I often learn of new ads on RemodelingGuy the same way you do, I see them on the site. So I didn’t know an advertising campaign for Wilsonart HD was about to start. I just looked at the site one day, and saw a new ad in the background.
I thought I’d take a minute to write a short post simply to tell you this: I’ve used this stuff and it’s really awesome.
What Is It?
Essentially, it’s a plastic laminate surface material. Wilsonart is one of the largest manufacturers of this material and probably the one I used most frequently when in the construction business. Another brand you probably recognize the name of is Formica. Everyone’s heard of a house with “Formica Countertops”, right? It’s often not actually Formica brand.
But Wilsonart HD is different. That’s why I’m stopping to tell you about it.
If you’re planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel, you probably go through the options in your head and when you get to the countertops you might tend to blow right by the “plastic laminate” option in favor of granite, marble, or solid surface (such as Corian).
Once you’ve seen the selection of this product line, you might pause a little longer on the plastic laminate option.
Bottom line: The stuff looks incredible. The patterns, the colors, the surface textures, the sheen (how glossy it is, or isn’t)… all of it. Just great great options.
I still remember, a few years ago, I was designing a mud/laundry room for a really nice home and was talking with the cabinet maker in their office. They wanted to sell me countertops to go with the cabinets and I said… “we’re using granite.” I didn’t even give a thought to laminate tops.
Then she threw me a chain of sample chips. And my reaction was quote: That’s Laminate!?
A few advances this product exhibits:
- Patterns – I’m not sure how they do this, but the technology for making better patterns on the material has changed dramatically. They can very accurately reproduce stone, wood, or other natural products.
- Colors – The colors have more depth, and most importantly, more subtle variations, which is really the hallmark of natural materials. They can reproduce that very well. I guess that’s the idea behind the “HD” because it’s much like the way an HDTV reproduces a live scene.
- Texture – They’ve always been able to put texture in laminate. You probably remember counters that felt like a plastic copy of leather, or of a natural stone surface like slate. This isn’t like that. The texture they can add to this is subtle, you see it more than feel it. But it adds to the look in a big way. (without making it impossible to clean)
- Sheen – Another advancement in subtlety. The sheens available in laminate used to be either high-gloss (which would blind you and scratched easily), or matte, which had no gloss at all and had a minute little texture to it that let you know what it was. No more. Now you can get a wide variety of sheens and in this particular line of material they look great and make you reach out and run your hands over the surface to see what it feels like… and it feels nice.
Why Go On and On?
I guess I’m ranting about this because I’ve used it myself and have been impressed. And it has the same advantages laminate has always had:
- Cost – It’s cheaper than granite, marble, or solid surface (for the most part).
- Availability – Most colors are in-stock right now.
- Predictability – When your counter is done, you can throw your color chip in the middle of it and it’s going to match. Try that with granite.
- Durability – My mother-in-law (bless her soul) still has the same laminate counters in her kitchen from almost 40 years ago when the house was new. The stuff lasts. (usually…it is possible to damage your mother-in-law’s counters, but we won’t get into that)
- Flexibility – You can design any shape for laminate and you can cover much greater areas without seams. It can also be heated by those with the proper equipment to conform to custom shapes, such as a fancy edge on a counter.
Check It Out Yourself!
Just go into any local custom cabinet manufacturer and they’ll have samples. You can also find samples at Home Depot or Lowe’s (I think). The Wilsonart HD Website has pictures and dealer locators.
If you’re doing a new counter in the kitchen, bath, or wherever, you should at least take a look at this. I’m not saying it’s what I would choose for my kitchen if money were no object, I saw an amazing blue granite a few weeks back that currently holds that fantasy distinction, I’m saying the stuff is really great and you should check it out.
Have fun remodeling!