What is Formica?

What is a Formica table?

One of the staples of a 1950s kitchen is the famous Formica Table Top.  Formica Laminate is a composite material invented by Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1912. The word Formica refers to the company's heat-resistant, wipe-clean laminate of paper or textile with melamine resin.  Formica is the brand name and one of the world's largest manufacturers of HPL.  HPL also known as high pressure laminate is a thin engineered surface that can be laminated and used in furniture, table tops, counter stops, walls, floors, and many other residential and commercial uses.  Formica was a very popular material for counter tops and table tops in the 1950's.  It is still popular for those products today.  It is an ideal surface for homes and restaurants due to its heat resistance and scratch resistance.  The retro laminate tables that we make are built to last for decades and decades.  A formica surface glued properly and dried properly can last forever.

The word Formica is kind of like the word Kleenex.  Kleenex is such a common brand name that we use it instead of the word tissues.  The same is for Formica.  There are actually several manufacturers that make high pressure laminates.  We work with another company called Wilsonart.  Although we don't work with them, we are also familiar with Pionite.  Formica has become the generic name that most people use for high pressure laminate surfaces.

Formica has been around for many years and may have been the material used on your grandma's kitchen counters or as the surface of her kitchen table.  When people are thinking about their vintage kitchen tables from the 1950s they are probably picturing a Formica laminate top with a grooved metal aluminum edge and metal hair pin legs.  This was one of the most popular styles and was available in many catalogs from companies like Sears and Woolworth's.

When looking for a brand new retro style kitchen table or restaurant table you want to be sure that the surface is made of HPL.  Formica was the best in the 50s and they are still the best.  Make sure you know who makes your laminate or you will have problems with it scratching and peeling.

All of the retro tables that we manufacture and/or distribute are made with the highest quality high pressure laminates.  They are made with the highest quality aluminum edge and American made wood.

We can make tables using any pattern you can find on Formica's website.  Whether you are in the market for 100 tables or just need one for your kitchen, we can help you get the exact commercial quality restaurant table that you need.

In addition to Formica, there are several other major manufacturers who make similar types of substrates.  The top competitors are:

  • Arborite, a similar and also popular paper-melamine composite made in the 1940s in Canada.
  • Micarta, which is the trade name for Westinghouse decorative laminates is now produced by Norplex-Micarta.
  • Wilsonart plastic laminate is a line of laminates similar to Formica.  This is the supplier we typically use for custom logo laminates
  • Laminates similar to Formica, but with top surface made of multilaminar veneer and sprayed with resin. 
  • Consoweld, a similar twentieth century product manufactured by Consolidated Paper of Wisconsin.

We use primarily Wilsonart and Formica.  We can make tables in any of the Formica patterns.  If you want to create a new custom pattern from scratch, we can do that too.  Wilsonart is our main supplier for custom imprinted table tops.  Formica has been a staple in the American home for decades.  It is still used today for laminate counter tops and laminate tables.  If applied properly with contact glue, the laminate can last for decades and decades.  I am sure you have been in many homes that have 50 year old Formica counter tops.  Did you notice how they still look perfect after years of heavy use, cutting, and hot dishes?  There is something about that Formica laminate that looks great for years and years.  We aren't sure how they do it, but it works and we love making tables out of it.

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