High pressure laminate (HPL) countertops are a great choice for laboratory and industrial spaces that rely on durable surfaces but also do not require a material that can withstand extreme applications.
HPL tops are also very affordable, compared to other materials often used for lab countertops.
No matter which type of material you choose, you should view it as a long-term investment. That’s because your application may change over time, and the work you do in the future may require a different type of countertop than you currently use in your facility’s workstations.
It’s also important to ensure any purchase you make has a high return on investment that will withstand the rigors of your work.
HPL tops are a great option for non-extreme applications that still require a high level of functionality and durability. They feature a melamine resin layer that is placed over decorative surface paper. This is then bonded to a core of multiple layers of kraft paper impregnated with phenolic resin.
This construction provides many benefits, but it’s important to understand the limitations of this surface material as well so that you can determine which type of countertop is best for your workspace.
Below we’ll explore the pros and cons of high pressure laminate tops, including their cost, what their limits are and the best applications for their use.
Pros Of HPL Laminate
The Price Is Affordable
The price of HPL can vary on numerous factors. These include the color, design and even the manufacturer you are working with.
A typical brand may range from $25 to $40 per square foot.
Compared to other choices for industrial workbench tops, they are generally the most economical option.
Heat Exposure Is Still Possible
Although HPL cannot be exposed to extreme heat exposure, this type of material can still be used in applications where some heat sources are present.
The threshold for heat exposure is 275° for suspended periods of time. Anything over this temperature is not recommended for HPL tops.
Decorative Options Are Available
While many industrial countertop materials only feature one look or few looks, one of the best benefits of HPL is that you can customize the look of your product.
Not only can you choose from a palette of colors, you can choose from a variety of designs as well, such as marble and wood looks.
Cons of HPL Laminate
Extremes Should Be Avoided
One of the biggest drawbacks of high pressure laminate countertops is that they cannot be used in extreme environments.
That means they have a low resistance to bacteria, chemicals and corrosion. They also have a low fungal resistance and do not hold up well in environments where water and moisture is present.
If your laboratory or manufacturing space includes equipment that can easily scratch the countertop surfaces, you may want to consider another material since HPL has a low scratch resistance compared to other materials like epoxy resin and phenolic resin.
Limitations To Application
Because you should avoid extreme environments when using HPL countertops, as outlined above, this also limits what type of application for which high pressure laminate tops are recommended.
Labs where abrasive chemicals are routinely used, for example, should not install HPL tops.
The best applications, on the other hand, for high pressure laminate tops are environments like product testing and technology labs, as well as dry environments that perform general function and require work surfaces that are functional and durable.
There are a lot of options available to you when it comes to choosing your laboratory or industrial countertop. When it comes time to replace your countertops or install new ones thanks to an upgrade in your workspace, high pressure laminate is a great choice if the conditions are right.
A high-quality industrial furniture manufacturer can assist you with determining not only what your current needs are, but what your future needs might be as well. It’s important that the manufacturer you work with provides a high-quality product that not only fits your budget, but is durable and withstands any wear and tear your application may impose.
Make sure the manufacturer you work with also will help streamline the process should you decide to customize your high pressure laminate tops with a decorative design. This process should not sacrifice any cleanliness requirements for your space, and should not prolong the time frame of receiving your materials so much so that this key benefit of HPL becomes detrimental.
Before choosing a manufacturer that produces high pressure laminate or other countertop materials available, check out our article, 6 Things To Look For When Evaluating Lab Casework Manufacturers, which details must-have qualities for a company you partner with to design the right tops for your space.