9 places to find retro laminate for kitchen or bathroom countertops + my research tips

boomerang laminate at a moment in time
If you are looking for retro-style laminate for a kitchen or bathroom counter top, you have some blinding research ahead of you. Unless there is a home-run-out-of-the-park solution — like the boomerangs, crackle ice or dogbone still available — it’s going to be a hunt-peck-and-forage to find something that’s “close enough” to original laminates from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Here to help is a list of all the places I know — eight nine places — to look for laminate for your retro kitchen, along with some tips for your hunt–>

Where to find retro style laminate for kitchen and bathroom countertops:

  • Abet Laminati – 195 solid colors… 136 woodgrains… 149 patterns… 33 metals… Easy-to-use website. If you need a solid color and can’t find it here — or at Arpa, below — it probably doesn’t exist.
  • Arpa – Eye-boggling to search, bu, their line real colors, Colorsintensi, is a pretty fabulous range and it may well be worth the trouble to pursue this brand for that reason.
  • Wilsonart — This is a difficult website to navigate, tip: Make a Shopping Cart or bookmark samples you like right away. Wilsonart says you can order Designer lines — like the 3 pastel-colored boomerang designs in their impossible to find online Indie Collection — through a countertop fabricator.
  • Pionite — Be sure to check out their linen-look laminates in Abstracts; colors are greyed out – more suitable for 60s and 70s than 50s, but overall, I quite like them.
  • Formica — Boomerang in charcoal (the only color still available from Formica) is in Homeowners. But, Dogbones, Wefts and Warps are in To The Trade. Tip: Formica lets you see All Swatches once you get yourself on the correct page — look for this feature, it’s easier.
  • Arborite — They have some patterns I like, including a blueberry that looks like linoleum and some almost-linens. Easy-to-use website.
  • Nevamar — Their abstracts are definitely worth checking out; I am going to call for some samples. Easy-to-use website.
  • A Moment in Time — Specialist provider of retro-vintage styles. This is a new company on my radar, and as of Sept. 2011, their prices for 10 shades of boomerang laminate and crackle ice laminate are better than Bars & Booths’ prices. Best price for these specialty designs is at A Moment in Time, which charges $325.50 for a 4′x10′ sheet (vs. $328.79 at Vitro and $425 at Bars & Booths). Shipping is going to be extra. Disclosure: A Moment in Time looks like it’s coming on as an advertiser, but this mention is not part of the deal. If I hear of a better price, I’ll update this story.
  • Lab Designs — Added to our list in 2013, they have some retro-modern styles worth considering.

Tips:

  • No substitute for seeing an actual sample – Of course, there is no substitute for seeing actual samples in the flesh. If you can order the samples in an 8″x10″ size, all the better. Smack it down in your kitchen or bathroom — and look at it in all lights during different times of the day. This is a prime opportunity to torture your spouse in the decision-making process.
  • Do not become enraged by prices for the specialty laminates – Laminate must be stored flat, in a climate- and humidity-controlled environment. Specialty providers often also must invest more to hold inventory, and they do not benefit from the economies of scale possible in mass market production.
  • Searching is going to take time and will blind you – Some of these websites are better organized than others. Be patient and be sure that, once you find a product page, you look at all the links to ensure you have not missed any sections.
  • Look in the Commercial section of the websites, too — Look in both the “Residential / Homeowner” sections and the “Contract / To the Trade / Professional” sections. So many of the popular consumer patterns today look like granite. More abstract designs may be over in the Commercial section. Generally, as a consumer you can get product from either section. You *may* have to go to a real countertop fabricator to get Commercial selections — BUT, with the internet now, you likely can also find an online source at a good price. (Just check everyone out.)
  • Good-Better-Best — Manufacturers have good-better-best grades for a variety of requirements.  For example, see this Pionite page showing the different grades possible. Check out the options, and make your decision accordingly. On stuff that requires professional installation, all the more so, because that means replacing the product has two costs.
  • Buy a matte finish — Keep in mind that shiny finishes show scratches. I have glossy in the two bathrooms, and they are doing just fine. But I would never put glossy in a kitchen. Watch the specifications — if it says “for vertical surfaces only” it means not for countertops, duh.
  • Share your experiences — Readers, do you have any more tips of your own, or questions?

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Comments

  1. Clay says

    I just bought a 60″x144″ sheet of Formica brand charcoal boomerang laminate at Lowes for around $150. It was special order, but arrived in about two weeks.

    • Kelly says

      I was just at Lowe’s today and checked on ordering Formica Classics Aqua Boomerang laminate for my bathroom, and sadly, they couldn’t find it in the computer. They said must not be making it anymore.:( Anyone have a different experience?

