Thermal-Fused vs. High-Pressure Laminate


Many office furniture manufacturers choose to make their products with some sort of laminate material because of its’ durability in the workplace, lower cost for the customer, and wide variety of finishes. However, a common misconception is that all laminate products are the same. This is not the case. Typically, manufacturers will choose to create products with either Thermal Fused Melamine (TFM) or High Pressure Laminate (HPL). So what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Let’s take a second to dig into the details of each.

High Pressure Laminate consists of a printed decor paper fused to multiple sheets of kraft paper saturated with a melamine resin. Heat and pressure bonds all the sheets together in a thermosetting process. This creates a flexible, durable piece of plastic-like material, which is then adhered to a thicker core material (particle board or MDF) using a variety of adhesives. High-Pressure Laminate is heat, moisture, stain and abrasion resistant, making it a great choice for heavy use office spaces.

Thermal Fused Melamine consists of that same printed decor paper sheet, fused directly to the core material (particle board). By omitting the process of fusing it to kraft paper first, there is a considerable cost savings, which make Thermal Fused melamine an affordable option. Like High Pressure Laminate, Thermal Fused Melamine is heat, moisture, stain and abrasion resistant. It is also peel resistant, since it’s fused directly to particle board.

High Pressure Laminate

High Pressure Laminate


So, how do these two laminate products compare and how do you choose which to look for in your office furniture? It’s important to note that both High-Pressure Laminate and Thermal-Fused Melamine provide a durable, low maintenance solution for any office space. Both materials are available in a variety of finishes, although High Pressure Laminate offers a wider variety of pattern and texture. Of course, there is a cost savings with Thermal Fused Melamine. The Thermal Fused manufacturing process skips the step of fusing the decor paper to a layer of kraft paper, and the savings pass on to you.

Thermal Fused Melamine

Thermal Fused Melamine


But High Pressure Laminate is a more flexible option. Since the decor paper fuses to kraft paper, the result is a flexible material that can adhere to surfaces of all shapes and sizes. It is bendable, so it can follow the curve of a desk. Thermal Fused Melamine fuses directly to a solid piece of particle board that can only be cut, not bent. The Thermal Fused Melamine surface is thinner than High Pressure Laminate, so it is more vulnerable to scratches and chips. And while both materials are moisture resistant, if you left a sweating glass on the surface of each overnight, the results would be different. The Thermal Fused Melamine surface would likely bubble up and visibly damage the desk. The High Pressure Laminate would only show minimal damage to the desk, because of its’ superior durability. There are pros and cons to each material, and most often the best choice depends on the application.

Contact your Thrifty representative today to discuss which option is best for your project. With locations in Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington and Burlington-Greensboro, we can meet with you in person to discuss your office needs. Based on our assessment, we can recommend a variety of products that use either type of laminate.

Jennifer has over 5 years of experience in the marketing industry - all of it spent in the Triangle area. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in Psychology and began working at a local marketing agency as the Office Administrator. She moved her way up in the company, eventually becoming the Director of Project Management. But marketing is her true passion, so she gladly took the opportunity to join the Thrifty team as Marketing Manager. Jenn enjoys photography as a hobby and is working on getting a website of her photos together to share with the world. She also spends most of her time chasing around her two Scottie puppies, Angus and Duncan.


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