What is Laminate?
Laminate is any product made of multiple layers of component materials. The act of creating laminate is called lamination, which involves sealing the layered material in a protective coating of plastic. Laminates can be made from many different materials for all sorts of purposes. Wood laminates are becoming popular to make counter tops and floors specifically because of their hardwood appearance and extreme durability.
How are Wood Laminate Floors Made?
Laminate flooring is subjected to the rigors of constantly having to support the weight of people walking on it. There are four separate layers. The top, or wear, layer is composed of cellulose paper that has been saturated with plastic resins. This is what makes wood laminate floors so sturdy and durable. Beneath that is the design layer, a sheet of cellulose paper on which a wood design has been printed. Because it's protected by the wear layer, the design cannot be damaged. Next is the core layer, which is compressed particle board, giving wood laminate floors the majority of their thickness. At the bottom is the stabilizing paper, composed of plastic resin-saturated paper, the same as the first layer, save for the fact that it's a little thicker and not transparent. All four layers are put together on a gigantic rolling press and passed through a steam bath while the resin plastic is still wet. The heat and pressure of the rollers force the layers together permanently.
How are Wood Laminate Countertops Made?
Wood laminate counter tops fall under the category of high-pressure decorative laminate. They go through the same heating and pressing process as wood laminate floors, but are composed of slightly different materials. Rather than being made from paper, the counter tops are actually just slivered sheets of wood coated with hot liquid plastic. The pressure from the rollers forces the sheets of wood together into a hardwood design and the steam causes the plastic to harden. The sides are then trimmed and the laminate is cut into sheets for sale and transport.