The low-cost and ease of installing laminate countertops is a big bonus along with the vast array of colors and patterns you have to choose from.
Installing granite and marble countertops requires significant skill, knowledge and experience and must be done by a professional.
Laminate is a different story. A reasonably competent handyman or do-it-yourselfer can handle installing laminate countertops.
However, in most cases professional installation is recommended and will result in much cleaner edges and seams and an overall better, more refined presentation.
Typically the price for laminate countertops
installed is quoted in linear feet. Since most laminate sheeting is
pre-cut to a standard 24-inch countertop depth, using linear feet
simplifies the calculation on most jobs.
In general, you're looking at approximately $20 to $60 a linear foot for laminate depending on several variables like area of country, color chosen, surface finish, edge detail, type of sink and of course who does the installing.
If you have an irregularly shaped countertop or a kitchen island, then you'll have to convert the linear calculation into square feet.
Most other countertop materials are quoted in square feet, so for comparative purposes laminate will run $10 to $30 per square foot.
Of course, the DIY way is the cheapest method for installation and can often be done for around $10 a square foot (laminate plus materials) or less if you go very basic with color and edge. Of course, you can spend quite a bit more if you chose a premium color.
Buying pre-fabricated, sectional laminate kitchen countertops with the laminate already attached to the particle board and the backsplash and edge molded into the form will limit your color choices, but will make installation much easier and faster.
Although the pre-fab sections will cost more than sheets, total installation costs can be similar or even cheaper in some cases.
Professional installation is recommended for the best fit and finish, but it will cost the most of course at around $40 - $60/linear ft. ($20 - $30/sq ft).
Sinks can present some problems. You are really best going with a drop-in sink.
Undermount sinks are possible, but it is difficult to keep the constant supply of water from seeping into the seams of the countertop laminate around the sink leading to warping and rotting of plywood or particle board substrate.
So, laminate countertops will never have the appeal, value or durability of a granite countertop, but considering that natural stone starts at around $45/sq foot... installing laminate countertops is a bargain offering unrivaled color and design possibilities, simple maintenance and easy installation.