      • pam kueber says

        Discontinued earlier this year. I did several stories on this, forewarning everyone so they could order while the gettin’ was still good — See Kitchen/Countertops.

      • Kat says

        Kelly, try calling countertop finishers. I had Aqua Boomerang installed in my kitchen at the end of August through The Top Shop in Denver. (They said they’d only used it twice before — for a diner and a nursing home. Ha!) They even got aluminum trim for the edges. It’s so cool — definitely worth the search!

  2. Jason says

    If I redo my kitchen and want to go more retro, I think I will be very tempted to boomerang it! I love the aqua that is discontinued, but I may go with the charcoal and it will be a modern version of retro, which would be fine. The other colors available on the other sites seem to be a less appealing design and I’m not paying extra for someone who has warehoused it, but I understand and value the service they have provided.

    I have to say again, I got a Wilsonart HD(top of the line for them) laminate countertop done 2 years ago almost for under 800 bucks for an entire kitchen. That was custom built and installed by a local cabinet shop, mine is a version that looks like a stone/granite type surface, it’s Deepstar Flint I believe. Their site only shows a computer image, if you google for a picture you can see it’s a really beautiful and durable product.

    My point being, I find this to be such a value in appearance, durability and price, I am not interested in granite, etc.. You could change your countertop every 5 years and still spend less than granite. Also, you can just have a tiled backsplash or what have you to up the look which I may add later as they are perfectly happy to install your backsplash piece in such a way that it can be removed easily later. Also, people love it when they see it!

      • Jason says

        I’ll try to round some up, but I just have builder grade oak cabinets that someone put in in 1997. They were the only thing I saved when I had to tear out the kitchen, because they were in ok shape and I couldn’t afford anything better so I took them out and re-installed them later. My plan is to paint them white or at least put hardware on them. So, the countertop is not in it’s ideal environment :)

  3. Tina says

    “This is a prime opportunity to torture your spouse in the decision-making process.”

    Priceless! Thanks, Pam. This is a great resource.

    • Jason says

      It is – Pam – send it to Anne! She has to have a picture of a salesman talking to a wife while her husband looks on confused….

  4. db says

    I bought the Nevamar VAVA directly from a distributor. They rolled a 4′x12′ sheet to fit in my trunk and I drove away for $100. Love it, but it’s more grey than the blue shown.

    • Margaret in Maine says

      So glad someone else found the Vava – I really like it, I think it looks like fabric. Even though it’s not a true linen, I still think it feels dead on! It was definitely high on my list.

      Margaret

  5. Lauryn says

    Samples, samples, samples … so important! Believe me, I did torture my dear husband with the decision making process, but we are so happy we got all the samples we did. The modern versions of cracked ice really don’t look like the original (particularly the grey) and I think we would have been really disappointed if we had just ordered it based on the website photos. We went with a Nevamar linen-y kind of thing (Serene Stardom), had a local woodworker make the countertops (with the metal banding) and while it is grey, it looks gorgeous with our yellow cabinets.

  6. Guy H. says

    Another important page to bookmark!
    Its amazing how iconic most of these laminates are! They bring back memories just by glancing at them

  7. JKaye says

    As we look at houses (while waiting for someone to buy ours) we are coming across some original counters, much to our surprise. Figured they had all been replaced by now! Posts like this one encouraging people in this direction could help save some of those old countertops from destruction, I hope, or encourage people to consider something that simply is more “right” for these older homes.

  8. Kate H says

    I read somewhere (maybe one of Jane Powell’s books?) that linoleum can be appropriate for countertops. Does anyone have experience with this? I have seen it as a backsplash in older homes, but I wonder if it would hold up as a countertop. They have COOL lino at the Marmoleum site.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Julie P., as far as I know, linoleum is not specified for countertop use, although folks have done it. I recommend you talk to the manufacturer to find out what steps they recommend if you would like to pursue this route.

      • Margaret in Maine says

        Linoleum was used for countertops, back in the day – not sure if the current stuff can handle that application. I ‘ve noticed linoleum counters were more common in late 40s and early 50s books/magazines and got replaced by laminate by the late 50s. I have friends who still have a mid-century linoleum countertop and are repairing it. I also saw a house in Atomic Ranch where a fellow had done it as a new install.

        I have a vintage kitchen makeover guide – Popular Mechanics, ca. 1950s, I think – that tells how to put linoleum on a countertop – using a rolling pin. I could scan it if anyone wants it. The edges get finished with metal trim – linoleum can’t be self edged the way laminate is.

        • pam kueber says

          Thanks, Margaret – I am told that linoleum today is not specified / warranted for countertop use. But, yes, folks have done it. If you can list the date and issue of the Popular Mechanics, I can probably link to it here, as I think these are all online now. Many thanks!

