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RE: Making a treadmill running deck
"I'm pretty sure Melamine is what you want."
The plastic surface of melamine is what you'd want, ie, basic laminate use in cheaper kitchens, or phenolic resin - same thing. Ideally, a teflon laminate would be best for the "slickness" factor.
What you DON'T want is what's underneath the Melamine's plastic surface!
... and that is particleboard! Nor do you want MDF! That's about the cheapest and least strongest crap there is! Think about it, particleboard = glued together sawdust & chips - absolutely no longitudinal (long grain strength).
MDF (medium density fiberboard) is nothing more than compressed brown paper grocery bag fibers = paper! Think about the force & pounding that running deck is taking several times per minute. Sure - paper and sawdust are nice and soft run on, but they just don't have any strength - either by themselves or with glue!
My deck is broken, and no wonder! To replace it, I'm using 3/4" void free plywood (you can also pick that stuff up at Home Cheapo for not much more than Melamine, and like someone else posted earlier, the more cross grain plies/the better, Then either glue on some plastic counter top laminate sheet stock; or in my case I may use some leftover prefinished 3/4" plywood (the film finish - also made of phenolic resins - that's put on that is very slick & tough to boot). The sheet metal reinforcement makes sense as well, but may not be necessary. Good luck all, but PLEASE,.. NO MDF or Melamine!
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