While granite and engineered stone kitchen countertops are perceived as opulent and nearly indestructible, they also come with a hefty price tag. Thankfully, high-pressure laminates (HPL) and melamine-faced boards (MFB) have come a long way since they were first popularised in the 1950s and the 1960s. Today’s offerings are far more durable and the designs more realistic and luxurious than the products available previously.

“Kitchen countertops tend to take a beating and can often show age more quickly than other surfaces around the home,” says Jason Wells, Brand & Marketing at PG Bison. “People are understandably cautious when choosing their worktops as these surfaces need to stand the test of time and be moisture, scuff- and germ-resistant. But many people aren’t aware of the innovations and technologies that have been developed in recent years in wood-based panel products.”

With improvements in digital scanning and printing, as well as in manufacturing, the designs and colours available in HPL and MFB boards have become ultra-realistic, with options that capture the look of marble, granite, stone and timber, as well as solid colours, in a diverse range to suit every taste.

However, Wells says that often, the biggest concern that people have is moisture resistance. “Many of us have seen chipped and swollen worktops in older kitchens,” he says. “But, with products like PG Bison’s Formica LifeSeal Worktops, it all comes down to correct installation to ensure minimal risk of swelling caused by water penetration. Plus, our proprietary LifeSeal strip, supplied on all Formica LifeSeal Worktops products, stops water that has trickled down the front edge of the counter, from penetrating the worktop core from the underside. This gives you an extra layer of protection where it’s needed most.”

Proper protection

To ensure that no water seeps through any gaps (like where the worktop meets the wall; or between butt joints and inside the cut-outs for sinks and stove tops), Well says a water sealant (such as marine varnish or enamel paint) should be applied in a dabbing motion to the exposed core material of the worktop to create a proper seal.

“Applying two coats of the sealant, with appropriate drying time in between, effectively stops water ingress,” he says. “If you seal all exposed edges, your countertops should last for decades. To keep them in tip-top shape, regularly wipe down surfaces with a wet cloth and mild soap. There’s no need to reseal or polish these countertops, especially since furniture polish can leave a sticky residue. These worktops are designed to be low-maintenance.”

Hygienic for high-traffic surfaces

Wells says that another little-known fact is that laminate surfaces are one of only four worksurfaces permitted in clinical environments because of their hygiene properties, which makes them perfect for kitchens too. “Thanks to the laminate manufacturing process, these products have what’s called a closed surface. This means there are no microscopic openings in the surface where germs can take up residence, making it the perfect solution for healthy, germ-free kitchens.”

In 2022, popular options in PG Bison’s Formica LifeSeal Worktops range include Woodland Fusion, Saxon Oak or Brooklyn Loft in the textured range; or Kristall, Catalan, Rosetta, Aquila or Tucana in the gloss range.

“Formica LifeSeal Worktops are also locally manufactured and therefore positively contribute to the South African economy. In addition, local production helps to manage the price point and ensure the product is readily available from all leading board retailers,” Wells concludes. “You get a stylish, international look without needing to pay heavy import duties and long-distance transport costs.”

For more information, visit the PG Bison website: https://pgbison.co.za/

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