One of the most popular materials used for furniture making, interior designing, and commercial purposes is plywood. It is an incredibly adaptable substance that is widely used on a global scale. There are different types of plywood that are easily available in any plywood shops near you. But what is plywood exactly, and how is it made? Let’s learn more about plywood in this blog post, including different types of plywood used in India and its many applications for both indoor and outdoor projects.
What is Plywood and How is it Made?
Plywood is a type of paneling made of many thin layers of wood that are joined crosswise to the grain. The cross-laminated wood sheets are adhered together with waterproof phenol-formaldehyde adhesive, and then they are dried under pressure and heated to create plywood. Each layer, referred to as a veneer, is joined with additional veneers to create plywood.
How plywood is Manufactured?
There are 8 steps in the production of plywood, namely:
Debarking and bucking logs
Peeling logs into veneers
Bonding veneers together
Pressing veneers in a hot press
Plywood cutting, and
Other finishing procedures like sanding
The initial step in the debarking process entails feeding the logs through a variety of debarking machinery. This technique aims to remove the tree’s outer bark without damaging the wood. The logs are chopped into proper lengths once the bark has been removed. This action is termed as “bucking”.
The logs (which are now blocks) are then heated. The blocks are heated to a temperature of around 93°C (200°F) using hot water baths, steam heat, hot water spray, or combination of all three.After that, the blocks are processed to make veneer. They are then sent to a veneer dryer where they are dried to a moisture content that ranges between 1 to 15%.
The various layers of veneers are joined together after drying using resins like phenol-formaldehyde or urea-formaldehyde. The veneer assembly is then transported to a hot press, where it is heated and compressed to set.
The plywood then goes through a finishing procedure that involves cutting the edges and sanding the face and back to a smooth surface. The final outcome is determined by the finishing method that is used.
Versatility of Plywood
Plywood is one of the best alternatives for wood, according to many people. It’s because they resemble wood but are considerably less expensive.Plywood is easier to work with and is readily available as plywood sheets in a variety of sizes, allowing carpenters to swiftly create plywood furniture and plywood wardrobes out of it.
The shapes of plywood pieces vary depending on their intended use. Plywood is formed into broad, flat sheets when it is used for construction. The plywood is moulded into curves for the creation of furniture, boats, aircrafts etc.Here, the grain of each layer of plywood runs perpendicularly. This minimises the possibility of shrinkage while maintaining the layer’s firmness and durability.
Types of Plywood
Some projects will need thicker boards, while others will need smaller boards, depending on the level of strength required. There are different types of plywood thicknesses available. The most common types of plywoods are three-, five-, and multi-ply plywood, with three-ply being the most widely used.
Three-ply is more durable and sturdy. Three-ply is less resilient than five-ply, and multi-ply can be used for outdoor projects like roofing. Moreover, in India there are different types of plywood available.You can choose the best quality plywood for your particular project if you know the different types of plywood. Here are some of the best quality types of plywood:
1. Hardwood plywood:
The terms “softwood” and “hardwood” do not actually define how soft or hard the wood is. Certain hardwood varieties may be lighter and softer than some softwood varieties.For instance, Balsa Wood is regarded as hardwood while it is relatively soft. Then, how is it categorised? The botanical structure of the wood accounts for its difference.
Compared to softwood, hardwood has larger pores and vessels. They are typically black in colour, and the wood has a denser texture and thicker cell walls.Deciduous trees are typically used to produce hardwoods. Hardwood plywood is most frequently made from wood species like oak, poplar, maple, cherry, and larch.
Uses: Flooring, Roofing, furniture, sports equipment, musical instruments, painting boards
2. Softwood plywood:
Typically, pine, fir, spruce, larch, or cedar are used to make softwood. They are flexible, lighter in colour, and have lower densities. Softwood plywood works best for subflooring, exterior framing, and roof sheathing. Compared to hardwood trees, softwood trees grow more quickly, are less expensive, and are more readily accessible.
Uses: Windows, construction framing, used in the construction industry
3. Aircraft plywood:
It is regarded as a sturdy variety of plywood. Hardwood, which helps in the creation of strong broads and deflects heat and moisture, is used to make aircraft plywood.They are made up of incredibly thin veneers, which maintain its strength while keeping it light and flexible. Because of this, it’s perfect for creating structures that can bear a lot of weight.
Uses: Boats, aircrafts, architectural models, musical instruments, furniture
4. Gurjan plywood:
It is well-known as one of India’s best quality plywoods and is extremely popular.What precisely is Gurjan plywood? It is fashioned from Gurjan tree wood, which is widely distributed throughout Southeast Asia.
The Gurjan tree produces high-quality hardwood that is renowned for its extraordinary strength. Gurjan plywood sheets, which are utilised for commercial and residential plywood furniture, are made from the hardwood from these trees.
