Laminate kitchen countertops are not nearly as durable as granite or natural stone and in general will require more vigilant care to avoid damage.
However, laminate countertops are a great value and resistance to wear and tear is improving. Plus, routine cleaning of laminate kitchen countertops is not difficult or demanding.
Like any countertop surface, you just need to learn what you should and shouldn't do, you won't have many if any problems saving you plenty in repairs or replacement.
Sratches, chips & cuts are a problem with laminate. Laminate will scratch and chip rather easily, especially at the edges and knives will cut the surface. So, here's a couple tips to keep in mind when purchasing laminate....
Heat resistance of laminate is not good comparatively speaking. The materials and process used manufacturing countertop laminate limit its ability to take the heat, so laminate countertops are only mildly heat resistant (up to about 150 degrees F/66C).
Some consumer research magazines will have you believe that laminate is as heat tolerant as granite... well that's spectacularly false.
Laminate is plastic. It melts.
You may get away with placing a hot cookie sheet on a laminate surface for a few seconds, but pulling a hot pot off a gas flame straight onto your laminate is a different matter.
In either instance you're risking permanent damage, so it's definitely not advisable.
Stain & chemical resistance is another story... although laminate countertops are not very scratch or heat resistant, they do score very well for chemical and stain resistance, but they're not stain-proof.
Follow these care & cleaning tips to avoid scratches, stains, burns and maintain your laminate kitchen countertops in top shape:
You want to really pay attention and be diligent about cleaning and maintaining your laminate in good condition because (unlike granite or marble) laminate cannot be repaired... at least not so it's unoticeable.
And I'm sure you don't want to save a bunch of money installing laminate countertops over say granite or tile only to end up having to soon replace them due to carelessness.
All-in-all though, laminate kitchen countertops are fairly sturdy and barring outright neglect will provide many years of use and enjoyment.