Scientific research and technology have advanced in so many ways that equipment manufacturers have had their work cut out trying to keep up. The industry leader in phenolic resin countertop stepped up and developed new materials that can withstand extremely hazardous laboratory testing conditions.
Laboratory resin countertops are just one of the options among several countertop materials, and there are two types to choose from, epoxy and phenolic.
Resin is about the only thing they have in common because each has different purposes, advantages, and disadvantages. How do you know which of the surfaces is best for you? Read to help you make the right choice.
6 Factors to Look for in Resin Countertops
There are six primary factors you need to consider before you buy either of the lab resin countertops.
1. Chemical Resistance
According to an expert in the industry, in the 1980s, the number of chemical compounds could be counted in tens of thousands. Now, it is in the millions, and there’s a chance of seeing an increase to billions in another decade or two.
As a result, countertop manufacturers have to devise surface material that is resistant to current chemical compounds and foresee compounds that are in the future.
2. Abrasive Resistance
Some laboratories are heavier on their equipment than others, especially those that use incredibly high temperatures and corrosive chemicals, including acids.
3. Moisture Resistance
Liquids are used in just about every laboratory in the world. Work surfaces are spilled on, on a daily basis, with anything from purified water to hydrochloric acid. It’s essential that the countertop material isn’t porous or prone to stress fractures so that moisture can’t seep into the material and grow bacteria.
4. Heat Resistance
Many procedures either generate heat or use a heat source on lab benches. You need a countertop that will withstand heat. Products often contain information on the range of temperatures the material can handle and the maximum length of time the surface can be exposed to heat.
Laboratory countertops must be kept clean and sanitized permanently, so the material needs to withstand constant wiping with strong cleaning agents. Countertops that are moisture, chemical, and abrasive-resistant will stand up against cleaning.
Always buy the best you can afford. Remember, you get what you pay for, so a cheap countertop might not be resistant to any of the above. In that case, you’ll have to buy replacements regularly, which is clearly more expensive in the long run. Consider the countertop an investment and stretch your budget as far as it will go.
All About Epoxy Resin Countertops
Epoxy resin countertops are made from a mixture of resin, silica, a hardener, and fillers. The mix goes through a process of molding and oven-curing to become a solid, continuous product.
The epoxy resin is durable and non-porous. The standard color from the manufacturer is black, but other colors are available on request.
The material can withstand extreme conditions and is chemical heat resistant and highly moisture resistant.
The material is suitable for use in:
- Biological science and microbiological labs
- Pharmaceutical and molecular pathology labs
- Industrial testing facilities and applied science research labs
The surface tends to be used around sinks and areas where there is heavy moisture.
Epoxy Resin Advantages:
- Heavy duty and withstands impact and stress
- Versatility and flexibility
- Withstands continuous heat exposure over 350°F
- Highly resistant to fungi, bacteria, chemicals, moisture, heat, corrosion, and scratches.
- Easy maintenance and cleanability
- Flame retardant
- Cost-effective in the long run
Epoxy Resin Disadvantages:
- It’s not scratch-resistant
- Difficult to fabricate in the field
- Extremely heavy with expensive transport costs.
- Professional installation
- Not resistant to UV rays and direct sunlight for long periods
- Not suitable for residential usage
- Expensive with long lead times
Epoxy resin is the most expensive countertop material, but it is also the most durable and handles the most extreme conditions. The material is perfect for lab applications that rely heavily on open flames.
All About Phenolic Resin Countertops
Phenolic resin countertops are made by saturating layers of kraft paper with phenolic resin, which is then processed under extreme heat. The process results in composite panels or one solid, lightweight, and durable surface. The standard core color is black, but you can order a phenolic resin countertop in custom colors.
Phenolic resin is similar to plastic laminate material in that it’s a top-decorated surface with ⅛ inch thickness.
The material is highly chemical-resistant and is ideal for lab environments that use a lot of acidic reagents.
The material is suitable for use in:
- Biological and microbiological labs
- Chemical and research and development labs
- Radiology and hematology labs
Phenolic Resin Advantages:
- Lightweight and durable, for moderate duty only
- Highly resistant to moisture, bacteria, chemicals, corrosion, fungus, oil, and scratches
- Abrasion resistant and withstands impact and stress fractures
- Easy to fabricate in the field
- More affordable than epoxy and with shorter lead times
One big advantage that phenolic resin has over epoxy is availability. Currently, there are very few epoxy resin manufacturers, which is a big factor in price, and phenolic resin is far more accessible.
Phenolic Resin Disadvantages:
- Not heat-resistant to temperatures above 350°F
- Can’t withstand UV rays and direct sunlight for long periods
- Not flame retardant (no open flames)
Phenolic resin is perfect for labs that require high chemical resistance. The countertops are the second cheapest, with only high-pressure laminate being cheaper.
Where to Get the Best Phenolic and Epoxy Resin Countertops
As is evident, choosing which laboratory resin countertops best suits your situation is almost a science itself. There isn’t anyone better than ResinTops to ensure you make the correct decision.
We have over 30 years of design experience in the industry. To discuss how we can help you, contact us at 800-476-5228 at ResinTops.net