Uses: Popularly used for making home and office furniture
5. Lumber core:
It normally consists of three plies, each with a thick core and two thin veneers on one side. The inner core is made out of wood strips fused together to form a single solid slab, while the exterior veneers are often composed of hardwood. Plywood with this core is a great alternative for projects that need a solid screw hold because it can hold screws with ease.
Uses: Making shelves in cupboards or closets that are long or wide
6. Marine plywood:
Even though the plywood’s name includes the word “marine,” it is not entirely waterproof. Marine plywood is varnished with exterior adhesive that is water-resistant to make it water-repellent.Although marine plywoods may tolerate some light moisture, it is not entirely waterproof. It is one of the best quality plywood that is now available, and it is made from Douglas fir or western larch wood.
A wood must not have any knotholes in any of its plies and water-resistant glue must also be used for it to be categorised as marine plywood. This makes sure that the veneers will stay together even if the wood gets wet due to weather or other causes.
Uses: For building gazebos, planter boxes, and benches, as well as other outdoor furniture.
7. Overlaid plywood:
Similar to other types of plywood, overlaid boards are made of plies, but they also have a thin veneer of ornamental wood placed on top.This gives plywood a more attractive appearance and provides resistance to water and scratches.Additionally, it resists the adhesion of tiny particles, making it a fairly durable variety of plywood.
Uses: Garden and outdoor furniture, industrial containers
8. Structural plywood:
It is sometimes referred to as plywood sheathing. Structural plywood is a kind of plywood that can be used to strengthen building materials and frameworks. Although it isn’t as weather resistant as other types of plywood,it has a strong adhesive and may be used on both the interior and exterior of buildings.
Typically, structural plywoods are graded C or D, not any higher grade.They are hence more affordable than other types of plywoods.They might not be a long-lasting alternative for outdoor construction, though.
Uses: For building beams and hoardings, used in crates, bins, boxes, outdoor furniture
9. Moisture Resistant (MR) grade plywood:
MR grade plywood is often described as commercial plywood. All sorts of furniture use it, and it is widely popular in the business sector. MR Grade plywood has been chemically treated to make it termite and borer resistant.
Commercial plywood or MR grade plywood is perfect for both Industrial and residential projects since it is made from premium hardwood lumber, giving it great strength and durability.
Uses: Interiors of office and home, doors, chairs, tables, wall-mounted cabinets, rooftops, partitions, wall panels
10. Exterior plywood or Boiling Water Resistant (BWR) grade plywood:
A kind of weather- and water-resistant adhesive, phenol formaldehyde, is used to hold the layers together in the waterproof plywood.Due to this, the wood is strong enough to withstand elements like wind and rain. It can be utilized indoors, partially outside, or outside.
Furniture that could possibly get wet is frequently made out of it. Because of its multiple layers, exterior plywood is multi-ply. Due to its durable and solid wood grain, plywood is a great choice for doors and windows.Different types of wood are used to make exterior plywood. Oaks are a better option if you live in a severe climate, because they can provide resistance to mold, wetness, and mildew.
Uses: Outdoor structures and furniture, decks, walkways, shed, outdoor shelving
11. Boiling Water Proof (BWP) grade plywood:
Because of its exceptional weather protection and waterproofing capabilities, it is the best quality plywood.It has great adhesion due to the use of powerful adhesives like phenolic glue. It is primarily utilized in locations with frequent water exposure, such as the kitchen, dining room, restrooms, workplaces, and so forth.
Plywood price of the BWP grade is slightly more expensive than BWR plywood because it is more durable and versatile. Due to its complete borer and termite resistance and lengthy lifespan, it provides good value for money.
Uses: Interiors such as kitchens and bathrooms, boiling water units, storage units
Lamination of Plywood
Plywoods that have been given an aesthetic enhancement by the addition of ornamental laminate sheets is referred to as laminated plywood. These sheets, commonly referred to as laminates, are used to make protective and aesthetically pleasing surfaces on plywood.
The stacks are bonded using powerful adhesives like urea-formaldehyde and phenol-formaldehyde, which are then hot-pressed and laminated. Before being delivered to different plywood suppliers and dealers, the finished product is sanded and given final touches.
Laminated plywood has many qualities:
Water and moisture resistant
Repels chemicals, and
Durable and long lasting
Choosing the Right Plywood
The first thing you should consider before selecting a type of plywood is whether you’re firstly interested in functionality or plywood that would look wonderful as a piece of furniture. Plywood made of hardwoods, such as cherry or oak, is frequently used to make furniture.
While softwood plywood is considered as a structural material, hardwood plywood is renowned for its aesthetic appeal. Your project may fail if you choose the wrong kind of plywood. Examine your alternatives for plywood before making a decision, then choose the plywood that best suits the requirements of your project.A wood must not.
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