What is laminate?

Laminate is a term used to refer to a type of material which has been manufactured in a specific way. Laminate is a multi-layer synthetic material which has many applications around the home. Laminate is commonly used for purposes such as

  • Flooring
  • Kitchen benchtops
  • Cabinets
  • Tables

The two most important layers which compose laminate are the core layer and the external or ‘skin’ layer. The core layer is made from melamine resin and fiber board material, which provides a strong and durable skeleton.

The external layer of laminate is the layer that will be visible to the observer once the laminate has been installed (or in the case of flooring, laid). Laminate’s top layer can be imprinted upon, giving laminate a versatile repertoire of colours, textures and styles. Popular choices include a real wood-grain look, or block colours.

Why do people choose laminate?

Laminate has a number of advantages which set it apart as a protective material. This is true for laminate in all of its forms, whether it is used for flooring, cabinetry, or as a kitchen benchtop / tabletop material. The advantages of laminate include

  • Durable
  • Waterproof
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Damage-resistant
  • Longevity
  • Easy to install
  • Affordable
  • DIY-friendly
  • Huge range of styles, colours and textures

What colours and style laminates can you get in Australia?

One of the best aspects of laminate as a material is that if you decide to have an all-laminate kitchen, you can match your laminate benchtops colours with the laminate colours for kitchen cabinets – creating a cohesive colour scheme within your kitchen.

There are various laminate colour charts that you can use to decide on colour combinations and variations, or you could choose instead to have one blanket colour for a vintage effect.

Styles

The most common styles of laminate are plain, wood grain, and natural stone. Wood grain laminates imitate the look of natural timber for a fraction of the price. The most common laminates have a basic wood-grain design which imitates typical timber.

Higher end wood-grain laminates are likely to have rustic or historical patterns and will often be a more distinct shade (i.e. dark brown instead of the typical light timber). Low end wood-grain laminate is not seen as desirable within the interior design community because the printed layer lacks ‘natural variance’ – i.e. the pattern will repeat many times, making it obvious that the material is not authentic timber because every plank (or second plank, or third plank) is identical.

Colour

One of the main draws to laminate over natural materials such as timber and natural stone is the ability to colour laminate. Laminate products are available in just about every hue on the colour wheel, giving the control of complete customization to the purchaser.

Popular laminate colours include light blues, reds, and yellows, which have a particularly vintage feel. Another popular colour decision for laminate is the monochromatic colour scheme, with white or black laminate providing a neutral anchor for kitchen d├ęcor.

When it comes to laminate flooring, bold colours like reds and yellows are less common. Laminate flooring is more likely to mimic traditional natural materials than laminate benchtops or cabinets.

Coloured laminate colour combinations: The 10 best laminate colours in Australia’s colour range

10. Sage green

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Sage green has recently become hugely popular in interior design schemes as a soft colour which blends well with neutral tones. Sage green in the kitchen communicates a sense of calmness and freshness that creates a soothing atmosphere.

Polytech laminate has a deep sage green benchtop laminate available here.

09. Light Grey

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Light grey is a contemporary and elegant colour that looks beautiful in laminate. It can be used for flooring as well as benchtops and cabinets. Light grey laminate benchtops look best when printed with a concrete finish, giving the kitchen a sense of industrial chic.

You can purchase the light grey laminate benchtop pictured above here for $181.50.

08. Dark Grey

 

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue redDark grey is a slightly more sophisticated choice with a moody and mysterious effect. Dark grey laminate benchtops and cabinets have an air of mature elegance that works best when offset against bright pops of colour.

You can purchase a dark grey benchtop laminate here from the extensive neutrals range by Laminex.

07. Beige

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Laminex is undoubtedly one of Australia’s leading beige laminate providers. Their colour range is extensive and you can find multiple shades of beige here as well as other neutrals, bold colours, and even printed woodgrain/natural stone.

The kitchen pictured above, designed using Laminex products, is a fine example of how layers of beige colours can create a charmingly simple aesthetic.

06. Black

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Black laminate has a dramatic and contemporary look sure to turn heads. A bold choice, black laminate is also very practical as it will make stains or damage difficult to notice – especially when compared to white laminate.

Black laminate is becoming very popular and you can purchase black benchtop laminate here from bunnings for $119.

05. Red

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Red is another bold colour for a kitchen benchtop. Different shades of red have different effects. For example, a bright, deep red like the one above creates an artistic atmosphere of experimentation and confidence. A pale red is more likely to create a vintage feel.

Thankfully, Laminex has a range of red with all manner of shades as well as glossy and matt finishes.

04. Blue

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Blue is a creative colour that inspires friendliness and calm. Blue and white is the most common colour combination for a kitchen as together these colours create a sense of cleanliness and order. Dark blue is an artistic, moody and creative choice, while light blue is more subtle and rustic.

It works well for cabinetry and laminates. Browse laminates in shades of blue here.

03. Wood grain (natural)

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

A natural look wood grain laminate floor is an excellent way to ensure the longevity of your floors without worrying about the susceptibility of real timber to water, pests and rot. High end wood grain laminate is almost indistinguishable from the real thing – though be aware that cheap laminate will often be easy to identify.

Read more about laminate flooring and the best Australian brands for it here.

02. Wood grain (dark)

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

A dark natural wood tone has an elegant look that lends well to a rustic or classic setting. Laminate flooring with a dark wood appearance will often come in patterns such as the herringbone pictured above or other forms of parquet flooring.

You can purchase herringbone laminate here from Havwoods or order a free sample.

01. Natural stone

Laminate colours benchtop cabinet flooring ideas tabletop timber wood natural stone blue red

Undeniably one of the most beautiful kitchen benchtop materials is natural stone. Raw, unrefined stone such as marble or granite has an asymmetric beauty that is incomparable to most other styles.

Unfortunately, authentic natural stone is a luxury few can afford, with prices up to three times as high for a high quality laminate benchtop with the same effect. Polytec has one of Australia’s most authentic ranges of natural stone laminate, with their marble and granite options virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

To browse their extensive range or to request a sample, see here. For more information about kitchen benchtop trends, read about the top materials for 2022.