Melamine Quality Issues

Cut-price melamine from the big-box DIY stores doesn't match up to professional-grade material, say the pros. December 28, 2005

Home Depot sells particleboard melamine that is various widths and already drilled for shelves. Does anybody know the quality of this material?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
I have a sample of the HD material you're talking about in my showroom, right next to a sample of the melamine I use. I use them as side-by-side comparisons for customers who wonder why my prices are so much higher than the big box stores. Once they see and feel the difference in the quality of the materials, they rarely ask that question again.

From contributor G:
What exactly is the quality difference? Is it a thicker melamine surface? Or a substrate difference?

From contributor R:
Thickness of the paper, quality of the resin, density of the particleboard, quality of the glue. Lots of differences, which all add up to the usual HD junk at high prices. You can get higher quality for the same or lower prices from a quality yard and it won't have dings, nicks, and scratches from goons loading it into those stupid racks from which you have to kill yourself to get it out.

From contributor S:
Everything contributor R said is correct, but to expand upon the idea... Not only is the melamine paper thicker and of tougher quality, it's fused to the substrate in a much stronger process. The substrate itself is stronger because the materials used are of harder woods (far less pine), the chips are smaller and more densely packed. This results in stiffer panels and better screw/nail holding power. I could go on and on... suffice it to say there's a reason HD's is cheap.

From contributor D:
For the price of one 16" x 96" melamine shelf at HD, I can get a whole 49" x 97" sheet of melamine at my distributor. You can get it with 1 sided or 2 sided melamine.

From contributor P:
I've been asked that question at least 100 times. I just opened a store that will cut to size any color of melamine at a better price, scratch and ding free, and edged to customers' specs. I can't believe people buy that crap over there (HD). Hopefully they will buy quality over here!

From contributor R:
I constructed some backpack cubbies for a local school from HD melamine. The surface marred quite easily and the piece I had hoped would give them years of service due to use of a durable product is probably not going to make it another year. Go to a good distributor and buy quality.