and certainly a source of pride to perform your own improvements—don't let a lack of confidence get in your way. With a few simple tools, you can accomplish wonders around your home.

Personal observations: I would have made the countertop appear thicker than its ¾" by attaching a small, additional ¾" piece of plywood to the bottom of the plywood at the sides and front. This only needs to be perhaps ½" wide and as the plywood is 1" wider than the vanity it sits on would fit easily and make the top appear to be 1 1/2" think instead of the ¾" it actually is. I would also have provided a backsplash by using an additional piece of plywood as wide as the countertop and 4" tall, covered with formica. Just suggestions you might consider when you install your own countertop.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 Dan Harmon


Sara {House Bella} on July 03, 2013:

Thank you! I'm working on my kitchen countertops and this, along with other tutorials, has helped tremendously.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 01, 2011:

It's a great way to provide a small countertop for a bathroom vanity without spending a fortune.

Cork Underlayment on August 01, 2011:

the idea of install a formica countertop is very good!!

thank you for share!!

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 10, 2010:

Thank you. Your prices are about what I find in my own area as well. One of the nice things when you do it yourself is that you can customize the vanity top to your own needs. Plus, of course, is the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

whitton on December 10, 2010:

Nice Hub Wilderness! Formica counter-tops for a bathroom vanity is a great option. Formica counter-tops run about $7 to $20 per square foot, while granite counter-tops are about $70 to $100 per square foot. You can check prices and special offers from home improvement stores for the best deals. Thanks for your post!

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on November 28, 2010:

Thank you. I enjoy home improvement projects, and laminate formica is a good one to start with.

billrobinson from CA, USA on November 28, 2010:

It is a very interesting hub. Keep on posting more! Thank you.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 19, 2010:

Thank you. Glad you found it of value.

Thanks for the comment

Natural Remedy from Canada on August 18, 2010:

Good information Wilderness. Excellent hub.


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Bathroom vanity top formica

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DIY Replacing Laminate Countertop with Butcher Block!!

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