Laminate countertops are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms because they are affordable and easy to maintain. But can laminate be used outdoors? This is a question that many homeowners ask themselves when choosing countertop material for their outdoor kitchen or barbeque and worktop areas.
Technically, you can use laminate outdoors. If you want a cheap and short-term solution, then go for it. You can install a laminate countertop outdoors, seal or waterproof it properly, and it should be fine for about a year or two.
However, I do not recommend using laminate outdoors because it is not made to withstand the elements. In addition, laminate is susceptible to damage from sunlight and moisture, so it will not last long if you use it outdoors. Instead, I recommend using a more durable material like granite or quartz for your outdoor countertop needs.
There are a few more things I would like to tell you with regards to this topic, so you want to stick around as I will be discussing them in more detail below.
What Are Laminate Countertops Made Of?
To know where laminate countertops can be used, it is important to understand what they are made of. Laminate countertops are plastic fused with particleboard or paper. The paper is printed with a pattern and then covered with a clear plastic layer.
Laminate is a very popular countertop choice because it is so versatile. It comes in many colors and patterns, and it can mimic the look of more expensive materials like granite, marble, and even wood.
The process of making laminate countertops begins with;
- taking sheets of kraft paper and saturating them with melamine resin. The saturated paper is then placed on top of a decorative layer, which can be anything from a photograph to a piece of metal foil.
- Another sheet of kraft paper is placed on top of the decorative layer, and the entire stack is pressed together and cured in a high-pressure laminate press.
- Once the laminate sheets are cured, they are cut into counter countertop-sized pieces and then installed on top of a ply plywood wood or particleboard substrate.
Are Laminate Countertops Weather Or Waterproof?
Looking at the structure of laminate countertops which are usually made up of several layers of paper that are glued together, it is not surprising that laminate countertops are not weatherproof.
Laminate countertops are very susceptible to water damage. This is because the glue that holds the layers of paper together can start to break down when exposed to the weather elements, causing the laminate to delaminate or peel away from the substrate.
Laminate countertops are also not resistant to sunlight. The UV rays from the sun can fade the color of the laminate, and over time, the sun can cause the laminate to warp. More on this later!
Should You Use Laminate Countertops Outside?
This now begs the question, should you use laminate countertops outside? My answer to that is No! Why? Because of the following reasons;
1. Outdoor Laminate Countertops Are Prone To Rot
When laminate countertops are used outdoors, they are constantly exposed to moisture and humidity, which can cause the particleboard or plywood substrate to rot.
Once the substrate starts to rot, it is only a matter of time before the entire countertop collapses.
This is because the plywood, particleboards, or kraft paper used are not very durable and are not meant to be used outdoors.
2. Laminate Countertops Are Not UV Resistant
Laminate countertops are also susceptible to fading when exposed to sunlight. The UV rays from the sun can cause the laminate to warp and discolor over time. As I explained earlier, the surface of laminate countertops is made up of layers of paper that are glued together.
The glue that holds the layers of paper together can start to break down when exposed to UV rays, causing the laminate to delaminate or peel away from the substrate.
3. Outdoor Laminate Countertops Are Prone To Mildew
Another reason why using laminate countertops outside is not a bright idea is because they are prone to mildew.
Mildew is a type of fungus that thrives in humid and moist environments. When laminate countertops are used outdoors, they are constantly exposed to moisture and humidity, which can cause the growth of mildew.
Mildew can cause the laminate to discolor and also make it smell musty. In severe cases, mildew can also cause the laminate to rot.
4. Laminate Countertops Can Warp In The Heat
Laminate countertops can also warp in the heat. This is because the laminate sheets are made of paper that is glued together.
When exposed to constant high temperatures, the glue that holds the layers of paper together can start to break down, causing the laminate to warp.
This is why it is not a good idea to use laminate countertops near a grill or as countertop material for an outdoor kitchen.
5. Laminate Countertops Can Crack In Cold Weather
Another problem with using laminate countertops outdoors is that they can crack in cold weather.
When the temperature drops, the laminate sheets contract and expand, which can cause the laminate to crack.
This does not make for a beautiful outdoor countertop. So, if you live in a cold climate, it is probably best to avoid using laminate countertops outdoors.
Things To Consider When Using Laminate Countertops Outdoors
Now that we have established that laminate countertops are not meant to be used outdoors, there are many things you should consider if you are determined to use them anyway.
- Make Sure They Are Properly Sealed
If you already have a laminate countertop installed outside or have decided to go this route, you need to ensure that the countertop is sealed correctly.
This will help to protect the countertop from moisture and humidity, as well as UV rays. You can use epoxy laminate countertop sealants as they are designed to withstand the elements.
Make sure to mix and apply the sealant evenly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use Them In A Covered Area
If you are determined to use laminate countertops outdoors, make sure to use them in a covered area. This will help protect them from direct sunlight and moisture, and humidity.
