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What is Lamination Paper?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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Lamination paper is a specialty paper used to create laminate building materials. These laminate materials, which include things like flooring and countertops, serve as an economical alternative to traditional building materials like hardwood or granite. Using lamination paper, manufacturers can print stone or wood-like designs that recreate the look of these more expensive materials. The lamination paper is then bonded to a wood or composite substrate and topped with a protective wear coating.

The paper used to make laminate products can be distinguished from traditional paper by a number of special features. Lamination paper is made from hardwoods with a low kappa rating, which means that the wood pulp has a low lignin count and is very bleachable. When pressed and dried to form lamination paper, this type of wood creates a very smooth, uniform finish. It is also very dense, which makes for a better finish and improved print quality.

Lamination paper comes in a variety of forms, including rolls and sheets. Manufacturers rely on rolls of this paper when producing sheets of laminate or laminate flooring. Individual sheets may be used for floor tiles or planks, or even to create smaller sections of laminate for countertop trim.

This paper often features a bright white finish, though black or brown shades are also available for darker prints. It comes in different grades, which represent the weight and quality of the paper. Heavy-weight lamination paper may measure 60 to 80 grams, while lightweight versions may measure 30 grams. The higher the grade, the more opaque the paper tends to be. Paper that is highly opaque helps to hide surface flaws in the composite substrate, and also results in a cleaner and more precise image quality.

After the paper has been printed with the desired finish, it must be topped with a coating material for protection. This coating generally consists of a resinous material, or polyurethane, which gives the paper a hard, durable finish. Many laminate products also rely on melamine coatings for their added hardness and strength.

Once lamination paper is printed and topped with a protective finish, it can be bonded to the substrate. This substrate may include plywood, composite sheet lumber, or even layers of resin-soaked kraft paper. The paper is often applied using a laminate machine, which uses heat and pressure to join the materials together. Special adhesives may also be added to ensure a secure bond.

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