Balanced laminate construction refers to the balancing—or “counter-balancing—of a laminate assembly that equalizes the forces acting on both faces of the substrate to prevent warping, buckling, or delamination.
Laminate—which is made of layers of Kraft paper and resin—is not sturdy enough to support itself and so must be adhered or mechanically restrained to a substrate – typically MDF, particleboard, or plywood. Laminates and other wood products are susceptible to dimensional changes, but often respond to relative humidity changes differently. When coupled, the laminate and substrate may expand or contract at different rates, resulting in distortion of the laminate assembly. This might depend on the type of laminate or substrate, the installation and bonding methods used, and other site-specific factors.
To balance a laminate assembly, it is important to acclimate the materials to the temperature and humidity of the installation site prior to assembly. Utilize the same laminate on either side of the substrate, unless instructed otherwise by the laminate manufacturer; attach using the same adhesive; and always sand in the same direction on each face. Thick laminates are more rigid and less likely to bend, whereas wider and longer runs tend to have higher rates of warpage. An unbalanced laminate assembly is one that does not have a laminate backer applied to the underside of the substrate.