Melamine Finish Quality

Thoughts on the search for a smoother melamine. July 28, 2012

I'm doing some display shelving, and the client commented that other melamine samples she's seen had a nicer finish, particularly smoother. All my suppliers can tell me about melamine is the four colors they stock and how much it is. Not much help. Can anyone shed some light on a product she might be describing? The only thing I can think of is she saw a sample of HPL with a smooth finish, but I don't have to ask to know she isn't interested in paying the additional cost if that's what she saw.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor M:
There are some melamines that have a different finish. Some have wood grain - cherry, maple and so on. Most suppliers doesn't stock those colors/finishes. Special order. And in most cases, you need to order more than a few sheets. I'm not sure about manufacturer but I think Wilsonart has some.

From contributor E:
Maybe she saw some Kortron? It's the old pre-melamine board that had a smoother finish. Don't know if it's still made.

From contributor B:
Unfortunately this one is a bit of a crap shoot. We often get variances between one lift and the next with regard to the smoothness of the melamine - I have no idea why. The only thing I could think of is to actually go to your supplier and have a look.

From contributor S:
We cut various melamine colors and patterns all the time. I don't agree that HPL has a better finish than thermally fused melamine. It's possible that you have some bad panels, but I doubt it. Don't confuse finish with patterns - cherry, oak, white, etc.

From contributor J:
The cold processed, and less expensive, vinyl coated panel has a more glossy, smooth texture than a thermally fused panel which has a more matte finish texture. She may not know what she is talking about.

From contributor A:
Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Melamine from American Laminates has a flatter, smoother and shinier surface with a fir core. Panolam melamine has more of a texture to it as well as a duller look with a pine core. The Panolam also seems to have less chip out when cutting since it is softer. Which one is better? Not sure. She probably saw an American Laminate panel.

From contributor C:
The melamine we use is Roseburg brand. The material we buy comes from Missoula, Montana and Dillard, Oregon. It comes in two degrees of stipple finish (S and Z Texture) and about 60 colors and woodgrains. The same company makes 2 grades of stipple and 1 smooth finish out of their Oxford, MS branch (H, L, and F, Texture). I prefer the stipple finish to smooth finish because it minimizes fingerprints and such. They make it with an all pine core which I find to machine consistently better than the fir core that is also available. I love cutting this stuff on the CNC.

From contributor H:
I use Tafisa brand melamine from Quebec and they have a "furniture finish" on special order that is smoother, much like a satin wood finish as opposed to textured. In Canada these textures and many more are readily available from stock in so many colours it would make your head spin. They are also available in 5/8, 3/4, 1", 1 1/8 with matching laminates in many sizes and 1/2 or 1/4 for backs. Since moving to Florida 6 years ago I miss the variety and availability, but now my supplier, Hardware Imagination, is carrying Tafisa melamine and I can run circles around the "hardrock maple/cherry/honey" trio of colours that others offer.