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Plastic Laminate is a hard surface which can be made up of any of the following layers in a superimposed unit: kraft paper, foil, printed paper, wood veneer, fabric, melamine, and phenolic resin.

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Melamine
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Phenolic Resin Countertop

A mixture of the above components are fused together with heat and pressure. Plastic laminates are durable, heat, and water resistant. It can be used to surface wall panels, doors, countertops, among other things.  Plastic Lamintae (PLAM) is commonly applied to hardboard, particle board, or smooth plywood. It is adhered to the substrate most often in the field with contact adhesive.

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Thermosetting adhesive can also be used for adherance to substrate under pressure, which typically occurs in a shop setting.

There are two primary types of laminate material, high-pressure laminate (HPL) and low pressure laminate (LPL). Most high-impact areas should utilize HPL which is commonly 1/16″ thick with low-impact areas (doors, etc) utilizing LPL. and 1/32″ thick. Low-Pressure-Laminate is molded and cured around 400PSI or less. High-pressure-laminate is molded and cured in ranges between 1200 and 2000PSI. High-Pressure-laminate is most often used for countertops. If a PLAM surface requires tight rolls or bends, they are typically ‘post-formed’ during manufacture and adhered with thermosetting adhesive.

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Post formed plastic laminate is typically 1/20″ thick and may be bent to radii’s down to 3/4″. PLAM edge band can be rolled to a radius of 3″ or even less if heated. A countertop must be conststructed and in place in the field with all necessary backings, blockings, and profiled trims. if a top-laminated shelf or countertop is not supported underneath by cabinets or framing, it will typically need a backer sheet of PLAM on the underside to keep it from warping.  Some common types of edges found are:

 

-metal edging

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-post formed edge

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-chamfered edge

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and edge-banding.

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