Thread Number: 79865  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Countertops: Linoleum or Formica?
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Post# 1037714   7/10/2019 at 12:46 by sarahperdue (Alabama)        

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What are your thoughts? I've read that linoleum makes a good countertop, but it seems too soft. I like the resilience, the natural ingredients and the general idea, but Formica seems more durable.

I'm not one to baby my kitchen, so durability is important.

I'm going to link to my mid-century kitchen page. I'm wondering if keeping the lino vs formica conversation in its own thread might be helpful to future AW users with the same questions.

I'm attaching pictures of my linoleum samples and photos of the formica samples which I have not received yet.

Also, I'm looking for some Geneva cabinet pulls like the one pictured.

Many thanks,

CLICK HERE TO GO TO sarahperdue's LINK

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Post# 1037723 , Reply# 1   7/10/2019 at 13:22 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

One of my neighbor's house had linoleum countertops, and may still. The kitchen of the 1936 house was remodeled in 1954, with matching linoleum on the floor and counters, birch cabinets, and GE built-in oven and cooktop. When Hazel lived there, she always kept trivets on the counters to set hot pots on. Regardless of whether you use laminate or linoleum, it would be wise to have stainless steel sections adjoining the sink and range/oven/cooktop.

Post# 1037726 , Reply# 2   7/10/2019 at 13:26 by sarahperdue (Alabama)        
or a Corning counter saver

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Thanks for the advice. My Geneva cabinets came with two built in Corningware counter savers! What could be better?

I love the idea of matching the counter linoleum with an accent strip in the flooring.

Post# 1037727 , Reply# 3   7/10/2019 at 13:28 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

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I can recall some kitchens having linoleum counter tops, especially in Red, and they seemed to hold up OK, after all, linoleum is meant to be walked on with shoes, so it is pretty durable. This IMHO would give the most authentic early 50ís look.

If you decide to go with formica for extra durability, I would choose the first sample, the grey, crazed pattern. The boomerang patterns are more appropriate for a late 50ís, early 60ís look, but they would work too.

You also canít go wrong with tile counter tops, like were used back then, but finding that style of tiles would probably be like looking for a needle in a haystack. All the tile for sale now is usually subway tile, which would be close, but no cigar.

Anyway Sarah, you must be having a ball getting this retro kitchen done.


Post# 1037729 , Reply# 4   7/10/2019 at 13:37 by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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My grandmother's last home was built in about 1948 and included black linoleum countertops with aluminum trim.  The house did not have a dishwasher, of course, and was about 10 years old when she purchased it, but the counters were already showing signs of deterioration around the sink.  I don't know if someone had been careless with water or if the exposure was inevitable, but eventually the countertops were replaced with plastic laminate due to water damage adjacent to the sink.



Post# 1037730 , Reply# 5   7/10/2019 at 13:39 by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        

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I am going to say go with Formica, but go to an independent counter fabricator who has access to all brands like Wilsonart too.  There is a lot more to select from and you can find what you want in a laminate.

Post# 1037732 , Reply# 6   7/10/2019 at 13:47 by sarahperdue (Alabama)        
that's what I'm afraid of

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The kind of wear you mention, Lawrence. I think I really want linoleum but I am afraid formica will win.

If I go with linoleum, given your description of water damage, I will most definitely go with the double drainboard sink...

And did I mention that I have built in Corningware counter savers?

Post# 1037734 , Reply# 7   7/10/2019 at 14:19 by kevin313 (Detroit, Michigan)        
Hands down Formica

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I recently built a kitchen and looked at all kinds of options. No material is perfect in every situation, but for durability, ease of installation, and options of designs, Formica (mine is actually WilsonArt laminate) was the best possible choice.

Here are some of the counters I installed:

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Post# 1037737 , Reply# 8   7/10/2019 at 14:22 by sarahperdue (Alabama)        
Thanks, Kevin

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Your countertops look great! I will probably trim mine with stainless or aluminum.

Did you consider linoleum, and if so, why did you decide not to use it.


Post# 1037749 , Reply# 9   7/10/2019 at 15:22 by kevin313 (Detroit, Michigan)        

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I thought about linoleum, as I really do like the look of it, but I was only going to do these counters once in my lifetime, and I was unconvinced of linoleum's durability long-term.

Trimming in metal will be wonderful! Given the size of my countertops around the kitchen, this option exceeded my budget, otherwise I would had stainless steel edges.

Post# 1037752 , Reply# 10   7/10/2019 at 15:39 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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Ive read that linoleum counter tops were quite popular in the 30s-40s. Like Eddie stated it was meant as flooring so it is durable. But as mentioned it cant take repeated exposure to standing water as it will degrade. I guess you'd have to be vigilant about drying any water that may be splashed on it.

Im at the same point in my 1956 ranch renovation. I have most, if not all, of the counter top samples you do and Id also like to do a metal edge on my counter tops. The "cracked ice" pattern you have in gray is also available in yellow, red and green.

