Laminates ,Core Panels,Edge Materials Glossary of Terms
HPL or High Pressure Laminate: HPL is about the most durable laminate available. It is made of several sheets of paper that get bonded together using high pressure presses. It is used in many horizontal applications such as counter tops and higher quality table tops. On vertical surfaces, it is commonly used for doors and drawer fronts of cabinets. HPL has higher impact resistance than most other laminates. The product gets glued on to the panel generally using a PVA glue. Usually a backer is used to prevent warping or the colored laminate is on both surfaces.
The four most common brand names in the US are Formica, Wilsonart, Pionite, and Nevamar.
- Standard (also referred to as Horizontal grade) is .050″ thick
- Post form is .040″ thick and is used to make post formed counters and tops
- Vertical grade is thinner. .028 – .030″ thick
- Cabinet liner and some import grades are .02″ thick
Melamine or TFM (Thermally Fused Melamine) or LPL (Low pressure laminate): Melamine paper is thermally bonded to particleboard or MDF panels. TFM must be applied to the front and back of the panel to keep the panel balanced. Sometimes a brown backer is applied to the bottom if color is not needed. This is produced in higher volumes than HPL. It is thinner (about .007″) than HPL and is more economical. Since it is thinner, it has less impact resistance than HPL. The insides of cabinets, store fixtures, POP displays, and shelving are common uses of this product.
Foil or Top Coated Melamine: Instead of being thermally fused to the board, it contains a low amount of melamine resin and gets applied to panels using glue. This product is the least expensive laminate. It is primarily used as drawer bottoms or vertical applications such as cabinet backs, signs, or inexpensive side panels in the Point of Purchase Industry. It can be applied to both sides of a panel or one surface without risk of warping.
Vinyl: This is very similar to the foil product. The benefit is that it is good for silk screening on Point of Purchase applications. It also good for miter folding (producing speaker boxes or colums) because of its flexability.
Particle board: Industrial Particle Board (IPB) is made of wood chips that are pressed and bonded together using resin. The standard density is 45 lbs., which is used in virtually all applications. High density (ie. 55 lbs.) is also available for some applications where more strength or screw holding is needed.
MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard: Similar to particleboard, this is made of wood fibers, which are smaller than particleboard chips. It is about 20% higher in price compared to IPB. The primary benefit over particleboard is that it is great for painting or powder coating. However, it is weaker when drilling into the edge compared to particleboard. MDF is usually of higher density than particleboard (ie. 48 to 55 lbs.).
Hardboard: This product is similar to MDF in that it is made of wood fibers. However, it is higher in density (72 lbs.) In most applications, it is only 1/8″, 3/16″ or 1/4″ in thickness. It is normally painted. Hardboard is very strong for its thickness. Applications are side panels in the Point of Purchase market and signage.
Phenolic: Altough there are many different grades of phenolic, we primarily work with decorative paper-based phenolic. The easiest way to describe this product is that it is made of many layers of phenolic impregnated paper as the core material along with colored melamine papers on the decorative faces. This is very similar to HPL (High Pressure Laminate). The core is generally made in either black or brown (although a few other colors are available). The faces can be purchased in many HPL colors.
PVC edgebanding: This comes in thicknesses of .02″ (.5mm), 2mm, and up to .125″ (3 mm). It is the most widely used edge treatment. It gets applied using an edgebander machine. This can be applied on both straight and rounded edges.
T-mold or T-mould: This comes in different thicknesses and shapes. The edge of the board is slotted and the product is pounded into place using an air hammer. This is a good application for boards with rounded corners. There is a limited amount of woodgrain colors and even solid colors compared to PVC edgebanding.
Self edge: Strips of HPL (High Pressure Laminate) get applied to the edge using an edgebander machine.
Post-formed edge: The laminate on the top surface is wrapped around the edge. It is used on most kitchen counter tops and higher-end desks or work surfaces.