Plastic laminate

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A layer of paper or cloth that is impregnated and coated with a polymer to form an insoluble homogeneous piece. Laminates were first made in 1907 by Leo Baekeland when he coated Canvas with phenol formaldehyde. The Formica Company was formed in 1913 to produce plastic laminates in sheet form. In 1927, urea and thiourea formaldehyde resins were used to decrease costs, but resulting in a less durable product that warped easily. In 1938, Melamine resins were used to form a laminate that was resistant to abrasion heat and moisture. But because of its high cost, it was used as a surface finish over a urea formaldehyde resin core. Various filler sheets have been used over the years, such as Kraft paper, Alpha paper, Rag paper, Cotton fabric, Asbestos felt, and Fiberglass cloth. Plastic laminates were popular in the 1930s and 40s for use as storefronts, wall panels, countertops, wall panels, and furniture.

Synonyms and Related Terms

laminated plastic; laminado plástico (Esp.); stratifié (Fr.); laminato plastico (It.); plástico laminado (Port.)

Examples: P lam; Formica® [Formica]; Micarta; Roanoid;


  • Ultraviolet light fades dyes and yellows phenolic resins.

Resources and Citations

  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Thomas C. Jester (ed.), Twentieth-Century Building Materials, McGraw-Hill Companies, Washington DC, 1995