        • Lauryn says

          We were seriously considering linoleum for our countertops, but word on the street is that you need to immediately wipe up anything acidic (coffee, lemon juice, tomatoes … pretty much staples in our kitchen) and while I like to think I’m pretty good about that, I do share my house with a husband. Another concern was using them where there is a lot of water, making them a a better choice on a countertop that does NOT have a sink. All that said, I love that someone is repairing vintage linoleum countertops … would love to see those!

  9. Josh T says

    I have had Abet Lime green for about a year and love it!!! they make a very good product but most places do not stock. Very good against scratches!!!

  10. Ann-Marie Meyers says

    I will be visiting a man in a few weeks who was a one of the original designers for Consoweld.
    He has a lot of what my parents call “scraps” in his basement, from which he makes beautiful mosaic pictures, although that is not really the name for them. He is the inventor of the method for getting the satin finish on laminate, among other remarkable innovations, including a laminate that looks like bamboo.

    Pam, you might like to talk to him sometime. He is a very nice man, but is getting old.

    Anyway, I asked, through my parents if he might have anything large enough for my bathroom, and he said to stop by next time I was home to take a look.

    Mom said he might have something big enough for my kitchen, but she wasn’t sure.
    Wish me luck!

    • pam kueber says

      Thanks, Colin, your note has led to this update from the folks at A Moment in Time, who have contacted me to let me know they are now going to sell these speciality laminates for: $325.50 per 4′x10′ sheet — that is a bit less than Vitro’s current, 2011 pricing, which is understandably higher than what you paid several years ago. A Moment in Time says:

      “We will always try to be the best price out there, and beat our competitors…. We want the customer to come to our company for all of their Retro needs. We don’t want the customer to have to bounce around looking for the best price. We want them to know they will have the best with our company.”

  11. Julie P. says

    We recently did a Wilson Art HD in one of the white shades and we added the stainless steel edging from NY Metals. It looks great! When we have people over they ask if it is the original countertops. We chose the Wilson Art HD because when I ordered the sample I thought is would resemble the cracked ice. It isn’t perfect but it certainly looks like 1955 so we are happy. Two countertops, one was around 120 inches and the other 61 inches, in the Wilson Art HD with the SS edging from NY Metals (including the hefty shipping) and installation of both was just under $1000. I am happy to share pictures if anyone wants to see them.

  12. Kat says

    I had Formica’s Aqua Boomerang installed just a few weeks ago, so there is still some out there! My countertop guy was able to get it straight from Formica for around $72 a sheet (as opposed to the $385 or so that Bar and Booth quoted me). I have to say, I love, love, LOVE this kitchen now. (It had been a dark, dreary 1978 nightmare.) We did a bar-height wall cap on one side of our U-shaped kitchen and an extended counter on the other side with two seats for a breakfast area. It’s all trimmed in brushed aluminum and looks so cheery! (PS: Does anyone have an idea for a fun backsplash that will complement the pattern?)

    • says

      OMG!!! I have been looking for the aqua boomerang laminate. I wonder if your countertop person can order some for me? I would be so happy to pay him of course. I live in Kansas City. I contacted a local company and asked them to contact Formica directly, but they did not do so… dropped the ball. Any help, I would really appreciate. We bought an old Spartan and a Shasta and plan to decorate both with pink appliances and turquoise accents. 913-636-2297. THANK YOU!

  13. Victoria says

    Our house’s original laminate was a white, pink and gold starburst, but it was worn out. We kept the original pink stovetop, oven and sink, as well as original hood and flying saucer light fixtures and Philippine mahogany cabinetry with the diamond shaped backplates on the handles. We wanted a period formica, but not a “diner” feel because the counter is open to the living room and needed to work in both spaces.
    We went a slightly different direction and used the 1957 Vir Varr Light Blue which is a cross hatched all over design. The overall impression of the counter is a medium grey which perfectly matches the greys in our living room and kitchen, and looks like it was put there when the house was new. The installers were surprised when we told them they were taking out the pink cooktop and pink sink with the metal edging — and putting them BACK when they were done instead of putting in new ones.

    • Zoe says

      Victoria,

      Where did you get the 1957 Vir Var? It sounds like exactly what I am looking for to replace my damaged 1940s white laminate countertop.

      • pam kueber says

        Zoe, Formica’s VirrVarr has been discontinued for a while… You need to go through all my Kitchen/Countertop stories to get the latest updates that I have –

        • Victoria says

          I was just at the home store yesterday and they still have the VirVarr in the sample collection, but Pam is right. I hope they bring it back. I’m now starting the process of getting our bathroom in shape and a lot of the same things apply — badly updated floor, worn out formica vanity, bad shower surround. White VirVarr would go great in on the vanity.

