Top Finish

Laminates are affordable and durable, and although not totally impervious to wear and tear, they are quite easy to maintain.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Laminates are affordable and durable, and although not totally impervious to wear and tear, they are quite easy to maintain.

<b>Photography</b> WONG WEI LIANG <b>design</b> BOX.ID STUDIO.
<b>Photography</b> WONG WEI LIANG <b>design</b> BOX.ID STUDIO.

Laminates have become more popular than ever, be it for countertops or cabinetry. And for good reason – they come in many natural-looking designs that resemble wood, stone and concrete, as well as interesting patterns, textures and colours. Furthermore, laminates have a relatively low price range. However, like every hardworking surface in the home, they require routine cleaning and care. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep them looking lovely.


• Use a soft damp cloth for daily cleaning. Adding diluted mild detergent or vinegar can also remove most stains and grease. Be sure to completely rinse off any soap residue with warm water to prevent permanent residue stains, and dry thoroughly after.

• Treat difficult stains (such as coffee or tea marks) with baking soda paste (3:1 ratio of baking soda and water). Spread on the stain, very lightly scrub for 10 to 20 strokes, and let sit for three to five minutes before wiping away. Although baking soda is low-abrasive, excessive scrubbing can damage the surface, especially if it has a glossy finish.

• Wipe up spills immediately. The longer it sits, the more likely it is to stain.


• Place hot cookware or dishes directly on the laminate countertop. Extreme heat can cause cracking or blistering. Always use a trivet or insulated hot pad to protect your countertop.

• Use your countertop as a chopping board. Knife cuts can go through the colour layer and expose the underlay, which cannot be repaired.

• Use cleaners containing alkali, acid or sodium hypochlorite, which can etch, corrode and discolour the laminate surface. These include oven cleaners, chlorine bleach, rust removers, drain cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, and lime scale removers. 


For stubborn stains, such as ink, use a nail polish remover. Gently rub a cotton ball or clean cloth soaked with nail polish remover on the stain for up to two minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and wipe dry.


For small, shallow scratches, apply furniture paste wax to hide the marks. First, clean the surface thoroughly, then use a soft cloth to spread the wax lightly across the rest of the countertop, including the sections unaffected by scratches (to keep a consistent appearance on the surface). Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then buff the entire surface using another clean cloth.

For deeper scratches, it may be best to use laminate filler. Check with your laminate supplier if there is a specially made one, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.