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RE: Making a treadmill running deck
I'm pretty sure Melamine is what you want. I have a LiveStrong treadmill and that is what my deck is made of. The issue of expansion and contraction isn't caused by the ambient temperature in your room, it's caused by the friction of the belt itself. This is why you are supposed to lubricate it with a silicone lubricant every 1000 miles or so. Also, if you attempt to place metal, or phenolic with plywood or MDF, you'll get differential expansion and contraction and that will torque the materials and likely make things a bit worse.
Now if you are cracking the the deck lengthwise, I think you may want to consider just using Melamine, and just be very carefull with your assembly. There may be a mounting bracket that is just slightly out of tolerance so you are not loading the deck uniformly (causing a moment or shear concentration). This may require some calipers to check, but it may be that one of the brackets was damaged one time, or it may be a manufacturing flaw.
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