It is common to speak of melamine boards as if they were all the same and the only difference was the colors or the design. Colloquially it can be good, but in practice there are important differences.
The first thing to keep in mind is that melanin is just the lining of the plate, and that can be used to cover different types of plates or supports. The result will therefore have different properties depending on the support used.
What is melamine or melamine resins?
Melamine is a very stable chemical compound or synthetic polymer, with considerable resistance. It has many industrial uses, but what interests us on this occasion is its use as a coating for wooden boards.
The manufacturing process for these melamine sheets is as follows:
- What is called a decorative sheet is manufactured. Which is basically a paper with the design that the board will finally have printed.
- This paper is impregnated with melamine resins.
- It is cut to size with special blades.
- It is fixed to a plate or support through a pressing process (pressure and heat).
Over the past few decades, there have been major improvements in the sector. A current melamine plate has little to do with one 10 years ago. It has improved in abrasion resistance, quality of finish, variety of textures, chemical resistance, etc.
Features and disadvantages of melamine
Characteristics of melamine as a coating
- finish strong and durable.
- Great value for the price.
- Easy to work. There is no need to sand or apply additional finishes (although some do). In addition, the shape of the plate is practical for the construction of furniture.
- Waterproof. Surfaces coated with these melamine resins are waterproof, as long as they are in good condition. This does not mean that the board itself is completely waterproof. There are parts, more specifically the edges or edges of the plate, where water can penetrate and cause them to swell.
- Wide variety of designs. The possibilities are endless.
Disadvantages of melamine
- Cutting difficulty. If we do not use professional machinery, the cut will not be clean. The melamine chips and the result are beautiful. Although there are some tricks to try to reduce this problem.
- This cannot be corrected. Once the melamine has cracked, it cannot be repaired. It can be covered and / or hidden, but never fixed.
- Wired. If the support or board is of low quality, over time its roughness will be appreciated by the naked eye. This is mainly the case for melamine chipboard panels. Much less with MDF.
- It is necessary to sharpen. This is the process by which a sheet (usually PVC) is attached to the edge of the board to prevent the inside from being seen. It is additional and unavoidable work if the edges are seen. It is common for wooden sheds where this type of material is worked to offer cutting and edge services, that is, we can take our planks cut to size and edges ready for the start of assembly.
Types of melamine
Typically, these types of laminated boards are marketed coated with melamine on both sides, except the edges, and with the same design. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, especially in premium tracks, only the premium design is used on one side. The other usually comes in a plain color with standard quality and even raw. This makes sense when only one side is visible.
Three types of supports or plates are generally used to cover with melamine:
- Agglomerated. Plate formed of crushed wood.
- DM or measured density. In this case, the wood decomposes to a greater extent, turns into fibers. These are joined by adhesives and pressed. The result offers excellent support not only for coating with melamine, but also for other finishes.
- Plywood: They are made by joining veneers of natural wood. It is less common to find melamine, but it offers better mechanical properties and resistance to moisture.
Melamine plate measurements
There are some standard measures of melamine plates. Although there may be differences between areas and / or countries. In Europe, the most common measures are:
The most commercialized thicknesses are 5 mm, 16 mm and 19 mm. They are also found relatively easily at 3 mm, 6 mm, 10 mm, 22 mm or 30 mm.
As already mentioned, melamine boards offer an excellent quality / price ratio. They are much cheaper than solid wood and only slightly more expensive than uncoated or rough versions. That is, in melamine slabs, the cost of the coating is relatively low. Therefore, they are so competitive.
By brackets, the cheapest will always be the card, MDF will be slightly upwards, and there will be a significant increase with the plywood.
Regarding colors, as in many products, there is a color for mass consumption and a little lower cost. That color is white.
The normal thing is that within a range of products, where the technical characteristics are maintained and only the design varies, there are no major price differences. If it exists, it is due to the manufacturer and / or trader’s commercial policy.
To give you an idea, the The price for a melamine base plate with 244 × 122 cm chipboard support would be between € 24-30. In MDF, it would rise to € 28-36. And plywood is unlikely to fall below € 90.
Uses of melamine boards
The first thing to make clear is that they are not suitable for outdoors.
Its main use is the manufacture of furniture: kitchen and bathroom furniture, cabinets, shelves, shoe holders …
Other uses are panels or wall cladding.
Melamine designs and colors
As we already mentioned, the possibilities are endless. Virtually everything that can be printed. This does not mean that from a practical point of view we will find everything.
We usually find colors and designs that are a trend in the world of decoration. A manufacturer is unlikely to produce anything that is not sold. The rotation of the drawings is great, and it is quite possible that after a while a board that is very well sold will be discontinued due to lack of demand.
Most brands and manufacturers classify melamine plates in 3 groups:
- Woods. Designs that imitate all types of wood and finishes for them.
- Solid or solid colors. White, gray, blue …
- Creatives or original designs. In this section we would find not only imitations of other materials such as stone, cement or textile products, but also designs created by the brand itself.
Some manufacturers offer the option of making fully customized melamine plates. Both in sizes and designs and colors. But not at any price and quantity. It must be a big enough order. It is common in the renovation of large hotel complexes, public buildings, etc.
Plasticized plate textures
Over the years, innovations in melamine coatings for planks or wooden boards have allowed not only visually imitations, also managed to imitate the touch.
The realism in this type of product continues to grow. Initially, there was just a completely smooth texture. Then, a certain roughness was changed for some drawings, but there was no synchronization between the drawing and the texture. Today we find melamine plates that even imitate the texture of the wood grain, the touch of leather, etc.
Some of these textures would be:
- Wood pore.
- Deep pore.