How to choose tabletop for height adjustable desks

Sometimes the height adjustable desk is not with tabetop when sourcing from factory directly.  Office furniture distributors either sourcing height-adjustable desk tabletop locally or make tabletop themselves.I always got clients asking me how to choose tabletop for height adjustable desks, as there are very different type material, finishing and price ranged widely. In this article I will explain some of the most common material and finshing for tabeltop use.

Most common tabletop for height adjustable desks – materials


  • It is used in light weight furniture such as shoe racks, portable furniture, etc. where heavy loads are not applied.  — Ikea wood panel for height adjustable desk tabletop is mainly this type.
  • It is used in modular office furniture, children furniture, computer tables, and wardrobes in areas where they are not in contact with moisture.
  • It can be used as shutters for various storage units, as laminated particle boards.
  • It is also used as underlayment, flooring, wall paneling, and partitioning.

MDF: Medium Density Fiberboard

  • It is mostly used for making furniture, cabinets, and shelves in storage units. They are extensively used in decorative wall cladding and embossed jalis.
  • Transparent partitions are also made by carving MDF board sheets to give a contemporary or traditional look.

HDF: High-Density Fiberboard

  • HDF is preferred for furniture where heavy traffic is expected, such as in hotels, cinemas, government offices etc.
  • It is also available in the perforated form, which is used for hanging various tools of the workshops.
  • As, it is more resistant to moisture, it is used as a core material for laminate flooring.

Strength comparison


HDF is the strongest amongst fiberboards.


MDF has less strength as compared to HDF, but is stronger than particle board.

Particle Board

Particle Board is the weakest form of engineered board.


Price wise, PB is the cheapest, while HDF is the most expensive one.  For normal office use tabletop MDF is the most quality and value choice.


Laminate, Veneer, Melamine are all related to the finishing. Veneer is more natural looking and is the finest, Melamine is the most economic solution.


A thin layer of hardwood that is bonded to a less expensive surface below. It’s known to be the finest expression of wood in the commercial market, and is a natural product. The manufacturing process usually involves selecting the type of lumbar, then cutting or ‘peeling’ it in a particular manner. The direction and mechanism with which it is peeled gives the veneer surface it’s characteristic grain and texture. Veneer comes from trees, and trees are natural, hence the grain and texture being unique. Using veneer is ecologically and economically advantages as you get more out of a single log when cut in sheets, as opposed to solid wood.

Owing to origin and manufacturing process, it’s understandable why veneer is more expensive than both melamine and laminate. The color is also specific to the type of tree, but can be stained to achieve non-natural colors. It allows designs and arrangements of the wood that are not possible with solid wood or laminates.


When sheets of paper, mostly kraft paper soaked in plastic resin is placed under 1400 psi on a substrate, the resulting product is laminate or HPL – High Pressure Laminate. It’s a more complex process involving 4 stages – soaking sheets in resin, drying, stacking them over in a decorative manner in layer and finally thermosetting. This newly formed layer of laminate is combined with a decorative film layer then attached to a wooden substrate.

While laminate can be a bit more expensive, it is more durable to moisture, chemicals,heat and impact resistance. The type of laminate is picked on the basis of performance and intended use of the product. HPL is often divided into various product types: general purpose, vertical surface, post-forming, flame retardant, high wear, cabinet liner and backers, but most fall under general purpose.

HPL has some thickness which is obvious at the edges, and can be sold in sheets. When it is not a solid color there is a black band of the base material visible.


Melamine: Also called direct or low-pressure laminate

It’s what you get when thin paper is applied at 300-500 psi on a substrate board. Technically speaking, melamine is the glue used to saturate the layers of paper transformed into a solid, plastic surface through thermal fusion.

In general, Melamine is cost effective due to its manufacturing process. It’s also available in a variety of colors and finishes. However, it fails when moisture or water is involved. The board it is bonded on also has voids at the end, thus necessitating an edge-banding to cover the area. Melamine is a great option if you’re looking to value engineer products that are meant to have up to a 5 year lifespan.