What Lab Bench Top Material Should You Choose?

When choosing lab benches for your lab it is vital that you pick the right material. The material you choose will need to withstand the types of experiments and research happening in your lab and account for chemical and bacteria use, heavy equipment, and any liquid use.

In this article, we set out the different types of materials, such as butcher block and stainless steel, that are best for lab benches and work surfaces, how each may benefit your workspace, and other factors you should take into consideration.

Types of Materials

To pick the right lab bench for your lab, you should first know all about the different varieties of material available and the advantages and disadvantages they each have.

Here are the main types of materials you will encounter when buying lab furniture.

High-Pressure Laminate

This is a plastic laminate that has been enhanced and greatly strengthened. It can be further treated to withstand a variety of things, such as exposure to chemicals, fire, and everyday wear and tear. Plastic laminate is a good choice for countertops because it can be formed around curves in the countertops, making the entire surface durable and fire-resistant. However, it is not chemical resistant.

High-pressure laminate is made when many layers of kraft paper are soaked with phenolic resin. For aesthetic purposes, a layer of decorative paper in different colors is then placed on the bench tops and countertops and then the entire thing is pressed together and fused with high pressure and heat.

Due to the phenolic resin finish, thermosetting results in an extremely durable, solid single piece of plastic laminate countertop material.

You will often find this material used for shelves, lab tables, and bench tops throughout the industry.

Epoxy Resin:

Epoxy resin is a great material for many types of lab furniture because of its durable nature that can withstand high temperatures, it is also known for its moisture resistance and chemical resistance qualities. Many people also choose epoxy resin countertops because they are easy to clean and non-porous which makes them resistant to corrosion.

Epoxy resin countertops are a perfect option for any research and lab facilities that use corrosive chemicals or a high level of moisture. Our epoxy resin product can be custom made to fit your specific needs, such as dimensions, colors, height, and inclusion of lab sinks.

Butcher Block:

Out of the countertop materials discussed here, butcher block is one of the weakest and should be used for general area work or in a high school environment where less dangerous lab applications will be undertaken.

A butcher block is made from a laminated northern hard rock maple wood core that is treated with DURAKRYL 102® solution. This finish of the butcher block countertop adds the chemical resistance feature.

Butcher block wood is a good option in an industrial space where heavy-duty machinery is in use. If you use butcher block in your workspace, it will also be a good solid surface to use for withstanding everyday impact and will not easily dent or scratch.

However, unlike the other countertop materials in this list, butcher block is made mostly from wood and therefore lacks strong chemical resistance and heat resistance. It is also very cost-effective and can be a good option for areas in the lab that are not exposed to heat or chemicals, such as office desks or spaces designated for analysis.

Phenolic Resin:

Similar to epoxy resin, phenolic resin is made when a base layer, such as fiberglass or paper is saturated with phenolic resin and thermoset. The resulting products are a great option for laboratory needs because of the high level of heat resistance and chemical resistance.

In fact, the heat resistance in the resin finish means it can withstand temperatures up to 570-662°F. This makes it an excellent choice for laboratory countertops and any benchtop spaces around labs.

Using phenolic resin in your labs can have a great impact on performance and productivity in the lab because the surface will remain free of abrasions and damage from chemical or heat exposure.

There are also customization options available for this material and it can be used for a variety of surface areas, including light-duty lab work, toilet partitions, and casework.

Stainless Steel:

There is a reason you see so much lab furniture made from stainless steel. From stainless steel cabinets to laboratory countertops and fume hoods, stainless steel is likely already found throughout your laboratory. This is because of the highly durable nature of stainless steel that ensures moisture resistance, heat resistance, scratch resistance, and chemical resistance.

Stainless steel products are very cost-effective and highly customizable. That allows for a huge amount of variety in your laboratory space. You can have custom-fit stainless steel countertops that fit perfectly around your laboratory equipment and space requirements.

Stainless steel countertops and surfaces are easy to clean and sterilize, and look very sleek throughout all areas of your laboratory. A stainless steel countertop will also withstand the impact of heavy objects since it is very difficult to dent.

The long term performance of stainless steel in labs is very good. It is highly durable and its resistance to many elements makes it a highly desirable option for most labs.

Stainless steel can be used throughout lab areas, including on laboratory workbench tops, countertops, and more specialized equipment such as fume hood decks.

High-Density Polyethylene:

Lastly, high-density polyethylene is one of the most cost-effective options. However, unlike stainless steel, it does not have moisture resistance, chemical resistance, or heat resistance feature. This is because it is a relatively soft material so chemical elements and heat have a negative impact on its surface.

On the other hand, it is resistant to some substances such as mold and rotting and, due to its non-porous surface, it very easy to clean.

Factors to Consider

When it comes to choosing the right material for your laboratory countertops and lab benches, there are some factors you should consider.

  • Laboratory design. Consider your laboratory design throughout the areas of your laboratory before you purchase a lab bench. This will help you understand the spatial needs of the areas and what type of work is happening in each space. If chemical work is happening in one room, it is imperative that all surfaces have chemical resistance and that each countertop is easily cleaned. A laminate, for example, is unlikely to have enough heat resistance or chemical resistance to be a good choice for this type of environment. Butcher block will also be the completely wrong choice for any laboratory using corrosive chemicals.
  • Equipment needs. If your laboratory uses fume hoods, it is likely that you will choose stainless steel for not only the fume hoods, but for other spaces in the laboratory as well, such as countertops, drying racks, and casework.
  • Durability. You will need to choose the material that will be most durable for the type of research being carried out in your lab. The core concern here is the heat resistance, chemical resistance, or moisture resistance of each material. The impact these elements have on any surface material at labs can affect the material’s durability and longevity, and thereby increase the cost over time if the incorrect material is initially chosen.


Choose the Right Lab Furniture Manufacturer

It is also imperative that you choose a laboratory furniture manufacturer that understands not only furniture systems but also the specific needs of your labs.

We are aware of cost concerns and the nuanced pros and cons of each material type. We also understand how important it is that you choose the right material for your lab benches and countertops to ensure your lab surfaces can handle everything they need to, from chemical resistance to easy-to-clean laminate tops.

Our team is also more than able to offer help and guidance in choosing the right material for your lab tables and benches.

From butcher block and phenolic resin to the best in stainless steel, we offer only the most modern lab solutions.

For more information on materials for your labs and for help designing your lab furniture, contact us at LabTech Supply Company today.

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