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Ask the Experts: 7 Things Nobody Told You About Laminates

They are found almost everywhere in your home: from your kitchen cabinets and wardrobes to your bathroom vanities and living room feature wall. If you’ve got carpentry done, it’s most likely clad in it. Laminate is the general term for this ubiquitous surface material, but it’s more accurately called High Pressure Laminates (HPLs). What do we really know about it though, beyond the fact that they come in a wide array of patterns and designs? We delve deeper into this material with the laminate experts at EDL, Evershine and Greenlam.


1. There are a few different types of laminates

Design: DSOD Interior

Invented around a century ago, HPLs are currently the most commonly used laminate type for carpentry works in Singapore. They are made from layers of craft paper with melamine resin acting as a core protective layer followed by decorative paper. All these layers are fused together under high heat and high pressure, converting these layers into a single, rigid laminate sheet.

Image courtesy of Greenlam

Compact laminates are a newer form of HPLs and were mainly used for non-residential places such as toilet partitions. They are more resistant to water and humidity as well as chemicals, which is why they are also commonly found in laboratories. Nowdays though, they are increasingly found in homes. Both Greenlam and EDL carry their own brands of compact laminates.

There is an older laminate version called post-form laminates, which were commonly used for countertops as they can be heated up to bend at a curve to a certain degree. However, these are slowly being phased out as better performing materials for kitchen counters are introduced.


2. New technologies are being introduced for laminates

Design: MMJ Design Loft

Today, you can find laminates that are fingerprint resistance, which make them suited for surfaces that face higher traffic like worktops or frequently opened cabinet doors.

In terms of newer designs, besides laminates that can look like stone and metal, there are ones that can also take on the appearance of a reflective mirror.


3. Flooring laminates are not exactly the same as HPL

While they are similar to HPLs, in the sense that they are made the same way, the layers for flooring laminates are usually made from high density fiber board (HDF) or medium density board (MDF), rather than craft paper, which is thinner. However, laminate flooring is similarly being phased out in the face of newer and better performing flooring materials in the market.


4. Avoid using laminates in wet zones or the outdoors

Design: Linear Space Concepts

Our experts advise against using laminates in wet areas of the home, such as the shower area in your bathroom. If you’re using laminates for your bathroom vanity, make sure it won’t be in contact with moisture e.g. make sure the laminates aren’t used as a backsplash and that they don’t touch the flooring.

Laminates aren’t suitable for outdoor areas as well, as they cannot be subjected to long exposure to the elements.


5. They usually come in standard sizes, but there are larger sheets too

Most HPLs come in standard sizes of 2440 (length) x 1220 (width) x thickness 0.8mm (thickness). You will need to join multiple sheets of laminates if you’re using them in larger areas e.g. a feature wall, which can result in unsightly joint lines. One way is to go for larger laminate sheets. At EDL, they have sheets that are 3000 (length) x 1300mm (width).


6. There are two main types of edging materials for cabinets in Singapore

Design: Kuro +

To conceal joint lines between two pieces of laminates as well as to prevent premature laminate peeling, edging is usually used. In Singapore, there are two main forms: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) edging. Both are plastic forms and will lend a very slight curve when applied to the joint. ABS is more durable, as it’s applied by machine whereas PVC is hand-glued in place.


7. Compact laminates for a straight sharp edge

Image courtesy of EDL

With ABS or PVC edging, you can’t quite go for a straight sharp edge look. If you’re looking to get this sleek look, opt for compact laminates. Greenlam and EDL’s compact laminates don’t require extra edging and the colour of the laminates are also coloured through all the way to the core so it looks like a single solid piece.


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