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MFA Acc. #: 93.1108


[Formica Corp.] A registered trademark for a series of laminated surfacing materials made from phenolic resins. Formica® was invented in 1912 by Daniel J. O'Conor. Patented in 1913, it was originally made as a substitute for mica, hence its name, and sold to electrical companies as insulation. In 1927, a printing technique was patented to make laminates with decorative surfaces. Formica® laminate and Formica® ColorCore surfacing materials are made from kraft paper impregnated with phenolic and melamine resins then consolidated at high pressures. The sheets are rigid with a uniform thickness. Formica® laminates are designed for interior use on countertops and cabinet facings. The manufacturer recommends that it only be adhered to fiberboard with a Formica® brand adhesive. While top surfaces of an adhered Formica® laminate are resistant to boiling water, an exposed board may warp in high humidity. Freshly cut surfaces will emit small amounts of formaldehyde.

Synonyms and Related Terms

fórmica (Port.); Arborite (similar product made in Canada)


white Formica Counter


Formica Corporation: [Safety Data Sheet]

Physical and Chemical Properties

Strong acids and alkalis will destroy surface appearance.

Hazards and Safety

Possible decomposition products are: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, formaldehyde and nitrogen oxides.

Additional Information

Formica: Website:

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 792
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Website address 1 Comment: