In spite of the popularity of granite, Corian® and Silestone® for kitchen and bathroom countertops, laminate remains an attractive alternative. It is considerably less expensive, durable and comes in patterns that mimic natural stone. Today's laminate offers some of the same edging details that are typical of high-end countertops. Although the familiar brown-lined self-edging is still used, post-formed edges and edges featuring decorative accent materials are available.
Self-edging, or straight edging, is the traditional laminate edging used for countertops and is the only one that can be created by a fabricator on the job site. This edge creates a brown line that is especially noticeable on light, solid-colored counters. The brown line is actually the base of the laminate that is exposed at the angle where the vertical edging strip meets the horizontal sheet of laminate that covers the top surface of the counter. It is unavoidable in this type of installation.
Post-formed laminate edging, which is fabricated off site, makes it possible for laminate countertops to have the softer looking, rounded edges often seen on granite and solid surface countertops. Laminate is pliable when it is heated, and it can be wrapped around forms to create a rounded edge. The waterfall edge has the laminate “falling” over the rounded edge of the counter, but it does not wrap around the bottom of the overhang. This unfinished edge can be seen only from below.
The bullnose edge is another post-formed laminate edging. It looks exactly like the waterfall edge, but it wraps all the way around the bottom of the countertop overhang. This extra finishing touch creates a more realistic impression of granite or solid surface material because the entire overhang is smooth — as it would be with stone or solid surface.
Laminate edging can also be beveled. A beveled edge is achieved by cutting the square edge of the counter into a 30 to 45 degree angle that transitions between the vertical front edge of the counter and the horizontal deck or top surface. Like the waterfall and bullnose edgings, beveled edges must be fabricated off site either by manufacturers of laminate or by local cabinet shops.
Wood and assorted tiles make interesting alternatives for edging laminate counters. Strips of pre-finished wood, in a rounded or square profile, or tiles in complementary colors and textures help create a custom look on stock cabinets. This combination of materials is especially effective when used with the realistic stone-look laminates available for kitchen or bathroom countertops.