  14. Ann S. says

    Yes I just bought some 4′x10′ sheets of boomerang laminate from Vitro Seating. They said they are the original supplier of the laminate and that Wilsonart makes this just for them. They will sell laminate and upholstery to end users like us! I just paid 328.79 + tax and shipping which is better than the other prices I found out there.

  15. jmb says

    In January, I did my kitchen in Formica Skylark Boomerang. I needed a 5′ x 13′ sheet so I would not have any seams. I spoke to most of the Austin counter/laminate companies said they couldn’t get it for me, as the color was being discontinued.

    I was able to get it special ordered from Formica by Laminate World in Houston Texas. There were delays, production issues set back my ship date, but it finally arrived three weeks or so after I ordered it.

    Shipping was over 100 bucks, but I think it was well worth it, and now I have lots leftover to finish the rest of my kitchen.

  16. Ruth Ann Kuntz says

    I just checked with lowes yesterday on the Wilsonart Indie collection retro pop. It can be ordered in 5′ x 12′ sheets. Very pricy, about $900. The production time is 20 weeks. Yes figure half a year. This is only available to cabinet makers with the Wilsonart account. His guy at Wilsonart said that at the end of October they are discontinuing the Indie line. In the spring the new lines will be out. After the $900 price I decided the Formica charcoal laminate will look great for $104 at Lowes. My husband and I are trying to create a 50′s kitchen for about $1500. We are refinishing our craigs list cabinets in pink so the charcoal will look great. I know that the cabinets are to be refinished by a professional. Just my luck. My husband does autobody repair for a living, and I help.

    • pam kueber says

      Again — if you really want pastel boomerangs, try A Moment in Time – $325 for a 4′x10′ sheet (plus tax and shipping) — the image at the top of this story shows the 10 colors – including the 5 with pastel boomerangs. To be sure, though, if want a charcoal background, it’s going to be hard to beat the price for Formica charcoal boomerangs from a Big Box store.

      • Ruth Ann Kuntz says

        Pam:
        The problem of the 4 x 10 sheet is that it leaves an ugly seam on the 13′ 5″ counter. The seam would be about two feet to the side of the sink. You could never line up the boomerang pattern at the seam so that it would be un noticed. To avoid bad seem choices I need to have a 5 x 12 sheet to at least have the seam almost by the wall. In the corner it would be out of the main sight line. Wilsonart does make the indie collection retro pop in a 4 x 8 or 5 x 12. The 4 x 8 from Lowes was quoted for $215. I was fine with that price and it had a 7 week turnaround time. I just can’t see designing a beautiful kitchen and have a crappy seam. I have spent six months designing it and buying 50′s period Lincoln Beautyware items. My husband and I have wanted to make a 50′s Kitchen since for sixteen years when we bought our house. I found a metal cabinet in the garage with the boomerang pattern on it. We both loved it. It took years for the patterns to come out and for us to find the right cabinets. I am thankful that the gray looks great with the color scheme.

  17. Catherine says

    You all may cringe at this, but I am getting ready to pull down Formica that is covering the kitchen of a home we just bought. It covers every surface, including the ceiling and had aluminum see work. Does anyone know of a person or place that would be interested in reclaiming the material if we can keep it in good shape? It is yellow and cream. Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      Re-Store Habitat for Humanity, Craiglist or our Forum http://retrorenovation.com/forums/ Please be reminded that if you are renovating an old house — test all the layers of the materials you are pulling out for vintage nasties like lead and asbestos — Consult with properly licensed professionals to know what you are working with so that you can make informed decisions about how to handle.

  18. RobL says

    When choosing laminates, please consider where it is made and the company that manufactures it. Laminate is a great environmental-friendly countertop choice especially if coming from a responsible company. Do your research on the manufacturer because most laminates listed here are not manufactured in the USA. All Wilsonart Laminates have minimum 25% post-consumer recycled content, are all made in the USA, and the company has a strong and ongoing sustainability mission. They are also the only laminate company that participates in the health product declaration that is ongoingly concerned about you as a consumer.

  19. Mary Haux says

    I’m desperately looking for a laminate or vinyl that mimics victorian bathroom tile. Just a simple white with some kind of black accent tile – squares, diamonds, hexagons – anything like that. There’s got to be a market out there for people who can’t afford vintage-style ceramic tile. Can anyone help?

    • pam kueber says

      See my category Kitchens/Flooring.

      That said, I don’t really focus much on Victorian style. I don’t recall seeing anything quite like this out there today — the mass market is being sold ginormous stone look vinyl flooring…

      Have you gone to Home Depot — you CAN get simple black and white ceramic tile — small mosaics — relatively inexpensively…

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