You’ve heard the word laminate before, and chances are you’ve seen it in someone’s house. Most likely it was about the type of floor a person has, or maybe a countertop. But did you know that it has other uses as well? It can be used in cabinets, desks, and shelving.
So what exactly is laminate and why would you choose it over wood? We’ll address these questions and several others as we take a closer look at it and its many uses.
What is Laminate?
First developed in the 1970s in Europe, then finally hitting the U.S. marketplace in 1980, it was a new type of flooring that spread in popularity throughout many countries. Today, it stands in stark contrast to its counterparts of the 1980s. It was nowhere near the quality we have available today, but through significant developments and improvements, laminate stood the test of time.
In that time, the most significant changes focus mainly on its composition. Typically, its construction is three layers: the base layer, the middle layer, and the topmost layer (pictured below). Each layer plays a role in the quality and durability, but the surface layer is where you find the biggest differences.
The base layer is an impermeable layer that provides a moisture barrier, along with the structural stability it needs. The middle layer is thicker than the base layer, and it typically consists of a wooden composite. Lastly, your topmost sheet, or your surface layer, is the one that you and your guests will see. This layer is what makes your floor aesthetically attractive and visually appealing.
Why Choose Laminate?
Everyone dreams of having a gorgeous hardwood floor in their kitchen or bathroom, but suffer from sticker shock when they do the math. Or, a hardwood desk for their office.
Laminated wood mimics the grain, texture, and color of authentic wood. Nowadays it is nearly impossible to tell the difference just by looking at the two side by side. So, goodbye sticker-shock, and hello beautiful, solid, long-lasting quality.
But laminate is by no means restricted to looking like expensive hardwoods. You can order it with nearly any surface. You can have it look like tile, marble, or slate. Or if you want to stick with wood, you can make it look distressed, hand-scraped, and covered with knots.
With laminate flooring you don’t have to worry about wet and dripping towels, high-heel divots, excessive traffic, or dropped objects. You’ll also find that it can withstand stains like nail polish, makeup, and paints. Laminate also gives you the benefit of not harboring allergens, mildew, or mold.
If you think you can handle it, you can give installing laminate wood flooring a try. Where wood flooring is nearly impossible to install without the aid of a professional, many handymen and women have successfully installed the tongue-and-groove style flooring without needing nails or a glue gun. However, if you’re not up to it, you can always call in a professional to take care of the installation for you.
Lastly, most people choose laminate for the cost. As mentioned, you can save a lot of money by taking the time to learn to install laminated wood yourself. Wood, tile, or slate floors are almost assuredly going to require a professional. Additionally, the cost per square foot is cheaper than you’re likely to find for other, authentic, materials.
Types of Laminate
It’s important to understand the different types of laminates and their application before making an educated decision. There is no shortage of options, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t know anything about it.
Laminate comes in different thicknesses, is made for specific uses, and the pressure applied during production classifies it. You can also get it in an abundance of different finishes and other properties.
Most laminate sheets come in thicknesses anywhere from 8mm to 1.5mm. Sheets are glued to other backing materials like plywood using adhesive. Compact sheets are available and range from 3mm to 30mm. The top and bottom sides of compact sheets are decorative, and they can support themselves, so there is no need for backing.
High-pressure laminate can handle immense amounts of pressure. In production, the decor paper is attached to the kraft paper at high pressure and then fixed to plywood or MDF. Low-pressure laminate paper is doused with melamine resin and then glued directly to particle board or MDF at very low pressure.
Decorative finishes are available for more residential and conventional usage. They look beautiful, and they provide an extra layer of protection to wood furniture. They come in various designs, colors, and textures. You can use decorative laminate in most areas of your home.
Industrial laminate, on the other hand, is stronger and lasts longer in harsher environments. It resists abuse, can handle more wear and tear, and hides scratches well. Fire-resistant, chemical resistant, or antibacterial properties are available. It is used a lot in hospitals and high traffic office areas.
Solid color laminates are the most common finish. It’s easy to mass produce large sheets of one color, making them cheaper and common for countertops. Gloss finishes catch the eye and are commonly used on hotel furniture and in restaurants.
Business offices tend to shy away from something too glossy and instead, lean toward matte finish; because it looks more professional. It can also be stylish but has a more subtle feel, making it suitable for offices and large corporate buildings.
Textured laminate is more pricey, but comes in a wider variety of options. The texture is printed directly on the decor paper and can look like stones, leather, wood, or metal. It is typical for wall cladding and flooring.
Specially manufactured laminate for hospitals, airports, kitchens, and other fire-prone areas is heat resistant. Where hygiene is essential, an antibacterial laminate is available. It resists the growth of bacteria and pathogens.
UV laminate makes for outdoor applications like billboards, backyard kitchens, and any other weather-sensitive areas. Electrostatic dissipative laminate is used to manufacture circuit boards and other dust-free work areas like medical offices and labs.
Where to Buy Laminate
As you can see, laminate has a variety of uses and can suit all of your needs. From laminate countertops to cabinets, it is far superior to many other materials because it’s durable, beautiful, and care is easy.
If you are looking for great laminate or wood for your office, retail outlets such as Furniture Factory, LLC can design and build custom cabinetry and furniture. They can also fit any office space or budget. Skilled craftsmen are dedicated to manufacturing the highest quality products according to your specifications. Or you can find pre-made furniture or flooring for a do-it-yourself office upgrade.