Melamine faced chipboard is most commonly used for kitchens and bedrooms. This type of board was developed in the 1970's. Melamne is a printed surface laminated o a substrate, most commonly chipboard. MDF or supawood is also used for Melamine boards but the cost of supawood is higher than chipboard. More 95% of carcasses built in South Africa during 2017 will be made with Super White Melamine.
Chipboard has improved over thast 30 years but still has much the same disadvantages. Water and chipboard are not friends and the vast majority of damage to kitchens is caused by water or steam. I have seen 30 year old Melamine kitchens that still look reasonably good, The fact is that most kitchens that are 30 years old or more look tatty.
Melamine is available from two main manufacturers in South Africa, Melawood and Novoboard are the two main brands. Melawood is manufactured by PG Bison and Novoboard by Sappi Novoboard. In terms of quality, there is no real difference. The colour range from both differ but they have something to offer that makes the ranges not entirely dissimilar. Novoboard will as an example have a colour called Windsor Cherry and Novoboard Cherry Royale. The two colours differ marginally but not so much that the untrained eye will be able to identify them when faced with the two in different kitchens.
Melawood were the first suppliers of Melamine in SA. Look at part of the Melawood range of Melamine below.