Global demand for decorative laminates is expected to rise 5.6% per year to 10.7 billion sq m in 2018, valued at $40.8 billion, according to a recent study from The Freedonia Group Inc. Demand will benefit from expected increases in the manufacture of products such as cabinets, ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture, and flooring, which are often made from engineered wood and laminated. Gains will also be driven by increased market penetration at the expense of other surfacing materials (e.g., wood veneer and paint) due to cost and performance benefits. Furniture and cabinets were the largest markets for decorative laminates in 2013, accounting for nearly 70% of total demand.

The Asia-Pacific region was the largest market for decorative laminates in 2013, with nearly 50% of the global total. “The region benefits from its leading position in engineered wood production, particularly particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which are often given a laminate layer at the point of production,” said analyst Pam Safarek.

Advances for laminates will reportedly be propelled by the continuing development of the large Chinese market, which alone accounted for 31% of global demand in 2013. China is the world’s largest producer of RTA furniture and laminate flooring. Manufacturing capacity for laminated boards continues to expand in China. India is expected to post the most rapid gains in laminate demand worldwide through 2018. The country continues to rapidly develop its manufacturing sector, including cabinets and RTA furniture, and to increase its capacity to produce particleboard and MDF as a way to more efficiently use local wood resources. 

Well-established decorative laminate industries are found in Western Europe and the U.S., where engineered wood and paper industries are highly developed. Despite an ongoing shift in production of many laminated engineered wood products toward China, India, and other developing areas, demand for laminates in Western Europe is still significant, as the region maintains large RTA furniture and laminate flooring industries. Germany, France, and Sweden are regional leaders in the production of RTA furniture. The U.S. also maintains significant production capacity for RTA furniture, cabinets and laminate flooring.

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