Laminate flooring is an economical alternative to hardwood flooring.
Plastic laminate is a composite building material made from kraft paper, resin and adhesives. Multiple layers of kraft paper are soaked in resin and then pressed together at high levels of temperature and pressure to form a single sheet. Plastic or resin laminated adhesive is then used to add a decorative paper or melamine top layer. Finally, a protective urethane top layer or wear layer is added to increase strength and durability.
Laminate is generally chosen for its realistic finish, which is designed to mimic other materials, including stone, tile, wood, or metal. This type of laminate typically costs less than these materials, but is visually identical. This is because the decorative paper or melamine top layer on a laminate sheet is made from a high quality photographic image of these types of materials. It may contain real wood grain, stone grain, or other patterns and textures that contribute to the quality of the finish.
Plastic laminate sheets can be glued to a wooden or composite base using laminated glue, adhesives or resin. The laminate-topped base is then used as a countertop, floor finish or wall panel. The laminated sheets themselves can also be used as a decorative finishing material in a wide variety of applications.
There are several different types of laminate products, many of which are sold under popular brand names such as Formica® or WilsonArt®. Different types of plastic laminate can be categorized based on the thickness of the laminated sheet, which increases strength and durability, or even the thickness of the urethane wear layer, which helps to extend the life of the material. Laminated products can also be distinguished by color, texture and design style.
Many buyers choose plastic laminated products for their easy cleaning and low maintenance requirements. Laminate is waterproof and stain resistant, making it a popular choice for kitchen countertops and floors. It is also much more affordable than alternative products such as stone, tile or wood. Buyers can choose from an almost infinite number of colors and finishes, or they can even request custom colors or textures for special projects.
One of the main disadvantages of this material is the type of adhesive used to bond the layers of each sheet. Many plastic laminated glues contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to poor indoor air quality. Buyers can look for low or no VOC products to minimize this problem. Laminate is also considered to be less durable than other materials and is more likely to chip or crack. It can also be difficult to repair once damaged and requires more frequent replacement than alternative products such as stone or ceramic tile.