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The New Laminates

The New Laminates
The latest laminates from Formica offer stylish alternatives for
The late 1940's ushered in a new era of homebuilding across America, and laminate countertops were the popular and affordable look of the day. Colorful and cheerful patterns adorned millions of homes, and laminates continued their heyday into the 1970's, where they were gradually replaced by solid surface materials. Eventually, granite and quartz became the reigning kings of countertops, where their popularity continues to this day. But thanks to technological improvements and a renewed interest in mid-century modern design, it now looks like laminates are having a revival. With today's laminates builders, designers, and homeowners can create fresh new looks that are affordable and sustainable. 

During the recent International Builder's Show in Las Vegas, I viewed some of these hot new products first hand, and they didn't disappoint. At the Wilsonart booth I attended a presentation by Danny Seo, a ‘green’ designer who loves using laminate in unconventional ways that reflect the personal style of the homeowner. Gorgeous textured wood grain patterns were used to create simple modern cabinetry. The current trend of mixing patterns and solid colors lets designers get creative and give a space glamour and personality.

Wilsonart’s ‘Buka Bark’ covering this wall makes a stylish and affordable alternative to real wood. The

company's laminate patterns range from elegant granite graining to whimsical baseballs and basketballs.

At the Formica booth, there were some very cool new patterns and colors in laminate created by iconic potter and design guru Jonathan Adler. Aptly named “Home Chic Home”, the collection was fresh and colorful, with a retro vibe that’s prevalent in Jonathan’s pottery and stylish, hip accessories. I think Formica’s association with Adler has taken laminate design to a new level, and I honestly think we’ll be seeing much more in the world of design catering to ‘millennials’.

Formica’s ‘Orange Greek Key’ with ‘Crème Lacquered Linen’. 
There are two edge details - plain and ogee, and it's not a 'post form' type edge, it's fused on after the top is fabricated. You can also use laminate with undermount sinks. 

Formica’s ‘Charcoal Greek Key’ with ‘Bleached Concrete’. 
The use of a fun, funky pattern like the Greek key on the backsplash and the raw cement-hued laminate on the counter is a great way to add cool pattern and color and 'temper' it with the solid grey concrete color. So it's a balancing act of color, texture and style. With a little added 'twist' of your own personal style, be it 'retro' or industrial, or even a little bit 'shabby', you can call it your own.

Improved Choice for Flooring

Laminate flooring was introduced into the US in the 1980's. Its popularity has grown tremendously due to its lower cost and do-it-yourself capability. But product design has been somewhat limited until recently, and strides in manufacturing have created designs and textures that are amazingly realistic, especially with the wood lookalike laminate flooring from deep ebonies and exotics to large planks of bleached oak; now the lines between faux and real are completely blurred. Today's laminates are a reasonable alternative to reclaimed lumber, which has has always been a coveted flooring, but whose availability and high cost have kept it out of the reach of most buyers.
The foam insulating layer used by today's manufacturers is thicker and denser, and cuts back on the give-away hollow sound that you used to get with laminate flooring. Also the trim pieces hold the floor edges tight to the floor, so there's more of a 'solid' feel. I went to a store and walked on it, and it was great feeling. I was always hesitant to use laminate floors because they sounded so hollow and thin, but they seem to have that problem licked.

I found an amazing new floor from Quick-Step’s ‘Reclaime’ collection that’s beautiful, and very affordable -- here it is in "Malted Tawny." This floor is so realistic looking (and feeling) you can now have the look of reclaimed or salvaged lumber without the hefty price tag. Cleaning laminate flooring is simple: just use mild soap and water and a mop.

Recognized as one of the early ‘mavericks’ of green design, interior designer Patricia Gaylor has collaborated on numerous show houses including Sarah Susanka's Home Dy Design, BASF’s “Near Zero Energy Home,” and GREEN BUILDER Magazine's "VISION HOUSE" and "REVISION HOUSE" series.

The New Laminates Inspiration

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