September 6, 2000
I would like to know if there are any comparison tests out on melamine. Which brands are better - Panolam, IDI, etc. Any opinions?
I have found that the better grades of Panolam are far superior to anything else I have tried.
For my basic white I use their "International White" color. I do pay more, but I feel it is worth it.
The two suppliers in my area carry Panolam and Roseburg. I have used both and find no really significant difference. Currently I use the Panolam even though it is a little higher priced, because the Roseburg distributor sometimes runs out of common sizes and I don't want to wait for their truck to come in. So it is really who gives me the best service.
Panolam has an all-pine core, and seems to cut, band, and finish a little better than Roseburg's fir-core product. Let's face it, though, it is, by nature, a hideous material, and it makes little sense to quibble over nuance!
The choice of melamine brands to use is in many ways something you must test in your shop yourself. Many distributors will give you a sheet of material to try. Most manufacturers will give the distributors allowances for this. You must also look at your tooling and the differences in core material. Southern cores tend to be harder on tooling than western cores.
Then you also have to look at the differences between western pine and western fir. Warranties are also something to look at. Panolam is the only company I know of that will put in writing that their melamine will meet NEMA standards for wear, stain reistance, etc. It meets or exceeds all NEMA standards for vertical-grade laminate.
As far as comparisons on paper, there are none that I know of. But the best rule of thumb is: buy what you feel most comfortable with.
I used to sell melamine, machines, and other products to the woodworking industry. I found that a shop that was looking for the cheapest product didn't care what it was. The shops looking for the best value (includes the board and distributor) tried many types/brands before they made their decisions.