Types of Laminates by Usage, Appearance & Properties

types of laminates

Different types of laminates, whether synthetic or wood-based decorative materials, hold a prominent position in multiple industries, including interior design and construction. One of the most prevalent applications is within the furniture industry. They are frequently employed as finishing layers for furniture products, enhancing both their aesthetic appeal and overall durability.

Since laminate is a type of artificial product, it can be made in many forms based on raw materials, the manufacturing process, properties, etc.

What are laminates and why are they so popular?

Laminates are decorative layers commonly used to cover rough surfaces of plywood, MDF, and furniture items to make them look attractive. Laminates are known for their durability, aesthetic appeal, and cost-effectiveness. They are cheaper than solid wood and look much more attractive than paint.

This engineered product is made by joining multiple layers together, where there is a core material like paper and resin, which is covered with a layer of decorative paper or fabric. The core material provides structural support, while the decorative layer is used to give the appearance of natural materials like wood, stone, or metal. Laminates are often an attractive and cost-friendly choice for surface finishing in various residential and commercial applications, including kitchen surfaces, furniture, flooring, etc.

Advantages of Laminates

One of the key benefits of laminates is their high durability, including exceptional resistance to moisture, wear, and dirt, which makes them a perfect choice for finishing in high-traffic areas, outdoors, bathrooms and kitchens.

Laminates are also relatively easier to install and maintain than alternatives like acrylic. They are more cost-effective than wood veneers. Laminates are available in a vast range of designs and textures that fit every application and style. They are made to closely resemble the real materials they are inspired from.

There can be practically hundreds of laminates based on the design alone, but we will not go into all that. In this article, we cover the most common types of laminates based on composition, usage, thickness, and finish, among other factors. Let’s start.

Types of Laminates by Manufacturing Process

Laminates are manufactured by combining multiple layers using adhesives and pressure. Here are the two most common types of laminates based on the amount of pressure applied:

1) High-pressure laminate (HPL)

In this process of laminate manufacturing, the decorative paper is attached to the core material by applying high pressure, which results in a high-quality laminate that is extremely durable and strong. It is commonly used in furniture making to add an attractive and durable laminate on the visible surface.

2) Low-Pressure Laminate (LPL)

In this type of laminate, laminated paper, which has been soaked in melamine resin, is directly attached to the surface of MDF or particle board at low pressure to enhance its aesthetic appeal.

Types of Laminates by Intended Use

Here are the two most common laminate types by applications:

3) Decorative Laminates

The main use of this type of laminate is to add a decorative/protective layer on another product, usually furniture items such as bed frames, tabletops, etc. Mica is a popular example. The sheets are about 1 mm thick, flexible, easy to use and maintain, and resistant to moisture. Because of their decorative use, these laminates come in a wide variety of colours and designs.

4) Industrial Laminates

This type of laminates is stronger and more durable because they are commonly used in industrial settings like circuit board manufacturing and other industries and hospitals. They are resistant to scratches, general damage, wear and tear, and can also withstand exposure to chemicals, bacteria, and fire.

Laminate Types by Design & Texture

Based on how laminates look and feel, they can be categorised into the following types:

5) Single Color Laminates

The entire laminate sheet is made of one single colour. These are generally used in backgrounds, bathroom vanity, countertops, etc.

6) Glossy Laminates

The surface of these laminates is made to have a glossy finish, i.e. they look eye-catching and more attractive than simple, plain laminates. They are made in both single-colour and multicolour options and are commonly used in commercial premises like restaurants and hotels.

7) Matt-finish Laminates

This type of laminate has a “matt” finish on its surface. This is a rather plain and flat finish that may not look very eye-catching but looks stylish and professional and is, therefore, commonly used in offices where something between solid-coloured and glossy is desired.

8) Textured Laminates

These laminates have a textured feel on their surface, like dots or a pattern that you can feel when you touch the surface. They are made by using printed decor paper and look more attractive than flat laminates. They are also more expensive and are commonly used on furniture, flooring and cladding to give them a more realistic effect.

9) Metal-like Laminates

These laminates are made to mimic metals, as their surface has a metal finish. These are used both in furniture and in various commercial and industrial applications.

10) Wood-like Laminates

These laminates are made to give a wood-like appearance. Their surface has a wood-print paper attached to it. It can be either plain/flat or have a textured surface to give the feel of real wood grain. They are available in a variety of hardwood and softwood designs and are commonly used for flooring and furniture.

11) Leather-like Laminates

These laminates are made to have a leather-like surface. However, they only have the appearance and texture of leather but not the feel (softness). They are commonly used in furniture and cabinets.

Laminate Types by Thickness

12) Regular thickness laminates

The thickness of these laminates ranges between 0.8 mm and 1.5 mm. They are fairly thin and usually attached to another material such as plywood. They come in a range of design and colour options and are easy to fix using a strong adhesive.

13) Compact laminates

These are thicker laminate sheets having a thickness in the range of 3 mm to 30 mm. Because of their thickness, they can be used as it is without the need to attach to another material. Both sides of these laminates have designer surfaces.

Types of Laminates by Other Properties

Though all laminates are made to be resistant to moisture, dust and scratches, some are better than others and may have advanced properties like fire resistance.

14) Fire-resistant Laminates

This type of laminate is able to resist fire, which is particularly important in some industrial settings and also in homes and kitchens. Fire-resistant laminate is manufactured by using a special fireproof resin or glue.

15) Electrostatic Dissipative Laminates

As the name suggests, these laminates are able to resist electric shocks and discharges, which can be important in electronic industries. These are particularly used for making electronic items such as circuit boards. They are also resistant to dust and are used in hospitals to ensure a dust-free environment.

16) Antibacterial Laminates

Another commonly used laminate in hospitals is antibacterial laminate, which can resist bacteria and pathogens and prevent their growth and spread. These laminates are also used in other sensitive places like restaurants and kitchens.

17) Outdoor UV Laminates

This type of laminate is manufactured by attaching a plastic film to the paper. It makes the lamination more durable and resistant to UV rays. They are commonly used for making billboards.

18) Countertop Laminates

Another modern and popular type of laminate is countertop laminate, which is used for countertops in kitchens, bathrooms, etc. They are designed to give the appearance of marble and other patterns based on the styling needs of the place where they are to be used.

Finding the Perfect Laminate for Your Next Project

Laminates are a great way to both protect the furniture and improve their visual appeal. Artificial laminates are sturdy, strong and durable in terms of resistance to moisture, dust, scratches and other things. They can, however, be delicate and must be handled properly.

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