Do Laminate Countertops Stain?

Laminate countertops, also known under the brand names Formica® and Wilsonart®, are popular all over the world – but do laminate countertops stain easily or is this a common myth?

Laminate countertops definitely stain, although they are fairly stain resistant. The likelihood of a laminate countertop staining depends on the quality of the sealant used, what is spilt onto it and also how well it is maintained on a daily basis.

In the rest of this article, we will explore some of the most common reasons for stains on laminate countertops and how you can prevent them from happening in the first place.

Let’s jump straight into it.

How Easily Do Laminate Countertops Stain?

Compared to other more premium countertop materials like granite or quartz, laminate is relatively easy to stain.

If you leave colored liquids on laminate for extended periods of time or other liquids such as food sauces, it is likely that the surface may become stained. Most stains on laminate are not permanent though and can be easily removed which we will get into later in this article.

Why Does Laminate Stain?

To understand why laminate stains it is important to understand the structure of the material.

Laminate is made from layers of brown kraft paper which are laminated with plastic. These layers are topped with a decorative print layer and a resin layer for protection.

If the protective layer becomes damaged – which can happen very easily on countertops – or simply worn out, the paper layers below are susceptible to staining by absorbing liquids. This is unlike other materials such as quartz which don’t absorb liquids at all (however these can face other issues such as chipping).

Most Common Reasons For Laminate Countertop Stains

Let’s take a look at some of the most common things that can cause stains on laminate countertops.

Colored Drink Spills

Drinks with strong colors such as soft drinks or some alcoholic beverages like wine can leave stains on the laminate if left to sit for extended periods of time.

Remember that the longer the liquid sits on the surface the higher the chance that it will soak into the paper layers and become more difficult to remove.

Burn Marks

Laminate can handle a surprising amount of heat, but it will become damaged if exposed to heat for an extended duration.

This results in more of a permanent ‘mark’ than a stain, but the impact is still the same. These marks are usually black, with noticeable damage to the protective resin layer.

Soap Residue Spots

Dish soap is effective at cleaning laminate countertops, but if you use too much soap and don’t rinse it off properly it can leave spots on the surface as the residue sets.

Repeated use of soap can also form a small layer on top of the laminate that makes it appear dull, so it is important to rinse the soap properly if you decide to use it.

Water Stains

Just like those annoying white spots on hardwood floors, water can also leave white stains on laminate countertops as well.

This happens most often when excessive amounts of water are left on the surface to evaporate and soak into the layers below.

How To Remove Stains On Laminate Countertops: 3 Simple Methods

As we mentioned previously, most laminate countertop stains are not permanent and can be removed with ease.

Others, such as burn marks or serious damage to the protective layer, will require replacement to set right. Luckily this is rare, and most of the time the methods below will be more than enough to get rid of the toughest of stains.

1. Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is highly effective at removing tough stains and deodorizing at the same time.

To use baking soda on your countertop, simply mix it with water in equal amounts to create a paste. Spread the paste over the stain and leave it to work for 5 to 10 minutes, and then wipe it away using a microfibre cloth or non-abrasive scrubber, making sure no residue is left behind.

2. Soap And Water

Soap and water is probably the most common combination used around the house, and it’s no surprise that they can be used for laminate countertops as well.

Simply mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water as needed and apply the solution using a dish cloth. If the stain is particularly stubborn you may need to use a non-abrasive scrubber.

Remember to rinse the area afterwards to prevent soap residue marks.

3. Bleach

Quite a few countertop manufacturers recommend using undiluted bleach to clean stains on laminate, but you should read the advice from your specific manufacturer before you attempt to use it.

In general, you should avoid mixing bleach with other cleaners and dilute it with water – 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water is recommended. Apply the bleach while wearing the necessary safety equipment, and scrub the stain with a non-abrasive scrubber.

Once the stain has lifted wipe away the bleach and rinse the area with a clean cloth and water.

How To Prevent Stains On Laminate Countertops

Maintain The Resin Coating

If the resin coating becomes damaged then your countertop will become susceptible to staining much more easily.

Keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear, including things like scratches, and get your countertop repaired if you notice excess damage to it.

Clean Regularly

If you keep your countertop as clean as possible this reduces the likelihood of stains forming dramatically.

You shouldn’t let any spills sit on the surface for more than a few minutes at most, and always clean up properly after cooking or preparing food.

Final Thoughts

Although there are a lot of things that can stain laminate countertops, there are also a lot of methods you can use to quickly remove the stains or avoid them in the first place.

The easiest way to avoid staining your laminate countertop is to ensure that the protective resin layer isn’t damaged and that any spills are cleaned up as soon as possible. If you employ these tactics you won’t have to worry about stains again.