High Pressure Laminate Surfaces
- Laminate is composed of multiple layers of paper, saturated with
resin, and finished with a printed surface. (In recent years, the
quality of printing has become so good that it is occasionally hard to
distinguish laminate from real wood veneer.) These layers are pressed
together under high heat and pressure, creating a durable plastic-type
material that is very resistant to scratches, water stains, and
Laminate has a more consistent color and grain than veneer, and is ideal
for withstanding everyday office use and wear and tear. It's the most
durable worksurface material available, and will provide many years of
excellent service. While small objects such as paper clips and staples
may eventually leave minor scratches over the years, heavy
"sharp" objects such as a lamp base or computer monitor base
could leave larger, visible scratches if carelessly placed or moved over
To clean a laminate surface, simply wipe with a clean, water dampened
soft cloth as needed. Do not use commercial products that contain high
amounts of wax or silicon, as they will leave a residue and may alter
the appearance of the furniture over time.
Low Pressure Laminate Surfaces - Sometimes referred to as
melamine, low pressure laminate is a thin single melamine paper bonded
to a substrate board. Although it has the same visual surface
characteristics as a high pressure laminate, low pressure laminate
surfaces are less than 3 millimeters thick and over time, the surface
may not be as durable as high pressure laminates, depending on the
utility of the furniture. They are more susceptible to scratches, water
stains, and heat marking.
Veneer Surfaces - Veneer communicates the ultimate in richness
and status. Virtually everyone appreciates the deep luster and changing
play of light that is inherent in real wood furniture. If you are
shopping for "real wood" office furniture, you're probably
looking at veneer in almost every situation.
Veneer is normally laid over a particleboard substrate. Because of this
durable substrate, veneer furniture resists warping and the possibility
of moisture damage better than solid hardwood.
However, veneer surfaces are less durable than laminate. Objects, large
and small, can leave visible scratches if carelessly placed or moved
over the surface, and severe scratches may not be repairable. As a
result, objects should always be lifted - never slid - when they are
moved across the finish surface. Use of desk pads and coasters is
recommended to avoid having imprints transferred to the veneer. Also,
accessories placed on the wood surface should have felt, leather, or
cork pads on the bottom contact points to avoid scratching the finish.
Rubber or plastic pads should be avoided, as they may have a chemical
reaction with the wood finish material, which could soften or damage the
Color change is a natural phenomenon of all wood materials. Woods change
color with prolonged exposure to the ultra-violet light coming from
windows and fluorescent lighting. Cherry wood changes are the most
rapid. Cherry will take on a darker "golden" tone with age.
Maple will also turn darker and more "yellow" with age and
exposure to light. Walnut will lighten with "golden" hues,
while Oak will darken and yellow slightly. As a rule, lighter-colored
finishes (i.e. honey and red cherry) are more apt to show these color
changes compared to darker finishes (i.e. mahogany and walnut). Darker
colors act as a "sun block" and reduce the aging effect. As a
result of these changes, it's a good idea to periodically rearrange desk
accessories and other desk objects to ensure even aging. This will help
prevent light or dark spots from occurring.
Natural veneer surfaces can be protected and preserved with a polish
containing natural ingredients. Polishes that contain waxes or silicons
should be avoided. Lightly apply polish at least six times a year for
furniture under normal use. Use a soft, lint-free absorbent cloth and
always work back and forth with the grain of the wood. Wiping against the
grain can cause small scratches in the finish. To touch up an area or to
remove a scratch, use a scratch repair solution like Old English. If a
scratch is too deep to be repaired with this type of solution, you
should have it repaired by a professional wood refinisher.