counter top edges

In this morning’s story showing a complete 1953 catalog of GE Textolite laminate, we noted this graphic showing the variety of ways that a homemaker could edge her kitchen counter tops in 1953. It’s nice to have this “authentic” historical record. I count 10 ways to edge a laminate counter top — and point you to stories we have done about where you can find the materials today to recreate these looks:


Edges for round or square edges:

  1. Round corner — edged with the same laminate you use for the counter top. Can be tricky to get metal edging to bend, though.
  2. Tee nosing of flat extruded aluminum — To edge a rounded corner with metal trim, you must use a tee-molding.  Eagle Aluminum is generally my go-to place for aluminum tee-moldings, because they are an advertiser here and because they specialize in metal trims. Other sources could include (also an advertiser), New York Metals, Outwater Plastics, Bars & Booths.
  3. Tee nosing fluted and colored aluminum — Eagle Aluminum has some fluted designs, as do the other suppliers noted above. Note: I know of NO vendors of kitchen counter top-sized edging into which you can slide colored strips of vinyl, or what have you. Bars & Booths has one, but it’s quite wide/high — 3″ high. That’s okay for a diner style table, but way too tall for a kitchen counter top.
  4. Postforming outside bend — Postforming simply means “curved with heat” — the counter top maker needs to do this for you.

Edges for square corners only:

  1. Square corner — I think that all they are referring to here is using the laminate itself as an edge.
  2. Textolite edge — I don’t understand the difference here vs. above. But from the illustration, it appear Textolite must have had a special crisp edge as part of the laminate manufacture, which itself could be considered a design option. This is kind of ironic — because today, laminate manufacturers are going all out to try and minimize any seams at all and to replicate the look of marble and granite and the like with their postformed edges.
  3. Wood edge flush — I don’t have a specific source. I *think* this type of wood edging is pretty common.
  4. Stainless steel edge — New York Metal is the only place I know of with stainless steel edging. I used this in my kitchen, and continue to adore it. Here’s my story on the pieces I used.
  5. Aluminum edge — Eagle Aluminum is my go-to place, because they are an advertiser here and because they specialize in metal trims. Other sources could include (also an advertiser), New York Metals, Outwater Plastics, Bars & Booths.
  6. Aluminum plain or decorated — I do not know of any suppliers with an aluminum edge with a profile this pronounced.

Thanks to the Building Technology Heritage Library and for making this catalog available via creative commons license.

More tips on counter tops and edging:

  1. Amelia says:

    Has anyone ever used a metal look laminate on counter top edges? Formica makes a line, so does WilsonArt. I’ve gotten varying responses from both the countertop manufacturer (who recommend the Formica line DecoMetal) and a rep at Formica who said that it would scratch, I couldn’t use Windex on it… etc. Formica’s specs for DecoMetal say that I can clean it with a “mild glass cleaner” and it’s recommended for dry vertical installations. Thoughts?? Since I’m having the countertop made, this seems like an interesting option.

  2. Frances says:

    HA! I found this looking for edges for our basement bar, and our kitchen counters definitely have the Textolite edges, which are blackish in color and at a 45-degree angle that blunts the corners ever-so-slightly.

  3. Kelly Wittenauer says:

    You mention a lack of suppliers for counter top sized aluminum moldings into which an accent strip of colored vinyl, wood, etc. could slide. Anyone desiring this look should google “boat rub rail parts”. These moldings are commonly used around boats where the hull & deck meet. They aren’t the tee-moldings shown here, though. They would be screwed in to the edge of the counter, and the insert hides the screws.

    1. Beth Hartford says:

      I have original aluminum molding in my kitchen that is screwed into the edge of the counter. I have been looking EVERYWHERE for the vinyl to replace the (1952) original vinyl. Mine is yellow, but it doesn’t have to be. The vinyl is about an inch wide, with lines in it, and it slides into the molding. If anyone could tell me where to find this, I would be forever grateful!!
      Thank you,
      Beth Hartford

      1. pam kueber says:

        I don’t know where to get this… Perhaps you can purchase some vinyl of the proper thickness and cut your own strips?

  4. Lori D says:

    Interesting. I am planning on painting our cherry stained wood cabinets to better go with our retro house. We have laminate countertops that I don’t mind and they have a wood edge, like shown above. I will have to paint the wood edge once I paint the cabinets but its nice to know that the wood edge on laminate was done back in the day. Our kitchen was renovated 10 yrs. ago by previous owners and is way too traditional for our house. Looking forward to making it look more appropriate.

  5. We used the aluminum tee edging on our counters and it looks great. The only thing I’d caution about it is, it seems to be softer than stainless edging, and someone in my house (who has never admitted to it) made a sharp dent in ours in front of our cooktop, I’m guessing with a dropped utensil. But I love the way it looks original!

    1. Liz says:

      I saw your post from another day with pictures of your kitchen remodel, which looks great. I was wondering about your backsplash. How thick is it, and what type of top edging did you use for it? I like the look of it.
      Also, with your T-edging, how did you make sure you have enough of a seal between the laminate and the edging. I like that T-edging, but was concerned that it doesn’t have enough of a lip on it.
      Anything you can offer will be appreciated.

  6. Rebecca B says:

    These are great – love real documentation! We are about to close on a darling 1951 modest home with well-done updates (roof! siding! furnace! windows!). The home-owner was apologetic when I sighed when I stepped into the kitchen “Oh, yeah, the kitchen needs some updating” “Oh, no, I was sighing because it HASN’T been updated!”

    I’ve got a question, though…the space around the stove is considerably wider than the stove (and I know the spot is original because of the cool exhaust fan in the ceiling above), and I wondered why. But now I’ve seen a couple of pictures with a stainless steel (I think) fold down counter continuation that fills that space. Probably good for setting hot pans on. I can’t find any reference to it on your site, but there are some pictures. Sooo, any idea what it was called, why it was done, and where I can get one? Thanks for helping us all be proud of our Modest homes!

    1. Robin, NV says:

      Any chance the house originally had a wider range? I think most modern ranges are 30 inches wide but the ones from the 50s could be more like 40. I think, Pam would know that answer.

      Congrats on your “new” home!! Have fun with it.

      1. pam kueber says:

        yes, if you don’t want a vintage range, try the Sears model that is 40″. Measure your space first.

    2. Sherree says:

      Stoves (or “ranges”) in the early 50’s were generally 39 or 40 inches. My 1951 ranch also has the same sized space in the kitchen. I know it is original because of the cabinet arrangement above and the placement of the exhaust fan in the ceiling.
      I wonder if the fold down counter top item is a later addition to make up for the difference in the newer stove sizes.
      Good luck with your new home!

      1. Rebecca B says:

        I started wondering the same thing. I’ve seen a few in real life, and a few photos…all near 30″ stoves and all about 10″ themselves. Now I 1) need to look at old magazines to see if I see the shelves/counter extensions advertised and 2) am going to obsess over new 40″ stoves – the purchase of which will take my house out of “bargain of the year” contention! My, but I love retrorenovation!

Comments are closed.