Melamine-faced panels are made with a hard resin overlay that coats furniture made using manufactured wood substrates like MDF, Plywood or Chipboards. It is an organic compound combined with formaldehyde and hardened through heat during the manufacturing process, creating a durable thermosetting polymer, resin or plastic added to another base before becoming a melamine laminate. This melamine coated paper is then glued over wood and non-wood substrates and sold as melamine furniture or Melamine-faced panels. The polymer in Melamine helps give wood substrates that much needed a makeover, turning them inside out to a refreshing newness.
Most modular fittings these days make use of Melamine-faced panels for that added attractiveness and modernity. Melamine furniture entered the market as the next big thing in interior decor in the early 50s and 60s. It was more affordable than regular solid wood furnishings, offering many design variations and applications in modular kitchens, chairs, cabinets, shelves, and other interior decor aspects.
Furniture coated with Melamine is, today, very affordable, comes with a wide range of options that you can pick and choose from, is lightweight, orderly, and an overall convenient option for everyone - right from interior decorators to homeowners. Due to the rise in innovation in the interior decor space, melamine surfaces are more readily available and come in various colours, thicknesses, sizes and patterns.
Application of Melamine on Substrates
Melamine is fastened to wood surfaces using glue or sometimes a coarse-threaded screw like a drywall screw. Since it is a non-porous surface, it is sometimes easier to glue or clamp the surfaces together using polyurethane glues like roo glue or titebond III or even part mixes of epoxy.
Melamine planks come fastened to the substrate as most manufacturers supply ready-made Melamine faced panels to be repurposed.
Types of Melamine
Thermal-fused Melamine or Low-pressure Melamine
Though Melamine is a laminate, not all laminates are Melamine. High-pressure laminates are when sheets of Melamine are fused with MDFs or particle boards. These sheets are glued or bonded together under high heat and pressure, giving a highly durable and long-lasting product. Whether HPL can be categorized under melamines is debatable.
Low-pressure laminates, also called pre-finished boards, on the other hand, are thin melamine papers fused together and compressed onto a substrate like particleboard and treated with high heat and pressure before being coated with a resin.
When it comes to Melamine, there aren’t any standardized grades. However, vertical grade melamine is a thinner grade of laminates made by fusing fewer (about 2-3) sheets, each having a thin, attenuated dimension. Vertical grades are easily available, more slender in comparison, scratch-resistant and come with options.
This grade of Melamine is commonly used for cabinetry, cupboards, and other vertical furnishings-where there isn’t heavy usage.
Horizontal grade melamine is made using thicker sheets that are then fused together with substrates of plywood, chipboards, or MDF. Each sheet is much thicker than the vertical grade, and a far higher number of sheets come together to form a sturdy grade of Melamine known for its strength, durability and resilient nature.
The horizontal grade is the standard grade of Melamine used on kitchen counters and spaces that have heavier usage than the others.
Benefits of using Melamine
There are several benefits of using Melamine in furniture, so it has become a preferred option among many homeowners and interior decorators today.
1. Stain, heat, moisture, and scratch-resistant
All melamine surfaces are known for their resistant nature, and because of their smooth texture and finishing, it is also very easy to maintain. Melamine surfaces harden under heat, leaving the surface of cabinets and counters scratch, stain, heat and moisture-free, and a perfectly durable option for interior decor.
One reason for Melamine rising to popularity in the 60s was that it was a much more affordable option than solid wood. Compared to solid wood, most melamines are more cost-effective, and the prices vary depending on the thickness and type of Melamine used.
3. Versatile options
Like laminates, Melamine too has a wide range of finishes that you can choose from. Depending on your usage, you can opt for a high-pressure melamine surface or settle for low-pressure Melamine with fewer sheets and lesser thickness. Apart from versatility in its thickness, Melamine faced panels also come in a wide variety of colours, hues and wood-grain patterns.
Melamine is said to be one of the most durable and long-lasting options for cabinetry and surfaces in interior decor. When fused with plywood, it creates some of the sturdiest cabinets, cupboards, and even tabletops. That is why you can find many Melamine faced panels that have been fused with plywood for more extended durability and protection.
Compared to solid wood, which contracts and expands and isn’t moisture-resistant, melamine surfaces have much more reliable and wear-resistant surfaces. They are stain-free and easy to clean, which makes them among the top go-to choices for kitchen counters and cabinets.
Owing to innovation, melamine-faced panels give us friendlier ways of designing furniture without the mindless cutting down of trees and hampering the environment.