Over the years, melamine furniture has become a favorite option for many consumers. The reasons are multiple: very competitive prices, easy-to-work materials, constant quality improvement, etc. This does not mean that this type of furniture has problems.
But they have not only gained popularity among consumers. There are also many DIY enthusiasts who venture to work with the material. The guides, tips and plans for melamine furniture that we can find on the net are becoming more and more common. We even find abundant software and tools that help us plan cuts and embroidery for this type of furniture.
When we talk about melamine furniture, we don’t mean mainly those made of wood-based boards coated with melamine resins. In other words, melanin is just the plastic layer that covers the card to fix and preserve the decorative paper where the design was printed. Is a common use in pure british decor.
Two types of slabs or materials are used mainly to coat melamine and make furniture. Each of them has its own characteristics, so the result will be different.
- Agglomerated. Clusters are a little more common, lighter, also less resistant and cheaper. The surface is rougher, so there is a risk that over time this roughness will be wired and appreciated on the surface. The latter occurs mainly with solid color designs.
- Fiber boards (low, medium and high density). We usually talk about mdf or dm, which offers a really smooth and ideal surface for melamine. Depending on its density, it can be heavier, more stable and more expensive than the card.
Although these are the most common supports, they are not the only option, we can also find plywood, etc. There are also combinations of slabs available: chipboard or OSB interior, covered with thin layers of MDF to improve the melamine finish.
Both types of plate can be found with improvements against moisture and fire. That is, water repellent and fire retardant. These improvements also imply a higher price for melamine furniture.
Edges in Melamine Furniture
When working with melamine-coated plates, you need to know that edges or edges are bare and need to be covered. For this, tapes are used that are glued and cut to the right size. This process is called sharpening or metallization.
These tapes can be made of different materials and can be glued with different techniques and glues. The most common are PVC tapes, which also allow for a wide variety of designs, almost as much as with melamine. Veneers of natural wood, solid wood, etc. can also be used.
This issue is also important because the edges are one of the major weaknesses of melamine furniture.
- From the aesthetic point of view, a bare or badly sharp edge makes the furniture ugly. To which it is added that the edges can loosen with time, either by misuse or poorly glued.
- Bare edges, poorly glued or with low quality glue facilitate the passage of moisture to the plate. If this happens, the furniture will swell and spoil quickly.
Melamine design and colors
This is one of the great advantages of melamine furniture. They can be made in any color or design that can be printed. Therefore, they are available in plain colors, in original designs or imitating other materials such as wood or marble.
Over time, not only problems like print quality or resistance have been improved. Others, such as the synchronization between the design and the surface they also greatly improved the texture. That is, we can find some cases in which not only the appearance of the wood is imitated, but also the touch.
Although it is not usual, it is also possible to varnish or paint melamine furniture. This type of DIY work is done mainly to give a new look to some old furniture and save a few euros.
Advantages of melamine furniture
- Great value for the price. The use of chipboard and MDF as a support significantly reduces the cost of furniture. In addition, the benefits, in terms of strength and stability, are good.
- Endless design possibilities. As we already said, the use of printed paper and melamine allows practically any design and color. The problem would be in finding the company that sells what we are looking for.
- Melamine is waterproof. The melamine layer that covers the table top and, therefore, the furniture is waterproof. Thus, for moisture to penetrate the interior of the wood, it must do so by means of protrusions or scratches that have broken through this layer or by the edges.
- Easy to clean.
- Melamine resins are an antibacterial plastic product.
- Ease of work and machining. This type of plate is very easy to handle, work, machine and it is not necessary to apply additional finishes. Which further reduces the total cost of the furniture.
Disadvantages of melamine furniture
- Repair difficulty. If the melamine breaks down, it cannot be repaired. We can try to disguise it or cover it up, but never repair it.
- Dress. With time and use, this type of surface wears away. This wear is accelerated by some cleaning products and is especially noticeable in solid colors.
- Moisture. The great disadvantage of melamine-coated furniture is the resistance to moisture in the support, that is, the panel. Both the cardboard and the MDF swell in contact with water. Water-repellent treatments reduce the effects of moisture, but do not make them completely immune. If the swelling is not excessive, we can try to correct it.
- Limited heat resistance. If the heat is excessive, the surface may be damaged.
- Needs edge. As we already said, it is necessary to make an edge of the pieces that make up the furniture. On many occasions, in the interior and in the hidden parts and edges, to reduce costs, no cut is made.
- Need for machinery to make cuts. Although we mentioned that working with melamine plates is easy, cutting cannot be done with any tool. For a really perfect cut we will need industrial machinery, otherwise the corners will be chipped or chipped. Here are some tips for making amateur cuts and minimizing this problem.
- Telegraphed. We encountered this problem especially when low quality materials (chipboard) or especially light colors like white were used. Over time, some stains appear, which are actually the particles that make up the agglomerate that become visible and that even affect the touch.
What types of melamine furniture are made?
As we already said, this type of furniture is the most common today. Their use is very widespread and we can find them anywhere in the house, even in bathrooms and kitchens.
So alone they are not recommended outdoors and in some areas of extreme humidity, such as saunas.
They are sold in all types of furniture stores and DIY centers. It is surprising that many wood professionals have stopped working with solid or natural wood in favor of this type of material (in some cases by their own decision and in others because it is what their clients demand).
It is important to highlight the presence they have within the kitchen and furniture modules. Today the kitchen that is not made with melamine furniture is an exception. Virtually all modulation is of this type, although in some cases other types of wood and / or finishes are used for the doors.
Melamine cabinets are also increasingly common, along with television furniture, shelves …
Melamine or solid wood furniture?
This is undoubtedly a trick question. There are many variables to consider before you give an answer.
We cannot simply say that solid wood is better than chipboard or MDF. Not all woods are the same, not all boards.
More or less the same happens with the finishes. However, not in terms of prices, where a melamine plate will always be cheaper.
If we only deal with the price variable, the cheapest option is probably melamine furniture. But I also assure you that, as we move forward in the range, we will find many pieces of furniture made with melamine plates that are superior, both in price and in quality, to others made of solid wood.
It is also important to say that both materials cannot be seen as substitutes only. We will often see them combined, even with others, on the same piece of furniture.