Maintaining Plastic Laminate
Nearly every product used in an interior can be made of plastic. Plastic products are inexpensive and durable. Not only does plastic mimic natural products but it is often appreciated aesthetically for its characteristically bright colors and functionality and for the ability to form plastic into nearly any shape. There are numerous types of plastics with thousands of variations. Because of the low cost and extreme durability of most plastic products, they can be considered an option for nearly any component of an interior.
On the other hand, plastics have a negative impact on the environment. Plastic products take centuries to degrade, and current recycling options only postpone the inevitable trip to the landfill. In addition, most plastics are made of nonrenewable resources, and some components of plastics can leach into air or water and cause illnesses, including cancer. Manufacturers are working to find alternatives to the components of plastics that are health risks, as well as to develop plastics made of recycled, renewable, and/or biodegradable materials.
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A designer must consider both the negative and the positive aspects of plastic when choosing products to finish an interior. Interiors that require durability, combined with low cost and ease of maintenance, may be appropriate applications for plastic products. Products made of plastic may be ideal for applications that
Acrylic, or polymethyl methacrylate, is a clear, hard plastic that includes the tradenames Perspex, Lucite, and Plexiglas. It is primarily used to construct furniture and as a substitute for glass.
Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is a plastic that combines three polymers. It is a copolymer used for plumbing pipes and furniture components.
Bakelite was the first marketed plastic that could be considered a complete synthetic, developed by Leo Hendrik Baekeland in the 1920s.
Biocides and fungicides are added to vinyl wallcovering to aid in resisting mold, mildew, and fungus.
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that degrade when exposed to oxygen—a process that takes centuries for nonbiodegrad-able plastics. 207