Understanding Impact Resistance in HPL and TFL Laminates

HPL Impact test
When it comes to selecting the right materials for your interiors, understanding the durability and impact resistance of various laminates is crucial. At Stevenswood, we know that the choice between High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) and Thermally Fused Laminate (TFL) can be a pivotal decision for your projects.

This blog post will delve into the impact resistance of HPL and TFL, helping you make informed decisions for your needs.

What is Impact Resistance?

Impact resistance refers to a material’s ability to withstand mechanical shocks or impacts without being damaged. For laminates, this means maintaining surface integrity and appearance when subjected to everyday wear and tear, accidental bumps, or intentional hits.

High-Pressure Laminate (HPL)

Composition and Manufacturing Process:

HPL is made by layering multiple sheets of kraft paper impregnated with phenolic resin, topped with a decorative layer and a protective overlay, all bonded together under high heat and pressure. This process results in a dense, durable surface.


HPL layers of kraft paper with a protective layer on top

Impact Resistance of HPL:

HPL is renowned for its superior impact resistance. The multi-layer construction and the use of phenolic resin create a tough, resilient surface. This makes HPL an excellent choice for high-traffic areas and commercial environments where surfaces are frequently exposed to heavy use and potential impacts.

ISO 4586 Standard (International)

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides the ISO 4586 standard, which is globally recognized for high-pressure decorative laminates. This standard includes a similar impact resistance test:

  • Test Method: A steel ball is dropped onto the HPL surface from a specified height.
  • Ball Specifications: A steel ball with a diameter of 25.4 mm (1 inch) and a mass of 224 grams (7.9 ounces).
  • Drop Heights: Typically, heights range from 300 mm to 600 mm (approximately 12 inches to 24 inches).
  • Acceptance Criteria: The laminate should not show visible cracks or significant damage affecting its performance.


  • Countertops
  • Desks and work surfaces
  • Wall panels



Thermally Fused Laminate (TFL)

Composition and Manufacturing Process:

TFL is made by fusing a decorative layer directly to a substrate, typically particleboard or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) using heat and pressure.
Unlike HPL, TFL does not have multiple layers of kraft paper, which makes it thinner and more flexible.

Impact Resistance of TFL:

While TFL is also durable, it generally offers less impact resistance compared to HPL. The direct bonding process and the thinner composition mean that TFL can be more susceptible to dents and scratches under heavy impact. However, TFL is still suitable for many applications, especially in environments where extreme durability is not the primary concern.

CPA 3-08 (Composite Panel Association) The CPA 3-08 standard outlines the performance and testing requirements for TFL panels. Similar to HPL standards, it includes an impact resistance test, though the parameters can differ.

Test Method:


  • Steel Ball Drop Test: Like HPL, TFL panels are tested using a steel ball drop method, but the specific details such as ball weight, diameter, and drop height might be adjusted to suit the inherent properties of TFL.

Typical Test Specifications:


  • Ball Specifications: A steel ball with a diameter of around 25.4 mm (1 inch) and a weight of approximately 224 grams (7.9 ounces).
  • Drop Heights: The heights from which the ball is dropped can vary but often range from 300 mm to 600 mm (approximately 12 inches to 24 inches).
  • Acceptance Criteria: The TFL panel passes the test if it shows no visible cracks or damage that would impair its appearance or functionality.



  • Cabinet doors
  • Closet systems
  • Office furniture
  • Low-traffic countertops

Light Oak Woodgrains

Comparing HPL and TFL Impact Resistance

  • Durability: HPL tends to be more robust due to its thicker construction and high-pressure manufacturing process. It is better suited for areas where high impact resistance is required such as an Elevator or Reception Desk. TFL, while durable, is more appropriate for applications where the likelihood of severe impacts is lower such as Kitchen cabinets or an Office Desk.
  • Cost: TFL is typically more cost-effective than HPL, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious projects. However, the trade-off comes in the form of slightly lower impact resistance.
  • Aesthetic Versatility: Both HPL and TFL offer a wide range of designs, colors, and textures, allowing for creative and flexible interior designs. However, HPL’s additional layers allow for deeper textures and more intricate designs.


Making the Right Choice

When deciding between HPL and TFL, consider the specific needs of your project:

  • High-Traffic Areas: Opt for HPL to ensure long-lasting durability and superior impact resistance.
  • Budget-Friendly Solutions: Choose TFL for cost-effective yet aesthetically pleasing applications where extreme durability is not crucial.
  • Design Flexibility: Both HPL and TFL provide extensive design options, but HPL offers deeper textures and more complex patterns.



At Stevenswood, we are committed to providing high-quality TFL, HPL and matching Edge Banding that meet your project requirements. Understanding the impact resistance of HPL and TFL will help you choose the best material for your application, ensuring durability, aesthetics, and value.

For more information on our range of HPL and TFL products, or to discuss your specific needs, please contact our team today. We’re here to help you make the best choice for your next project.

You can also visit out Products & Colors page to view our TFL and HPL options as well as a variety of other products for indoor and outdoor projects.

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