Ten Technical Decorative Surfaces Terms You Need to Know

Every industry has its “lingo” and it is no different when it comes to decorative overlays. If you’ve scrolled through the Arclin website and come across terms that have left you a little puzzled, don’t worry. Here are our top ten TFL terms we think you should know!

  1. TFL – Thermally Fused Laminates. TFL is a durable, high-performing and consistent surface product that is less expensive than veneers and HPL (see below). TFL is made by fusing resin soaked decorative paper directly to a substrate. It is ideal for a wide variety of products and environments. TFL also complements HPL, and the same or compatible designs are typically available in both laminates. While veneers have been around since ancient Egyptian times, they certainly have come a long way.
  2. HPL – High Pressure Laminates. Similar to TFL, HPL also provide a durable surface overlay. However, HPL is traditionally used for extreme-traffic surfaces and are produced by saturating multiple layers of craft paper with phenolic resin. A layer of printed décor paper is placed on top of the multiple layers of kraft paper before pressing and fusing the paper with a substrate. 
  3. Overlay – a covering for a material’s surface. TFL and HPL are examples of decorative overlays.
  4. Substrate – refers to an underlying material on which paper or other materials are applied. In the decorative overlays industry, we may classify particleboard or plywood as substrates.
  5. Thermoset –  a material, commonly a resin or synthetic plastic, that hardens after the application of heat and pressure.
  6. Fidelity – the level of accuracy with which something is replicated. In the decorative overlays industry, this term may be used to describe how well TFL or other overlays mimic the look or texture of specific materials, like wood or marble.
  7. Veneer – a thin decorative layer of material applied to a substrate. Veneers can offer the look of highly sought after materials at a lower cost. Check out our post Alternative Building Materials That Create a Luxury Look Without a Luxe Price for a deeper look at this.
  8. Grain – the longitudinal arrangement or pattern of fibers in wood, paper, etc. TFL, especially textured TFL, can mimic the look of real wood grains.
  9. Sustainable – conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources. In construction, this means that steps have been taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the building or furniture while using materials that do not deplete natural resources.
  10. Low-Emission – Materials such as paint and adhesives contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOC’s unique properties allow the material to evaporate so paints dry and leave pigment behind, or adhesives dry and bond materials together. However, it is not recommended to be exposed to VOCs too often. Low-emission material, such as TFL, are designed to emit low or no VOCs — making for a very environmentally healthy application (also Shades of Green). Low-emission building material can help achieve LEED certification and are, in general, just healthier for the people around it!

Are there other technical terms in the world of TFL? Post a comment with your questions on our Facebook page.