Laminated or lacquered? Which of these two materials would you choose for your project? There is only one way to find out: to know the qualities, characteristics and aesthetic aspects of both. When we go
Laminated or lacquered? Which of these two materials would you choose for your project? There is only one way to find out: to know the qualities, characteristics and aesthetic aspects of both.
When we go in search of a coating for our project we always consider the dimensions, the finish, the color or the cost. We do not focus on the materials which it is made or the finish, at least until we look at the prices. But behind a board there are technical and aesthetic features sometimes apart from each other and that would be nice to know. Therefore, let’s learn to distinguish between two of the most common products of furniture, doors and coatings: laminate and lacquer.
We will start by saying that the laminate is a coating, while the lacquer is a finish. Both represent ways of characterizing the appearance of wall, door and furniture coverings and, although in some cases they are visually confused, they have nothing in common, except the ability to give life to a really wide range of aesthetic solutions.
Laminate: What is it?
Laminate, is a coating that is applied to give a finish to the boards. These are generally derived from wood, such as chipboard or MDF. Therefore, the laminate is used to beautify the surface of a lower quality material and often for furniture or doors with lower costs.
It began to spread since the middle of the last century, in parallel with the rise of the furniture industry, and today it continues to be chosen and appreciated for its many and very valid characteristics.
How laminate is manufactured
The laminate is obtained by combining sheets of paper filled with thermosetting resins, almost always phenolic or melamine. In this first layer is another color, decorated or printed to give the desired final aesthetic effect. In the end we find a protective outer layer, more resistant by the additional presence of resins. All this gives life to a thin sheet whose thickness is usually between 0.6 and 1.2 millimeters.
Depending on the intensity and the type of pressure applied in the different layers, we have different types of laminate. The most common is called HPL (High Pressure Laminate).
Laminate is a decidedly versatile product and full of advantages, reasons that have made a fortune in the furniture industry. First, it is very resistant to wear and the passage of time. It resists shocks or scratches, is very compact, waterproof and hygienic and, therefore, especially suitable for use on kitchen countertops. It is also appreciated for the ease of cleaning, although the use of steel wool should be avoided. It can be exposed to sunlight without fear of discoloration, but direct contact with high temperatures that could damage. It should be avoided. Finally, it has an excellent quality / price ratio.
Aesthetic aspects of the laminate
The laminate reproduces the wood from which it follows patterns, colors and materiality. Combined with its resistance, have made it an excellent solution for floors.
Until now, the “plastic” effect was high, today we find high quality laminated furniture where you need to take a closer look to differentiate them from real wood.
But what makes laminates interesting is their ability to give life to surfaces of all kinds, from smooth and textured surfaces, lacquered effect, to those that mimic stone, marbles, metals, cement and resins. The laminate, therefore, is no longer for low-level furniture and coverings, but is used in all kinds of sophisticated and quality projects.
Lacquered: What is it?
Lacquering, unlike laminate, is a finish and applied to wood panels, or boards derived from wood, to obtain surfaces of continuous colors.
In summary, nowadays, lacquering is a treatment that uses colored or transparent paint to cover and give a finished look to the wooden panels. Originally, however, the term referred to a natural resin, lacquer, which in the Far East was worked and applied to artistic objects, giving it the typical bright or semi-bright patina with an orange-red color.
How lacquering is done
Lacquering is a treatment commonly considered of greater value than the laminate, due to the degree of brightness that can be given to the treated surfaces.
Polyester or polyurethane paint is mainly applied by spraying in several layers, waiting between them to allow the previous layer to dry with evaporation of solvents. Brushing and sanding are key steps to achieve perfectly smooth and shiny surfaces. This does not mean that to obtain an extraordinary result. It is necessary to take care of the base surface beforehand, which should not present any undulation or noticeable defect.
The main characteristic of lacquering is to give life to elegant homogeneous and compact surfaces of any color. The paint can be applied in the same way to solid wood and chipboard boards or, more commonly, to MDF boards.
Therefore, lacquering is also often used to give a second life to old doors or solid wood furniture that have lost the original enamel or do not go well with the contemporary environments in which they should be inserted.
The quality of the lacquer depends on the care and time spent in the different phases of the treatment, as well as the quality and quantity of paint used. All this affects the final costs and generally means that a lacquered furniture is more expensive than a laminated one.
Lacquering is a durable finish with a good level of wear resistance, but not comparable to laminate standards. In addition, direct exposure to sunlight implies the possibility of discoloration or color changes.
For the maintenance of the lacquer, soft cloths and non-aggressive cleaning products should be used: avoid alcohol and acetone that could spoil it.
Aesthetic aspects of lacquered
Lacquering is appreciated for the elegance. That gives the surfaces in all possible finishes.
In fact, lacquering can give life to perfectly matt, glossy or glossy surfaces. You can even get bright mirrored panels that reach brightness values greater than 80 on a scale whose maximum is 100.
If you do not like the smooth and glossy finish, you can choose the relief, which is rough to the touch and obviously opaque.
Finally, open pore lacquering is very popular, it is the one that allows you to glimpse the wood below and appreciate the texture of the veins.
Maximum freedom is also granted to the choice of colors, since there is no limit, except your own imagination.