Please tell who makes the flooring you show. Im leaning toward sheet vinyl for my floor but am having a difficult time finding a pattern I like. I found a pattern by IVC that looked like terrazzo that I really liked but it turned out to be very expensive as it's a commercial product. I wish inlaid linoleum was still available. There were so many neat patterns offered.

My cousin & her husband next door (who is across the road from the house Im renovating) built their house the same year as mine. I always liked the linoleum in her kitchen. White background with randomly spaced starbursts in three different sizes in black, yellow, red and turquoise. When I ripped up the floor in my house I found the original floor was the same exact linoleum.

Post# 1037761 , Reply# 11   7/10/2019 at 16:28 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        
You can't go wrong with laminate....

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IF you can find a pattern you like. Here's a pic of an island I made recently using Wilsonart. There's turquoise in it which is washed out in the pic, and overall I like the end result, but my personal opinion is that the boomerang definition is better in the Formica brand laminate (what I've got in the kitchen). Trouble is the colors are limited these days. Gloss is also more period correct, but will show dust, fingerprints and other imperfections. The matte is VERY forgiving.

On higher end kitchens back in the day, the primary counter might be made of one material, while a dedicated 'baking center' might make use of something else. Say, tile on the primary for heat rejection, and linoleum in the baking center for rolling out dough.

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Post# 1037778 , Reply# 12   7/10/2019 at 19:17 by sarahperdue (Alabama)        
linoleum flooring

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The smaller lino samples in my photos are Forbo marmoleum and the larger sheets are Tarkett. Both companies have more colors than I ordered. I ordered both sets of samples Friday (late Thursday night), and they arrived Tuesday. Lightening fast. Forbo has many, many more colors and options.

I'm still waiting on the samples I ordered from Wilsonart over a week ago.

I'm posting a link to an article I've been reading on flooring. I'm leaning towards linoleum for several reasons including the fact that it is made from natural materials.

I was surprised to learn that linoleum has a longer expected lifespan than vinyl, but it does require waxing.

Forbo produces custom inlaid linoleum, but I think it's in the "if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it" stratosphere. I'm posting a picture of the sample of inlaid linoleum on the Forbo website, and a link to the Forbo website. The website is a bit of a pain to navigate until you get the hang of it.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO sarahperdue's LINK

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Post# 1037786 , Reply# 13   7/10/2019 at 20:40 by jeb (Mansfield Ohiio)        
lino counters

When I was a boy we moved to a farmhouse that my parents were going to renovate. The counters were a light color linoleum. around the faucet and anywhere there was a small hole or knife slit it discolored to a dark gray. My mother had to keep it waxed but once the discoloring started there was no way to fix it. It did not take well to hot pans either.

Post# 1037788 , Reply# 14   7/10/2019 at 20:50 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I love Linoleum

And plan on using it in my kitchen, the main reason is its QUIET and easy on your china.

Post# 1037795 , Reply# 15   7/10/2019 at 21:39 by 48bencix (Sacramento CA)        
Non alkaline

I would advise to use a non alkaline cleaner on all linoleum products. No ammonia based cleaners.

I love the retro Formica laminate patterns.

Post# 1037796 , Reply# 16   7/10/2019 at 21:42 by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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I had a linoleum floor in the kitchen of my last home in Atlanta.  I had it installed during a kitchen renovation and I loved it.  I chose a sheet product by Forbo.  It came in approximately a 6-foot-width and we arranged it so I only had one seam; which was heat-welded and just disappeared.  I wanted to use a tile version and do something more creative, but I was afraid that with feeding and watering the dogs in the kitchen that could lead to problems with the seams, so I went with the sheet version and a monolithic look.  I really liked the floor.  It needed to be mopped/washed with a pH neutral product, but I never waxed it.



Post# 1038702 , Reply# 17   7/19/2019 at 10:21 by mixrman (Eutaw, Alabama)        

We chose Formica in the turquoise boomerang pattern (color now discontinued- drat!) for our kitchen. We have been very happy with its durability, easy maintenance, and continued good looks. Where we did not have the original countertops, the installer found old-fashioned stainless trim to complete the look we wanted. I agree with the person who said the Formica pattern looks better than the 'other brand.' If you choose laminate- I think the cracked ice pattern would be best - I think in gray to complement the stainless steel. As you might recall- our Youngstown kitchen cabinets took many years to accumulate and their manufacture spanned several decades. Some came with the original countertops which appeared to be some sort of linoleum product- most black- but there was also a red, white, and blue sort of flowing pattern. Most of it had held up pretty well- however- like the little girl with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead - where it did not - it was horrid. We elected not to keep the original countertops because even the best had lots of dimples from years of use (or perhaps being hit with a meat tenderizer). Some was discolored in spots, and some had the look of alligatored shellac... That said- the best of it had an almost soft feel to the surface and an interesting sound deadening quality that seemed to reduce the din and clatter of kitchen tasks. Taking into consideration that the condition issues could have taken decades to develop- it really held up pretty well. With your built-in corning protectors for work areas, and a sink with drainboards- linoleum would be an interesting choice - something few other people have- and that to me, anyway- is a plus!

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