Modern buildings and homes use various types of decorative wall panels to cover hallways, serve as feature walls, section rooms and double as wall art. There are hundreds of products to choose from, covering a wide range of colours, finishes, textures, and patterns. A current favourite among interior designers and homeowners are 3-dimensional decorative wall panels which instantly add elegance and dramatic looks to any area. Not all wall panels, however, are made alike and the finer details surrounding the manufacturing process can result in more or less resistant properties, flexibility and durability.
Basic process behind decorative wall panels:
Gypsum cement wall panels are made from mixing acrylic resin with alpha plaster (gypsum cement) and puring the mix into silicone moulds to cure. To make the panel more durable it is reinforced with one or two layers of fibreglass.
Wall panels are often made of cellulose material or other resin such as PVC. Cellulose material is obtained by shredding or grinding wood fibres to a fine pulp. Additives and fillers are mixed with the wood fibres and then dewatered so that they can be shaped into plane sheets. The sheets are compressed further and left to harden through air-curing or under specific pressure, temperature and humidity conditions. Applying heat and pressure simultaneously allows the dried fibres to take on a desired form.
Variations in thickness and strength can be achieved through additional processes such as infusing sheets with resins so that they harden and combine with other MDF panels or other raw core material without the need for additional adhesives. Multiple layers of the same material may be sandwiched between sheets of some protective material.
The compression process uses pressure plates which compress the resin and simultaneously give the mixture its structure. The resulting product is one that is scratch resistant, impact resistant, and abrasion resistant. Unlike timber materials, the boards which comprise decorative wall panels have flame retardant properties.
Environmentally conscious consumers may also find green products among the choices of wall panels. The green products rely on the natural adhesive properties of the cellulose fibres obtained from wood raw materials, instead of adding bonding agents. Heat and pressure activates the bonding action of the natural lignin in the wood fibres.
Depending on the intended use of the panel, special coatings such as UV resins, anti-bacterial agents and other solutions may be added to create a surface which is receptive to printing and images. Laminating films may be applied for added protection.
Heat and compression are important steps in the manufacturing process and the right equipment can provide the right pressure and temperature needed for decorative wall panels to gain their desired texture and strength. How wall panels are manufactured impact design, durability and other properties. Prospective buyers are advised to inquire about the manufacturing process along with other important factors such as design choices, colours, and costs.