You can also use them in an outdoor enclosed area, such as a screened-in porch or sunroom. This will help to extend the life of your laminate countertop.
- Use Them For Temporary Use
Another thing to consider if you must use laminate countertops outdoors is that they are only meant for temporary use.
This means that you should not install them as permanent countertops. They are not meant to withstand the elements long-term and will need to be replaced eventually.
So, if you are using laminate countertops outdoors, make sure to use them for temporary purposes only. This could include using them for an outdoor kitchen during the summer months or for a special event.
- Re-seal The Laminate Countertop Every Few Months
Even if you have sealed the countertop, you need to re-seal it every few months to ensure that it is adequately protected. This will help to extend the life of your laminate countertop and slow down any damage that may occur.
To re-seal the countertop, simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and degreasing the laminate surface before re-applying the laminate countertop sealant.
- Make Sure The Sealant Or Waterproofer Doesn’t Soak In
When you are applying the sealant or waterproof, make sure that it does not soak into the laminate, which means that you should go for laminate sealants or waterproofers that do not require more than two coats.
You can also choose a waterproofing spray that will form a barrier on top of the laminate to prevent any liquids from seeping in and causing damage.
Otherwise, this will cause the laminate to swell and could eventually lead to warping and cracking.
- Try As Much As Possible To Avoid Seams
When you are installing laminate countertops, try to avoid seams as much as possible. Seams are the weak spot on laminate countertops where moisture can get in – and are more likely to warp and crack when exposed to the elements.
If you must have seams, make sure to seal them properly with a seam sealer designed for laminate countertops.
- Install Laminate Countertops In Shaded or Roofed Areas
If you are installing laminate countertops outdoors, make sure to install them in shaded or roofed areas. This will help protect them from direct sunlight, UV rays, moisture, and humidity.
Laminate countertops are not meant to be used outdoors and will not withstand the elements long-term. However, if they are installed in a well-shaded place, it will reduce the chance of them being damaged by the sun or moisture.
- Use A Cutting Board
If you will be doing some cutting and chopping on your laminate countertop, make sure to use a cutting board.
This will help protect the laminate from scratching or chipping by knives. It is also essential to use a cutting board because it can be difficult to clean up after cutting on a laminate countertop.
- Use A Waterproof Cover When It Rains or Not In Use
If you are not using your laminate countertop, make sure to cover it with a waterproof cover. This will help protect it from the elements and prevent any damage.
Waterproof covers are especially important if you live in an area that rains frequently. It is also good to use a cover when the laminate countertop is not in use for an extended period of time.
By following these tips, you can help extend the life of your outdoor laminate countertop. However, remember that laminate countertops are not meant to be used outdoors and should only be used temporarily.
How Long Do Laminate Countertops Last Outside?
Laminate countertops can last for several years when used indoors. However, they will only last for a few months and up to two years with proper sealing and protection when used outdoors. This is because laminate countertops are not meant to withstand the elements long-term and will eventually need to be replaced.
So, if you are using laminate countertops outdoors, make sure to seal them properly and use a waterproof cover when they are not in use. By doing this, you can help extend the life of your outdoor laminate countertop.
What Type Of Countertop Is Best For The Outdoors?
Now let’s get into some of the best outdoor countertop materials. Here are a few of the most popular;
Concrete is a great choice for outdoor countertops because it is very durable and can withstand the elements well. It is also a relatively inexpensive option. Plus, it is easy to clean and maintain. The challenge is that it is porous, so that it can stain easily.
Granite is another popular choice for outdoor countertops because it is very durable and can withstand the elements well. It is also easy to clean and maintain. However, it is a more expensive option than concrete.
Another great alternative for your outdoor countertops is soapstone. Soapstone is a natural stone that is heat resistant, scratch-resistant, and stain-resistant. It is also non-porous so that it won’t absorb liquids or oils. Soapstone is an excellent choice for outdoor kitchens because it can withstand the elements and won’t be damaged by the sun, rain, or snow.
Tile is a great choice for outdoor countertops because it is easy to clean and maintain. Plus, it comes in various colors and designs, so you can find the perfect one to match your outdoor décor. The downside is that it can crack or chip if not installed correctly.
Quartzite is a good option if you’re looking for a natural stone countertop that can stand up to the elements. This tough stone is often used in outdoor kitchens and patios.
It’s important to note that while quartzite is tough, it’s not indestructible. It can stain and scratch, so it’s important to seal it and be careful with placing hot pots and pans on it.
As we have established, laminate countertops are not the best countertop material for your outdoor kitchen. However, if you’re looking for a temporary countertop solution, laminate is a good and budget-friendly choice. Remember to seal it and use a waterproof cover when it’s not in use.
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, there are many great alternatives to choose from. Concrete, granite, soapstone, tile, etc.
I hope this article has helped you better to understand the best outdoor countertop materials for your needs. Thanks for reading!