MCA-Design Trend: Laminates-1

Lamination is the technique of manufacturing a material in multiple layers, most commonly involving pressure, welding, or adhesives. Laminates come in plastic, wood, stone, metal and composites, and they can be used on just about everything: counters, floors, walls, ceilings and cabinets.

They’re popular because the layered manufacturing process gives us products with amazing strength, stability, durability and sound insulation. They’re perfect for high-traffic areas that take a lot of abuse. That’s why they’ve become a favorite in hospitals, schools, offices, restaurants and retail.

But at some point, laminates started to get a bad rap in residential interior design for looking too “industrial.” Then, granite, stone and solid surfaces came into fashion for countertops and it looked like laminates might continue to decline. The trick would be to bridge the gap between aesthetics and durability.

Of course, that’s exactly what’s happening. And that’s why it’s time to take a fresh look. Today’s laminates are not those of the 1960’s, or even the 1990’s!

Major manufacturers like Nevamar, Wilsonart, Formica and Lamin-Art offer a wide variety of colors, wood grains, textures, abstracts, metals, and stone looks. There are more finishes than ever before, too. So now, you can use finishes to fine tune exactly the look you want: velvet, textured, gloss, polished, and wood essence are just part of a long list of choices.

And that’s just the countertop guys! There are also the specialty companies like Chemetal, Treefrog and Interior Arts who have hundreds of stunning metal designs, wood veneers and wood laminates. They’re definitely pricier, but their products are truly unique in appearance and quality.

Studies continue to prove that our surroundings play a huge role in health, attitude and wellbeing. Designers and manufacturers continue to develop laminate products that bridge the aesthetic and durability gap, giving us a greater ability to create spaces that impact the quality of life for the people who experience them. Laminates have allowed us to create healing healthcare environments with the use of warm wood grains. Durable and beautiful laminate materials used in schools, fitness centers, and health clubs can actually motivate and inspire activity. Restaurants, hotels, casinos, and nightclubs have used metal laminates add sophistication and quality to their environments.

Where does it end? That’s the really great news: it doesn’t. Technology and innovation will continue find new techniques and finishes. Durability will get better and better. But you don’t have to wait. Laminates have never been better than they are today. It’s a whole new world out there. You might want to give laminates another look.

Mary Cook & Josh Kassing

Written By

Mary Cook & Josh Kassing

Founder and President of Mary Cook Associates (MCA)