Top 5 Materials To Consider For Your Lab Countertops

Jun 7, 2017 12:29:42 PM / by Albert Cappello

You have been tasked with designing your company’s new lab, but you haven’t kept up on new trends in laboratory furniture. You know what your basic needs will be, but the one thing you are uncertain about is what lab countertops to use. 

In my last article, we looked at the factors that need to be considered when selecting a lab work surface. Today we will look at the available options and their characteristics to understand which material may be most suitable, based upon your specific laboratory needs.

Businesses are using labs for many applications these days...education, inspection, research and development, technology, and testing to name a few.  One of the biggest challenges for businesses today is that they are constantly changing. So, you not only have to choose lab countertops for today’s usage, but also future possible uses.

 Let’s look at the top five that we recommend you consider:

 

Phenolic Resin

Phenolic resin countertops are manufactured by layering natural kraft paper that has been saturated with phenolic resin and processed under high heat. The result is one solid, lightweight countertop that is durable and long-lasting.

Lab CountertopsPros

  • Moderate Duty
  • High Bacterial Resistance
  • High Chemical Resistance
  • Moderate to High Corrosive Resistance
  • High Fungal Resistance
  • High Moisture Resistance
  • High Scratch Resistance
  • Continuous heat exposure up to 350 °F
  • Holds up to impact and stress fractures
  • Mid Price

Cons

  • Not Flame Retardant

Pricing

If you are looking for a highly chemically resistant countertop at a reasonable price, this is the material you want to use. It is in the mid range as far as price with only High Pressure Laminate being cheaper. The only downside to this material is that it isn't recommended for use with open flames. 

Best Applications

Biological, Chemical, Clinical, and Analytical Labs. Labs performing experiments and tests where results depend on non-contamination and require laboratory work surfaces that are exceptionally chemical  resistant, impervious and hygienic.

 

Epoxy Resin

Epoxy resin countertops are made from a mixture of materials and then cured as a solid product. They are durable, non-porous and hold up very well under harsh and extreme conditions. They are typically the choice around sinks and heavy moisture.

Pros

  • Heavy Duty
  • High Bacterial Resistance
  • High Fungal Resistant
  • High Corrosive Resistance
  • High Chemical Resistance
  • High Water and Moisture Resistance
  • High Scratch Resistance
  • Continuous heat exposure above 350 °F
  • Flame retardant
  • Holds up to impact and stress fractures

Cons

  • High Price

Pricing

This is the most durable of all the other materials on our list and made for the most extreme lab conditions. It is also the most expensive, because of the limited number of manufacturers. The decision to pay the extra price for this material will depend on whether you need the additional heat resistance and the ability to use open flames on your lab countertops, because it handles that well.
 
Best Applications

Biological Science, Education, Hospital, Industrial Testing, Medical, Microbiology, and Research and Development Labs. Labs performing experiments and tests that use harsh chemicals, open flames and instruments that create extreme heat and require worksurfaces that are durable, resistant to the most aggressive chemicals, and easy to clean and maintain.

 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel countertops are made of low carbon steel that is made up of chromium and nickel. Chromium makes it resistant to rust and corrosion, while nickel makes it stain and heat resistant.

Stainless steel has a non-porous surface, which means that no liquids or substances can penetrate into the material at all. Bacteria, mold and other common household germs don’t stand a chance with stainless.

Pros

  • Moderate to Heavy Duty
  • High Bacterial Resistance
  • Moderate Chemical Resistance
  • Moderate Corrosive Resistance
  • High Fungal Resistance
  • High Water and Moisture Resistance
  • Continuous heat exposure above 1500 °F, but may discolor at prolonged high temperatures

Cons

  • Low Scratch Resistance
  • Dents easily on impact
  • High Price

Pricing

This material gives your lab a very modern look and has moderate to high resistance to various conditions.  The best benefit is its ability to handle very high heat. It is on the higher end as far as price, with Epoxy Resin being the only material that is more expensive.

Best Applications

Biological science, chemical, clean room, food testing, hospital, medical, and pharmaceutical labs. Labs performing experiments and tests where results depend on non-contamination, require worksurfaces that can handle high temperatures and are easily cleanable.  

 

Chemical Resistant Laminate

Chemical laminate is made by applying a melamine resin over decorative surface paper, which is then bonded to a core of kraft papers impregnated with phenolic resin. The result is a decorative worksurface that is functional, durable and highly resistant to chemicals.  It is not recommended for exposure to extremes in humidity or heat over 275°F for suspended periods of time.

Pros

  • Lab CountertopsHigh Chemical Resistance
  • Heat exposure up to 275°F
  • Designer Looks 
  • Mid Price

Cons

  • Light Duty
  • Low Bacterial Resistance
  • Low Corrosive Resistance
  • Low Fungal Resistance
  • Low Water and Moisture Resistance
  • Low Scratch Resistance
  • Can chip at seams and get surface cuts

Pricing

If you are looking for a reasonably priced worksurface that is chemically resistant and has a more designer look, this is a good option. It is in the mid range for price and less expensive than Epoxy Resin and Stainless Steel.  The downside is it should only be used for dry applications and can damage more easily. 

Best Applications

Beauty product, dental, pathology labs, photographic darkroom, product testing, and urology labs.   Labs performing experiments and tests where results depend on non-contamination and require worksurfaces that are chemical resistant, decorative and hygienic.

  

High Pressure Laminate

High pressure laminate is made by applying a melamine resin over decorative surface paper, which is then bonded to a core of kraft papers impregnated with phenolic resin. The result is a decorative worksurface that is functional and durable. It is not recommended for exposure to extremes in humidity or heat over 275°F for suspended periods of time.

  Pros

  • Heat exposure up to 275°F
  • Designer Looks
  • Low Price

Cons

  • Light Duty
  • Low  Bacterial Resistance
  • Low Chemical Resistance
  • Low Corrosive Resistance
  • Low Fungal Resistance
  • Low Water and Moisture Resistance
  • Low Scratch Resistance

Pricing

This is the most economical of all of the materials on our list, but is a general purpose countertop to be used in chemical-free, dry applications only. The best benefit of this material is that there are a lot of designer looks to choose from.

Best Applications

Product testing and technology labs.  Labs performing general functions that require worksurfaces that are functional, durable and decorative.

 

Lab countertops should be a long-term investment.  It is important to consider the type of work you are doing in your lab now and anticipate what you might do in the future. Budget is always important, but your choice must be able to stand the test of time and the rigors of your work.

 

Update Your Laboratory Furniture On A Budget

Topics: Laboratory, Work Surfaces

Albert Cappello

Written by Albert Cappello

Albert Cappello is the CEO of Workstation Industries, Inc. WSI is a manufacturer of Industrial, Technical and Laboratory Furniture based in Southern California.

Subscribe to Email Updates