No need to snub plastic laminate as wood’s inferior cousin. Today’s options are stylish and durable — not to mention money saving
While plastic laminate cabinets might seem like a relic of another era, they actually are a practical, affordable, and — dare we say it? — stylish alternative to conventional wood cabinetry. “The general public doesn’t have an understanding about the durability, flexibility and options that laminate offers,” says Julie Cavanaugh, the owner of Design Matters, an interior design firm in Los Gatos, California.
Cavanaugh estimates that only about 15 percent of her clients request laminate cabinet faces, and a good chunk of those are for rooms other than kitchens. But the material doesn’t deserve to be neglected, she believes. It’s usually a cost-effective option and more environmentally stable and easier to care for than wood.
Wood-patterned laminate can emulate exotic materials and graining without the limitations and scarcity of the real thing. “You can make beautiful lengths of book-matched cabinetry, because the cabinetmaker is in control of the patterning and the repeat,” Cavanaugh says. The price is another incentive: Cavanaugh estimates that laminate cabinets can save homeowners an average of 15 to 30 percent over wood versions.