Balanced Construction

What is Balanced Construction?

Why is it essential to specify for your casework project.

There are several components and standards that make up solid casework construction and they are important to have on your list as you create the specifications for your project. 

At first glance, balanced construction is invisible when looking at a laminate cabinet.

If it’s not visible, then why worry about it? Because you will experience the difference of a balanced vs. unbalanced construction over time when humidity and temperature in the room change.

What is balanced construction exactly? Let’s take a look at the components that make up a laminate panel:

The core of a laminate panel is typically a particleboard, plywood, or MDF substrate. The decorative laminate faces are applied to the front and back of the core. According to the Architectural Woodwork Standards, we achieve balanced construction when the layers of the final panel are symmetrical from the center line and use materials on either side that contract or expand or are moisture permeable at the same rate.

Let’s take a look at one example of the different layers that can make up a laminated panel:

Balanced Construction

Image 1 shows a panel faced with High-Pressure Laminate on both sides. The image clearly shows the many layers that make up HPL, and it shows the symmetry with the same amount of layers on both sides.

Image 2 shows an unbalanced panel with HPL on one side and Thermofused Laminate (TFL) on the other side.

In this case, it is easy to see why the thicker HPL side would have more ‘pull’ as the two sides expand and contract differently. The result is a distorted, warped panel.

Laminate warping is particularly noticeable with cabinet doors [Image 3]. Especially on longer panels for tall cabinets, it doesn’t take much distortion for the cabinet door to not close properly and show a considerable gap.

When we work with neutral, non-decorative interior colors, balanced construction is achieved by applying Cabinet Liner to the inside. With Cabinet Liner, we avoid the more costly decorative print of the laminate but still maintain the multi-layer material that ensures both sides contract and expand at the same rate. (For more in-depth information on the different laminates, we recommend the Case Systems Ultimate Laminate Guide.

An unbalanced cabinet is cheaper to construct than a cabinet built according to the balanced construction guidelines. It might be tempting for some to cut corners and skip this critical quality standard that is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of warping.

When specifying a laminate casework project, make sure to require balanced construction from a trusted supplier. This way, you can be sure your casework project will look as good in ten years as it did on day one.

Warped cabinet door

Download our Casework Construction Specification!