Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I bring to your collective wisdom a perplexing question. Is it unwise to use real aluminum in place of HP laminate? I ask because I've been dealing with a client's problem and wish to know how it happened and how to avoid it. This is a gently serpentine outside radius reception counter that is adorned across its front by four horizontal bands of very expensive high tech looking aluminum about the thickness of laminate. They are 6" wide, contact glued to 1/4" birch ply, which is attached to 5" wide standoff material about 1" off of the casework face. The longest band is about 8'. I installed it a few months ago and it looked great. In recent weeks noticeable speed bumps have appeared where the metal has lifted from the substrate in the middle of the longer runs of band. It looked like the metal expanded or the substrate shrank.
I was called in to try and help. All I could do was lift the metal with a hot air gun from the closer end to the humps, shoot fresh contact on it, and roll the stuff back out. Sure enough there was an extra sixteenth to eighth of an inch hanging over the ply when this was done. It got the humps out but there were some ripples.
Why did this happen? Could it have been avoided by using one of the metallic face HP laminates? I ask because my gut says this isn't over yet, and I want to have the right answer when asked. My client used the architect spec'd fancy aluminum, and I think that is where the blame begins. Thanks in advance for all responses.
From contributor S:
The phenolic backed metals can be much better for that situation. The contact just doesn't bond nearly as well directly to metals (spray a puddle on some scrap and let it dry a day. You probably will be able to lift the dried puddle cleanly off the aluminum.) Scuffing might help, but the phenolics bond so much more reliably and are much easier to route and file a nice edge. Is lighting near the panels? It may be contributing to movement. At least it is on panels that can be exchanged without taking the thing apart.