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12 October 2010

Compact Laminates vs MDF Core Toilet Partitions

With the introduction of compact laminates to the partition market 10 years ago, the specifier is now faced with what can be a bewildering array of choice when it comes to toilet partitions and I am often asked to recommend the most appropriate system for a specific environment.
  Hale offer a range of systems using either compact or MDF core systems, so I have no bias to either product. Each product has its own merits and I believe should be specified accordingly.

Firstly, I would like to clarify a few myths and urban legends.

1. MDF Core systems swell on contact with water. 

An MDF core system in the wrong environment will be problematic. We cannot use these systems in a shower cubicle, or where the amenities are cleaned with a hose or water blaster. This type of cleaning regime is not common however, and we have used this type of substrate successfully for many years. In the last 15 years I have been called back to one job only where the substrate had swollen due to water ingress, and this was where a particle board core had been used in a shower. One incident in 15 years is not too bad a record (we replaced the blown panels at no charge) so I am bemused at the number of times I am told that the MDF core systems are unsuitable for a bathroom environment!

2. Compact Core panels are the only product that should be used in a bathroom environment.

See above. This is a myth pushed by people who only sell compact laminate. Yet is surprisingly accepted as gospel by people in the industry. It frustrates me that sales people will generate a fear around a product that in reality is not a problem in order to sell their own system.

What is Compact Laminate?

Compact is a phenolic resin core High Pressure Laminate panel, normally 13mm thick. It is made of layers of craft paper soaked in resin with a decorative face either side whch is then pressed at very high pressure to create a panel. The panel is waterproof and can be machine finished, so the edges do not need to be sealed or capped to prevent water ingress. It is an ideal solution for wet areas such as pools, gyms or showers. The decorative face is identical to that of a High Pressure laminate such as Formica. Our Multipurpose, Freestyle13 and Innovations range systems all use compact laminate boards.
Recent Hale Compact jobs: Eden Park, Les Mills, Mighty River Power, Westfield Shore City.

What is an MDF/ Ply core?

MDF or ply is used as a substrate with a laminate applied to each face. This laminate can be a high pressure laminate such as Formica, Laminex, Wilsonart, Pionite or Nevamar. Other types of material that can be laminated are sheet aluminium or stainless steel, natural timber veneers or 2 mm FRP sheet such as Kemlite. These products all form a waterproof face to the panel, but do not seal the edges of the board. For our partitioning systems we will either cap the edges with aluminium channel, or apply an ABS or PVC edge trim to match the panel colour. These panels are used widely in schools, offices and factory environments.

Recent Hale MDF core jobs: 80 Queen St, 21 Queen St, Britomart Stage 1 and 2, Telecom, Featherstone St, Boulcott House and Dunedin Stadium to name a few.

Next month’s topic: Colour choices.

View more information on Hale Manufacturing, including contact details.
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