Decorative laminate

Decorative laminate

Decorative laminates are laminated products primarily used as furniture surface materials or wall paneling. It can be manufactured as either high or low pressure laminate, with the two processes not much different from each other except for the pressure applied in the pressing process.

It is said that the first decorative High Pressure Laminate was produced by Marc-Anton André, who is the sixth generation of Johann Ludwig André, in 1959.[1]


High Pressure Laminate

According to McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture & Construction, high-pressure laminates consists of laminates "molded and cured at pressures not lower than 1,000 lb per sq in. (70 kg per sq cm) and more commonly in the range of 1,200 to 2,000 lb per sq in. (84 to 140 kg per sq cm).[2]

Low Pressure Laminate

Low Pressure laminate is defined as "a plastic laminate molded and cured at pressures in general of 400 pounds per square inch (approximately 27 atmospheres or 2.8 x 106 pascals).[3]

Quality Standards

There are various industrial standards specifically applied for high-pressure decorative laminates:

European Standard EN438

The European Standard EN438 one of the standards that most decorative laminates manufacturer selling to worldwide market (such as Formica, Maica, Wilsonart) adheres to. The specific code is EN438, entitled: Decorative high-pressure laminates (HPL) sheets based on thermosetting resins, specifications. It replaces the BS3794 standard.

The specific part for EN438 which applies to high pressure laminates is Part 3. The full title to this standard is: High-pressure decorative laminates (HPL) Sheets based on thermosetting resins (Usually called laminates) Part 3: Classification and specifications for laminates less than 2 mm thick intended for bonding to supporting substrates. In total there are 9 parts to the EN438. [4]


Antibacterial properties are important for decorative laminates because these laminates are used as kitchen tops and counter tops, cabinets and table tops that may be in constant contact with food materials and younger children. Antibacterial properties are there to ensure that bacterial growth is minimal.

One of the standards for Anti-Bacterial is the ISO 22196:2007[5], which is based on the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS), code Z2801, although some manufacturers are partnering with some chemical companies specializing in anti-bacterial additives.

Some companies may only opt for local standards registration, such as CIAA for China.


A common anti-fungi standard is the ASTM G21-09. Not all manufacturers will take the initiatives for product R&D for anti-Fungi attributes. Manufacturers like Maica Laminates send their products for laboratory tests for certification following the ASTM G21-09 standard[6], while Formica partners with Microban Protection[7], which is a company manufacturing additives, including the anti-bacterial additives.


Some manufacturers take their products for local country tests as required by authorities to enable market penetration. These certificates will include LEED, International Maritime Organization (IMO) and local fire and flame propagation tests.

"Green" Certificates

One of the internationally-acknowledged "Green" certificates for decorative laminates is GREENGUARD. The GREENGUARD marks are to certify that the products have low chemical emissions. Chemicals tested include VOCs, formaldehyde and other harmful particles. The tests are based on single occupancy room with outdoor ventilation following the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2007, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. [8]

There are also many other "Green" certifications, some which are requirements by the authorities before the product can be used as building materials. These include the Singapore Green Label which is recognised by the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) and all its member countries.[9]


Decorative high-pressure laminates are usually used for furniture tops especially on flat surfaces, including cabinets and tables. Decorative compact laminates are sometimes constructed as toilet cubicle systems, laboratory tables and kitchen tops. Some new usage models include wall panels with conceptual designs and custom prints.[10]


The popularity of large format printing using inkjet printers have given a cheaper alternative to decorative laminates, minus the quality. For most uninformed consumers, the large format printing are similar to laminates, and seem to offer more variety of designs and applications. For example, large format prints can be printed on wall stickers, and then installed on walls. Unlike decorative laminates, there are no special adhesive to be used, and the price may sometimes seem so much cheaper comparatively.

However, there are health considerations for large format prints because of the solvent inks used, especially with their relatively high concentrations of VOCs.[11]


  1. ^ (2008, November 1). Constant evolution The Free Library. (2008). Retrieved February 23, 2011 from evolution-a0188725173
  2. ^ McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture & Construction.
  3. ^ McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
  4. ^ Full text for the European Standard EN 438:;jsessionid=C045446E9099A68CC81A25878D446393?preview=&dokkey=337613&selectedLocale=en
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "GEN: Global Ecolabelling Network :: Map of Members". Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  10. ^ The Decorative Laminates market see the different market for the use of laminates. Analysis of the market's anticipation by the International Committee of the Decorative Laminates Industry:
  11. ^

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