Greenlam’s Parul Mittal is evengalising compact laminates like no other; she believes this new panel can replace many legacy materials and its applications are poised to grow
Gyanendra kumar Kashyap
Gone are the days when monotonous colour schemes were all pervasive. “Design has evolved and with it the design community has gradually started experimenting with colours – be it for shutters or countertops or anything else,” says Parul Mittal, director for design and marketing at Greenlam Industries Ltd. With monotony breaking down, there is a lot of mix and match happening – wood finish with solid colour; walnut with green, oak with red – amongst the present day designers.
“Keeping pace with the changes, and more importantly being a trendsetter ourselves, we keep coming up with new products – gloss, wood, solid colours – that meet the requirement of architects, interior designers, etc,” she adds, referring to her company’s current focus on compact laminates.
Compact laminates have been in vogue in European markets for a while, but it’s been just a few years since the industry in India has woken up to their advantages and applications. “In India the concept is gradually picking up,” Mittal avers. Essentially, compact laminates are thick laminates with thickness varying from 4mm to 35mm, depending on application. There is no need of a substrate – it is in fact a self-sustaining board with decorative surface on both sides.
Mittal says that users must have a zero compromise approach towards quality emerging from manufacturing units. “Source from companies that use the best of raw materials, who do not use urea, produce laminates in batches, and mark and monitor every batch to ensure quality control.” She says that it’s only quality products that can survive the onslaught of competition, quickly adding that compact laminates from Greenlam have NSF, FSC, and PEFC certification.
“There are three types of compact laminates – general purpose, sandwich, and unicore. The general purpose compact laminate has a black core, its thickness depends on use, and it is technically superior to any other laminate pasted on a substrate – ie MDF or plyboard. In the case of sandwich compact laminate, two layers of decorative paper are used to get a designer/fancy edge. The colours can be altered; it’s a customised product. As for unicore, a single coloured decorative paper is used.
Besides being an innovative and durable decorative panel, compact laminates are strong, self-supporting, moisture resistant and durable. This material is easy to handle, can be sawn, drilled, milled, shaped, and threaded. It offers ease of installation and long term stability; and can be quickly installed using aluminum mouldings, mechanical fasteners, etc. Besides, it is non-toxic and does not rot, freeze or cultivate fungi, mildew or spores. “Apart from these qualities, compact laminates are resistant to abrasion, water, fire, harmful chemicals and organic solvents, and in case of combustion they emit low amounts of harmful gases and fumes.”
Given their dimensional stability and the fact that they are waterproof, anti-termite, etc, compact laminates can be used in cabinets, carcasses, shutters, countertops, etc, and other areas of dining space. “They are just the right choice for both horizontal and vertical applications where the surface needs to be functional, durable and at the same time decorative.”
This is a specifier’s product that end-consumers may not be able to understand. But Mittal says that the right way to communicate about it is to address the influencers, the architects and designers, besides educating the distribution network. “For this reason we at Greenlam are meeting architects, interior designers and others in the design community and educating them about the technical aspects and applications. We are reaching the right target group, and they are very enthused about its possibilities.”
Compact laminates face competition from other panel materials such as MDF, plyboard, stone and solid surfaces, and stand up well for each application. In countertops compact laminates compete with marble/granite; in shutters with MDF and plyboard, and likewise in carcasses. Speaking specifically for unicore compact laminate, it’s a good competitor to acrylic solid surface.