What Lies Beneath

The overlay is just the surface of a conform panel 

To get a quality conform panel, you have to start with a quality overlay. But, says Ken Pratt, Operations Manager of Olympic Panel Products, “if you put a great quality overlay on a poor quality panel, you’re not going to get the performance you want.”

A lot of different factors affect a panel’s quality, Pratt says, starting with the veneer.  “A quality veneer should have the right thickness and smoothness and be dried to the right moisture content.”

“The type of adhesive you use and the average glue bond make a big difference in how the blackjack online panel will perform in the field,” Pratt details. “Then there’s process control on the hot press. All of those elements have to be considered and addressed to make a good panel.”

Pratt advises panel purchasers “Go to the mill. If I were a contractor, I’d be asking my supplier if there were someone at the plant to provide technical support and answer questions. That’s critical.”

Good advice can also help reduce costs. “Olympic makes 10 different conform panels with nine different overlays and four species of wood. A concrete contractor may order Multi-pour, Classic, Barrier Film and High Flow panels for a job. But with some guidance, that contractor may discover that Classic and High Flow panels alone will do the job. That can save a lot of money and deliver a quality product.”

DRILLING DOWN: Judging a conform panel

  • Overlay should provide the right finish, stand up to the concrete mix
  • Veneer should be smooth and dried to less than 8% moisture content
  • Check veneer thickness and size of deficits
  • Glue bond should be 90% or more
  • Keys to a good bond: intimate contact, time and heat
  • Check patch material, sanding, cleanliness
  • All edges should be sealed

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