Laminates have come a really long way in a relatively short span of time. As technology advances, and as more players join the market, an even wider variety of laminates, now packed with modern features and finishes, can be purchased and used for your next renovation project.
It is a really broad term, but in general, when someone mentions “laminates”, they often mean high-pressure laminates. It is also not uncommon for people to use the term “Formica” and “Laminates” interchangeably - the latter is one of the oldest companies that manufacture decorative laminates, so as much of a misnomer as it is, it is understandable for those not familiar with the industry to mix the two terms up.
Credit: Exclusive Floors
Your good old fashioned laminate is formed under the combined effect of heat and high pressure, in the presence of phenolic resin impregnated sheets, and a decorative plastic layer, which fuses to produce a highly durable end product. You can get them in a wide range of colours, textures and finishes, and at very different price points depending on their country of origin and manufacturing process.
Credit: Design Insider
The Colour Core is probably the simplest and most logical evolution of the humble laminate. You can get most colour core laminates in the same textures and finishes as your typical laminate, but where it differs, is the core having a colour, rather than the brown or black of the kraft paper regular laminates are made out of. This can be achieved by using coloured sheets of kraft paper and dyes, and make for better-finished carpentry as no touchup paint is needed to hide the joint line. As more materials go into the manufacture of this laminate, expect pricing to be steeper than your regular, garden variety sheet.
Credit: Blossom Avenue
Advancements in technology have also enabled laminate manufacturers to produce low-sheen, matte finish laminates that have a smooth and even texture. Again, as the techniques that go into the production of this type of laminate is more advanced than the establishment, you can expect to fork out more as well. These laminates see use in higher-end establishments and residential projects alike, as it oozes a certain sense of class and sophistication that lesser laminates cannot match.
Credit: Family Handyman
By swapping out regular resin for thermosetting ones during the manufacturing process, laminate makers have been able to produce these materials with some degree of self-healing capabilities. Clearly, major and deep scuffs are still beyond its domain, but minor scuffs, once you place a damp paper towel and apply some heat to the affected area, can be worked out.
Instead of adding different dyes or resins like the past couple of examples, magnetic laminates are manufactured by adding a whole extra layer of material into the laminate itself. In this case, producers have realised that magnetism can pass through the decorative layer, even if the material providing said properties happen to just be a thin foil of metal. This means that the end result is a sheet that isn’t very much thicker than their unmagnetised counterparts, and thus can be handled by regular carpenters. That being said, there is a limit to its strength, so powerful neodymium magnets are strongly recommended if said surface is going to be actively used as a magnetic board. Also, it is not uncommon to see these laminates with an easy wipe gloss surface, which allows users to double up as a whiteboard in a pinch!
These laminates are possible thanks to advancements in nanotechnology. In essence, chemistry means that your health will not be negatively affected in any significant way. It, however, wreaks havoc on the cell walls of bacteria, killing or disabling it, preventing it from multiplying. Some manufacturers claim an efficacy rating of up to 99.99%.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of every single kind of laminate available on the market today. What it is though, is a look at the common types of laminates that you can opt for your next renovation project. As technology continues to develop, one can only expect new variants with exciting features to spring up, though you’ll have to decide if the added functionality is worth the extra upfront investment. As we’ve touched on many times prior, a renovation is already a financially draining exercise, but a worthwhile investment in the long run. Therefore, why scrimp on something that makes such a huge visual impact, when you can spend a little more to get the finish and functionality that you’ve always wanted?