In the world of office furniture, laminate used to be the poor cousin to solid wood and wood veneer. But that’s not so anymore. The quality, durability and look of laminate has come a long way in recent years. In fact, laminate is the most popular choice for most offices.
While there are now fewer reasons not to buy laminate furniture, there are a few issues to consider. As we did in this post on wood veneer, let’s look at a few potential laminate furniture problems.
Laminate Furniture Problems
#1. It’s Susceptible to Water Damage
While laminate is more resilient to scratches and gouges than wood veneer, it too can be damaged by water or other liquids. You can reduce the chances of staining or damaging your laminate furniture by being careful not to place cups or glasses directly on the surface and cleaning up spills as soon as they happen.
The type of laminate you choose can also improve its durability. Two of the most common types are thermofused laminate (TFL) and high-pressure laminate (HPL).
Both are suitable for most office environments, but because of the way it’s made, HPL is stronger and more resilient. During the manufacturing process, an extra layer of heavy-duty kraft paper is bonded to the top decorative sheet, making HPL more durable and an ideal choice for furniture in busy, high-traffic areas.
#2 It’s Made of Synthetic Materials
If you’re looking for a unique, eye-catching piece of furniture that will impress your clients, laminate might not be the way to go. You’ll also want to skip laminate if you’re looking for furniture that has a natural, organic feel.
Laminate is a synthetic product and will never look like “real wood” even if it has a wood grain design on it. From a distance, you might not be able to tell the difference, but up close you will. That’s not to say laminate isn’t stylish. It offers a wide range of design options, from printed wood textures to customized colours and styles.
“The wood grains are gorgeous now,” says Erin Doyle, one of our design and sales consultants here at Office Interiors. “You can definitely still get that wow factor with laminate if you do the design right.”
In most cases, Erin says once she shows customers the laminate choices available, they’re usually sold on it right away. Thanks to its affordability and style options, laminate is now considered trendy for many modern offices because they no longer have to sacrifice style to save money.
#3. It Has an Image Problem
While laminate isn’t considered to be as high quality as solid wood or wood veneers, the gap is shrinking fast. The quality difference is now more perception than reality. Thanks to better technology and enhanced construction methods, there are fewer trade-offs with choosing laminate over higher-priced wood veneer.
The only real danger is if you opt for low-end laminate made from cheap materials that won’t stand up to the wear and tear of a busy office. With today’s high-quality laminate, you can expect to get five to 12 years out of your office furniture, depending on how much it’s used.
#4. It Shows Stains and Fingerprints
For the most part, it’s easy to keep laminate looking good with some occasional dusting and cleaning with a damp cloth. But some solid laminate finishes like white and black are prone to showing fingerprints, and that can be a nuisance.
You can avoid this by choosing a textured wood grain pattern instead of a solid finish. Having a textured finish makes it harder to see fingerprints and small drink and food stains, especially on desks and other large work surfaces.
Is Laminate the Right Fit?
Do you think the benefits of laminate outweigh its potential drawbacks, or are you still trying to decide which finish option is the right choice for your office?
These days we are finding that most of our customer opt for a laminate finish due to the reasonable price point and high level of durability. It certainly isn’t right for everyone, particularly those looking for something with a level of design aesthetic, but laminate does provide excellent value for most offices.
Wondering how much laminate furniture might cost? Or what kind of warranty it will have? Our Ultimate Guide to Purchasing Office Furniture answers these questions and more!
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development