Laminate offers a variety of custom edge treatments
The variety of styles and the mix of materials that can be used to edge laminate countertops is what gives laminate a real advantage over other countertop materials. Edge treatments make laminate almost indistinguishable from natural and man-made stones. They also let you push the decorative envelope by using wood and solid surfacing-separately or in combination-to countertops and edges with stunning visual effects.
The Basic Edges
The most familiar laminate edge treatment is the “self edge” or “straight edge”. For this edge, the fabricator puts a strip of laminate on the front edge of the deck, then puts on the top surface. This edge treatment leaves a thin line of exposed core (we call it “the brown line”) which can be used cleverly as an accent. However, this is not the most interesting use of laminate.
Because laminate is pliable when heated, it can be easily wrapped around forms to created rounded shapes. This process is called post-forming and it's used to fabricate one-piece countertops incorporating an edge treatment and, sometimes, a backsplash. The most common post-formed edges are the waterfall and the bull nose. Most of us have lived, at one time or another, with a laminate countertop edged this way.
The waterfall, as the name implies, is rounded on the top the laminate “falls” over the top to the front edge. The laminate doesn't wrap around, so the overhang is unfinished on the bottom side. Bullnose edges are fully rounded edges in which the laminate wraps back under the countertop. A variation on the bullnose, called the “double wrap” or “double roundover” has a softened square effect. Post-formed counters are often shown with a four-inch cove backsplash, but can be ordered without the splash for a more contemporary look.
Two types of decorative edge treatments bring out laminate's true potential. These are standard beveled edges and full-front edge molding in which wood or solid surface creates a decorative contrast with the laminate countertop. Decorative edge treatments are created by your fabricator, who is not always associated with the store where you buy your laminate, so be sure too ask what types of “custom” edge options are available. With custom tops, you can choose where you want the seams to go and create a finished look on all edges.
Standard beveled edges are an easy way to give your laminate counter the look of stone. The transition from the front edge to the counter's top appears seamless. For a decorative variation on this theme, choose a contrasting laminate color for the beveled strip.
Full front edge molding provides an almost limitless range of options to express your decorative personality. Both wood and solid surface can be milled to create sculpted effects. The most commonly seen profile is called an ogee edge. This is a double curved form made up of a concave and convex half that looks like the letter S. Like standard bevels, it will appear seamless at inside corners and can be bent around a radius at outside corners. Stain the wood ogee to match your cabinets for an even neater decorative look. Wood can be stained to match your cabinets for a furniture effect. Solid surface edge banding is the right choice if you want to add a splash of bright or contrasting color or pattern. Some people combine these materials, by having the fabricator cut out a slot on the face of the wood band and then fill it with a solid surface or laminate strip.