Decipher the terms BELOW THE SURFACE of composite panels and decorative surfaces.

2D Laminate

is any decorative film flexible enough to laminate in two dimensions allowing for contoured edges-It can be a solid color or printed with a décor pattern.

  • 2DL

walls and ceilings of RVs; cabinetry; commercial flooring; trim; crown mouldings

3D Laminate

is a decorative film that can be formed with seamless edges and contoured over a three-dimensional substrate, generally MDF or particleboard-Décor options include solid colors, printed patterns, stone and woodgrain.

  • 3DL
  • rigid thermoformable foils (RTF)
  • vinyl films

retail store fixtures; cabinetry, displays; RV tables & countertops


are applied to substrates in liquid or powder form to create wood grain patterns, add color and finishes or used as a clear, protective topcoat.

  • liquid coating
  • painted MDF
  • powder coating

finishing cabinets and furniture; exterior siding; trim; flooring; fixtures

Decorative Papers & Foils

are paper-based decorative surfaces designed to enhance the realism of woodgrain and natural patterns that include gloss and matte embossing. These laminates are distinguishable by the grammage (weight) of the paper with foils being a higher grammage.

  • finished foils
  • foils
  • impregnated papers
  • Light Basis Weight Papers (LBWP)
  • low basis weight papers

cabinetry; store fixtures; paneling; shelving; closet systems; home office furniture

Engineered Wood Siding & Trim

a wood-based composite panel that has been designed and manufactured to perform in interior and exterior exposure applications with the appearance of traditional wood. EWST is engineered with enhanced resistance to moisture, dimensional stability and protection against fungal decay and termites.

  • engineered wood siding
  • engineered wood trim
  • EWST

siding; interior trim; exterior trim


a wood-based composite panel made from residual wood fiber and is engineered for each application, resulting in less expensive product solutions. Hardboard has a uniform thickness, density and appearance with no grain. It resists marring, scuffing and abrasion, as well as changes in temperature and humidity.

  • pegboard
  • slatwall
  • slotwall

furniture components; wall paneling; moulded door skins; underlayment; perforated boards

High Pressure Laminate

is a decorative surface known for its durability with special performance properties including chemical, fire and wear resistances. It can be postformed around curved edges and is laminated to a panel, primarily particleboard and MDF.

  • HPL

cabinetry; flooring; wall treatments; desktops; countertops; retail casework; office furniture; hospitality; educational facilities

Medium Density Fiberboard

is a wood-based composite panel with a flat, smooth, uniform, dense surface free of knots and grain patterns. It is made with recycled/recovered wood materials sourced from sustainable forests. The homogeneous density profile of these panels allows intricate and precise machining and finishing techniques.

  • fiberboard
  • high density fiberboard (HDF)
  • MDF
  • Medium-density fiberboard
  • thin MDF

office and residential furniture; kitchen cabinets; door parts; mouldings; laminate flooring


is made with recycled/recovered wood materials sourced from sustainable forests. The additives added to this wood-based composite panel product during the manufacturing process impart specific performance enhancements, including increased fire retardancy and moisture resistance.

  • (LDF)
  • low density fiberboard
  • PB

office and residential furniture; countertops; kitchen cabinets; shelving; store fixture; underlayment; door core; stair treads

Thermally Fused Laminate

is a decorative surface manufactured with deep texture and enhanced visual and performance characteristics. It is fused directly to a substrate, primarily MDF and particleboard making it a fused finished decorative panel ready for finished products.

  • low pressure laminate (LP)
  • melamine
  • textured melamine
  • TFL

furniture; cabinetry; closet systems; laminate flooring; fixtures

Recommended Content

Buyers Guide

CPA’s annual Buyers Guide is now available! This year, CPA transformed the Guide into the Design Portfolio in partnership with the Woodworking Network.

ECC Sustainability

Our commitment to environmental stewardship applies to indoor environments as well as to the great outdoors. The Eco-Certified Composite (ECC) standard assesses the life cycle & carbon footprint of composite wood panels.


The Composite Panel Association offers educational outreach to a variety of audiences including architects, designers, and specifiers, processors, downstream users, distributors and consumers.

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