Overlays and Veneers Information

Overlays, veneers and surfacing materials are bonded to a surface to impart a decorative finish or graphical pattern. There are many different types of products. Overlay laminates are resin-saturated papers that are used to create panels or laminated boards with water proof and non-stick properties. These laminated products are used to make concrete forms, countertops, signs, shelving, staging and pallets. Decorative overlays consist of a resin-saturated paper with a graphic design or printed image. Veneer is a thin layer of wood that is bonded adhesively to a less expensive wood core to provide a better surface quality. Surface materials for overlays, veneers and surfacing materials may include metal foils, embossed foils, foil laminates, flocked films and plastic films.

Core Materials

Overlays, veneers and surfacing materials are laminated or adhesively-bonded to a variety of core materials, including foam, plastic, and wood. Wood products such as particle board, plywood and orientated strand board (OSB) are common core materials. Some overlay suppliers describe laminated panels or laminates as surfacing materials because these products can be used as coverings or surfaces for floors, walls, countertops and tabletops. As a rule, the selection of overlays, veneers and surfacing materials should consider both application requirements and product specifications.


Overlays, veneers and surfacing materials that are designed for foam cores may use adhesives that are specially-formulated for specific types of foams and substrates. For example, acrylic adhesives can be used to bond urethane foams, but provide only fair joining performance with ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) foams. Choices for foam compatibility include expanded polyethylene (EPE) foam, expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam, expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foams, and polyurethane foam. Overlays, veneers and surfacing materials that bond to specialized or proprietary foams such as SYTROFOAM® and Neoprene® (DuPont), or Mincell® (Lydall, Inc.) are also available. 

Carrier or Backing

The carrier or backing material for overlays, veneers and surfacing materials is a relatively thin, flexible material to which the adhesive is applied. Choices include acrylic or acrylate, epoxy, felt, fiberglass, fluropolymer, metal foil or sheet, paper, polyester, polyethylene teraphthalate (PET), polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), rubber, silicone, and urethane. Overlays, veneers and surfacing materials with polyethylene backing typically use high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW). Proprietary polyimide films such as Kapton® (DuPont Teijin Films) may also be available. Choices for release or liner material include paper, film, board, fluropolymer, glassine, silicone, and wax. Clay-coated, polycoated, and differentially-coated overlays, veneers and surfacing materials are also available.