If you’ve gone shopping for shoe cabinets, tables or pretty much any type of furniture, you’ve probably heard of the words: engineered wood. While its counterpart is solid wood, the engineered variety has become extremely popular in Indian homes now. But what is it exactly? Moreover, how do we choose from all the varieties available in the market? Here are a few basics to help you understand and decide!

Engineered wood

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Aka composite or man-made wood

What is engineered wood?

Engineered wood, also popular by different names like composite wood, manufactured board or composite wood, is a derivative wood product made from binding or fixing the strands, particles, etc. together with adhesives or other methods of fixation to form composite materials.

Advantages of engineered wood

Engineered wood products may be preferred over solid wood due to certain comparative advantages. They can also be designed to meet application-specific requirements. Versatility and availability in a wide variety of thickness is another advantage of engineered wood. It is easy to work even when using ordinary tools. They can be cut, drilled, routed, jointed, glued, and fastened easily when compared to solid wood. The most significant advantage of using engineered wood is that it is much more cost-effective when compared to solid wood.  

Disadvantages of engineered wood

The adhesive used to manufacture some of them are toxic, like formaldehyde. In fact, most particle and fibre boards are not suitable for outdoor usage as they soak up water. They also require an external layer like veneer or laminate to complete the look. In contrast, Solid wood just needs to be polished to obtain the desired look.

What are the different types of engineered wood?

The primary material used to manufacture engineered wood products is made from the same hardwoods and softwoods that are used in the manufacture of lumber. Some engineered woods are also manufactured from sawmill scraps and other wood waste. There are numerous types of engineered woods. Let’s look at some important types that are commonly available in the market.

Plywood  

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Plywood is extremely versatile

What is plywood?

Plywood is a wood structural panel and is considered to be the original engineered wood product by many. Additionally, the manufacturing process of plywood involves cross-lamination of veneer sheets and bonding them with moisture-resistant adhesives under heat and pressure.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of plywood?

Plywood is an incredibly versatile type of engineered wood which can be used for a variety of interior, structural, and exterior applications such as structural frames and internal panelling. It has good uniform strength, is economical and is available in larger sizes when compared to solid wood. One of the main disadvantages of using plywood is that some of them bend and sag when exposed to too much weight or water; plywood is also more expensive when compared to particle boards and blockboards.

What is the cost of plywood?

Plywood comes in different qualities and thicknesses. The price ranges from Rs. 80 to Rs. 200 per square feet.

Particle board

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Particle board is cheaper than plywood

What is particle board?

Thinking of using eco-friendly wood in your house? Choose particle board! It is affordable, environment-friendly and can be used for false ceilings, shelves, furniture, and carpentry. Particle board is manufactured by pressing and extruding various wood wastes like wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of particle board?

Particle board is cheaper, denser, and more uniform than conventional wood or plywood. However, particle boards are prone to expansion and discolouration due to moisture easily. They need to be covered with paint or another sealer for durability. Particle boards can swell and disintegrate due to water damage and are therefore unsuitable for the outdoors, as they may be exposed to rain.  

What is the cost of particle board?

Particle boards come in varying thickness, and the price ranges from Rs 15 per square foot to Rs 40, per square foot.

Blockboard

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Blockboards are light in weight

What is blockboard?

Wondering what wood to use in the house you are building? Try blockboard! It is the ideal choice for doors, panels, shelves, and partitions. It also makes sturdy tables if the core runs lengthwise. Blockboard is made by gluing together a core of softwood strips. The strips, that are about 25mm wide, are placed edge to edge between veneers of hardwood. This sandwich is then glued under high pressure to obtain block board.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of blockboard?

Blockboards are cheaper when compared to plywood. They are lighter and usually used inside buildings to make doors as they are lightweight. They cannot be used outside as the bonding gum is not durable outdoors.

What is the cost of blockboard?

The price of block board ranges from Rs 90 to Rs 200 per square foot. 

MDF board

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MDF is generally denser than plywood

What is MDF board?

Trying to decide on the type of wood for your office or kitchen cabinets? MDF is a good choice for cabinets, furniture, and floors. It is even used to make speaker boxes. Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is created by first breaking down hardwood and softwood particles into wood fibres. Next, the wood fibres are combined with wax and a resin binder to form panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF has a smooth finish and consistency. It is strong, yet is easy to work with. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of MDF board?

MDF is generally denser than plywood but can soak up water faster than plywood and hence is susceptible to damage if used outdoors. The surface of MDF is very smooth, making it suitable for painting and indoor furniture. MDF board also comes in different thicknesses and quality.

What is the cost of MDF board?

The price of the board varies between Rs 30 per square feet to Rs 200, per square feet.

Laminate veneer

engineered wood-laminate veneer
Laminate veneer is very durable

What is laminate veneer?

Laminate veneer, also known as laminated veneer lumber, is made up of several layers of thin wood that are assembled together with the help of adhesives. Similar in appearance to plywood, the layers of laminate veneer all stack in the same direction. The direction of the wood grain is always parallel to the length of the billet. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of laminate veneer?

Laminate veneer, just like the other types of engineered wood, comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Since LVL is made in factories under controlled conditions, it is more durable and uniform. Also, due to its composite structure, there are lesser chances of it warping or shrinking. However, it is susceptible to water damage and requires more maintenance.

What is the cost of laminate veneer?

The price of laminate veneer is on an average Rs 150/sq. ft.

Cross laminated timber

engineered wood-cross laminated timber
CLT is an eco-friendly option

What is cross laminated timber?

Cross laminated timber (CLT) is made using layers of solid-sawn lumber. Each layer is oriented perpendicular to the previous one. This ensures that all the layers have equal orientation. CLT is used in walls, floors, furniture, ceilings and roofs. It is also an environmentally sustainable material and a good alternative to other synthetic products.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cross laminated timber?

One of the biggest advantages of cross laminated timber is that it is eco-friendly. It has distinctively thicker laminations than plywood and better structural rigidity. However, it can be quite expensive as it involves higher design, transportation and ancillary costs.

Oriented Strand Board

engineered wood-oriented strand board
These have high load-bearing capacities

What is oriented strand board?

Oriented strand board is a type of engineered wood that is formed by combining wood flakes with adhesives and then compressing them. Oriented strand boards may come sanded or unsanded. These are produced in wide mats and have favourable mechanical properties.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of oriented strand board?

The main benefit of oriented strand board is that it has good load-bearing capacities and can be used as flooring and roof decking. They can also be water-resistant, depending on how they are made and are much cheaper and more uniform than plywood. However, the lower quality versions, when exposed to too much water, can expand by up to 15%. 

So what type of wood do you need?

Make your choice based on your purpose and location of use. The budget also plays an essential factor in selection. It is challenging to determine the quality of these engineered woods, and you will be better off shopping in a standard store than relying on middle men. Choose the right type of engineered wood for your home with the help of this guide.

Know more about plywood in details here: All You Need to Know About Plywood.

Send in your comments and suggestions.

editor@livspace.com