Our houses are no longer built of wood in the classical way. However, wood and wood-like materials continue to be an integral part of home interiors. In fact, it will be hard to find a house that has no wood at all! But there are various types and grades of wood and it is easy to get them mixed up.

So here’s a detailed guide that explains all kinds of wood, mainly split into solid and engineered wood, with their properties, uses and maintenance measures. 

Solid Wood

wood materials-solid wood
Do you see the grains? This is found only in solid wood

Solid wood refers to wood materials that don’t have any hollow spaces and are derived from the lumber of trees. It is categorised into hardwood—which includes Mahogany, Walnut, Oak, Maple, Cherry and Birch—and softwood—which includes Pine, Sal, Red Cedar and Redwood. 

What you need to know about solid wood

  1. The unique grains and knots seen in solid wood give it a unique look that cannot be replicated
  2. Durable over decades
  3. Ages well over time since it is natural
  4. Can be restored and reclaimed
  5. Has to be protected from direct sunlight and moisture

Where can you use solid wood

  • Furniture
  • Wardrobes
  • Ceiling rafters
  • Doors, windows and frames
  • Partitions
  • Flooring

Dos & don’ts of maintaining solid wood

  • Clean any spills immediately
  • Polish wood from time to time
  • Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity indoors
  • Protect from moisture and direct sunlight

Here is a detailed account of the 6 popular types of solid wood

Engineered Wood

 wood materials-engineered wood
Notice the wood chips glued together?

A derivative wood product, engineered or manufactured wood is made by binding or fixing the strands, particles, fibers etc. of wood together with adhesives or by using other methods to form a composite material. The different types of engineered wood materials have been listed below with their respective properties and uses.

Want to know more, read the engineered wood guide

#1: Plywood

 wood materials-plywood
Sheets of plywood

When thin sheets of wood veneers are cross-laminated and bonded with moisture-resistant adhesives under heat and pressure, you get plywood that is a type of wood material. 

What you need to know about plywood

  1. There are two main types of plywood: MR (Moisture Resistant) and BWR (Boiling Water Resistant)
  2. Uniform strength 
  3. Flexible and bendable
  4. Moderately impact resistant
  5. Requires very little maintenance
  6. Both MR and BWR plywood are termite and borer proof

Where can you use plywood

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Wardrobes
  • Furniture
  • Panels
  • Doors, windows and frames

Dos and don’ts of maintaining solid wood

  • Dust with dry cloth
  • Protect from moisture and direct sunlight
  • Never use abrasive materials to clean plywood
  • If there are nicks or scratches, gently sand the area

Take a detailed look at everything about plywood here

#2: HDHMR (High Density High Moisture Resistant) board

 wood materials-hdhmr
A new product in the market

This relatively new wood materials product that is superior to plywood when it comes to density and moisture resistance. It is also harder and denser than MDF and is very suitable for use in high moisture conditions.

What you need to know about HDHRM

  1. High water and moisture resistance
  2. Heat resistant
  3. High tensile strength

Where can you use HDHMR

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Furniture
  • Panels
  • Partitions 
  • Shelves

Dos and don’ts of maintaining HDHMR

  • Clean spots instead of the whole area
  • Don’t run, just make a clean swipe
  • You can use lukewarm water to clean this material

#3: MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

wood materials-mdf
The most malleable engineered wood

First, hardwood and softwood particles are broken down into wood fibres. Next, the wood fibres are combined with wax and a resin binder to form panels by applying high temperature and pressure to form MDF. 

What you need to know about MDF

  1. Smooth finish and consistency
  2. Malleable and easy to work with 
  3. More durable than a lot of hard woods
  4. Limited resistance to water, moisture and heat and hence should not be used in wet areas

Where can you use MDF

  • Partitions 
  • Shelves
  • Wall panels
  • Furniture
  • Wainscoting

Dos and don’ts of maintaining MDF

  • Dust away with dry cloth
  • Never use water to clean MDF 
  • Keep away from wet and heat-prone areas at home

Learn more about the uses and features of MDF

#4: Particle Board

Wood Materials-Particle Board
Never use in wet areas

Particle board is an affordable type of wood materials. It is manufactured by pressing and extruding various wood wastes like wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust.

What you need to know about particle board

  1. Eco-friendly
  2. Durable due to its consistent thickness
  3. Moderate resistance to warping and impact

Where can you use particle board

  • Cabinets in dry areas
  • Wardrobes
  • Ceiling panels
  • Shelves

Dos and don’ts of maintaining particle board

  • Never use water to clean particle board
  • Do not expose to direct sunlight
  • Always clean and handle with care as it is not the sturdiest of engineered woods

Also, learn the exact difference between particle board and plywood.

#5: Blockboard

 types of wood-blockboard
Primarily used for doors

To make blockboard, you must glue together a core of softwood strips. The strips—about 25mm wide—are placed edge to edge between veneers of hardwood.

What you need to know about blockboard

  1. Moisture resistant
  2. Heat resistant
  3. High tensile strength allows it to hold screws better than MDF and particle board
  4. Not prone to sagging and bending
  5. Highly impact resistant
  6. High thermal and sound insulation

Where can you use blockboard

  • Mainly used for doors and windows
  • Offers sound and thermal insulation when used as a ceiling panel
  • Shelves 
  • Partitions
  • Countertop
  • Table top

Dos and don’ts of maintaining blockboard

  • Relatively easy to maintain as it is a sturdy type of wood materials
  • Wipe with damp cloth to clean
  • You can use lukewarm water to clean blockboard

If you enjoyed reading about the different types of wood and wood materials, also explore how to use wood to make your interiors timeless

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