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Wood is one of the most preferred materials, for building homes and decorating the interiors. From furniture to flooring and from doors to staircases, wood can be used in home designs to meet functional needs and match the décor theme of a house. Although wood is a renewable material, the rampant use of solid wood has raised environmental concerns and made people realise the importance of alternative materials. Engineered wood, also known as composite wood, manufactured board, or man-made wood, is gaining popularity as a sustainable material for use in commercial and residential buildings.
What is engineered wood?
Engineered wood is a product that is manufactured to appear like wood, using different materials such as shredded wood fibres, sawdust, adhesives and various chemicals. The product can then be cut and sawed like timber. It is designed and tested to be strong, durable and moisture resistant. Certain products are manufactured using waterproof adhesives, especially for outdoor use.
What are the benefits of engineered wood?
- Engineered wood is a sustainable product that is more affordable than traditional solid wood.
- This type of wood is designed to bear heavy loads.
- It is flexible, pliable and available in a wide range of grades.
- The material does not easily warp or crack.
- This type of wood is durable and easy to install.
Types of engineered wood
Plywood, a popular form of wood, is a wooden structural panel that is manufactured through cross-lamination of veneer sheets and joining them with moisture-resistant glue, under pressure and heat.
Advantages: It is a versatile engineered wood material and is used for interiors, exteriors and structural frames.
Particle board is produced by pressing and extruding wood wastes such as sawdust, sawmill shavings and wood chips. It is more uniform than plywood but requires a sealant to ensure its durability.
Advantages: It is used in designing furniture and false ceilings.
See also: Everything you need to know about wooden false ceilings
Blockboard is manufactured by joining the core of softwood strips that are about 25 mm in width, which are placed side to side between hardwood veneers. The product is then joined under high pressure.
Advantages: Blockboards are light and used for making doors, partitions, shelves and panels.
Medium-density fibreboard or MDF is a basic type of wood made by shredding hardwood and softwood particles into wood fibres. They are bonded together under extreme pressure and high temperature, to form panels.
Advantages: Medium density fibreboards have smooth finishing and are denser than plywood. They are available in different qualities and thicknesses.
High-density fiberboards or HDFs are a type of engineered wood produced from pulped wood waste and chips.
Advantages: The material is durable and denser than most types of wood. Thus, it can be used as an option for engineered wood flooring.
Laminated veneer lumber is manufactured by assembling several layers of thin wood using adhesives. It is a form of wood that resembles plywood.
Advantages: Laminate veneer is known to be more durable and uniform than most types of wood. Owing to the composite structure, it is less prone to warping or shrinking.
Cross-laminated timber or CLT is produced by arranging different layers of solid-sawed lumber perpendicular to each other.
Advantages: Owing to its structural rigidity, this type of wood material is preferred for designing walls, flooring, ceilings, roofs and furniture.
Oriented strand board
It is a class of engineered wood made by combining wood flakes with adhesive and compressing them. They are available in sanded or non-sanded forms.
Advantages: The material has an excellent load-bearing capacity, thus, proving to be a preferred choice for flooring. It is also water-resistant.
Engineered wood vs solid wood: Which is better?
Solid wood comes directly from a fully-grown tree and has the same composition (wood fibres) all through. Solid wood can be hardwood or softwood. Hardwood, such as oak, teak, maple and rosewood, takes a longer time to grow and has high density. Softwood, such as fir, white cedar, rubber-wood, juniper and pine, grow comparatively faster and have a lower density. Unlike solid wood, engineered wood is made of multiple layers.
|Solid wood||Engineered wood|
|Solid wood is natural wood, which is a homogeneous product.||Engineered wood is a manufactured form of wood, which is basically a layered product.|
|The material is expensive.||Engineered wood is more affordable.|
|Solid wood may not be eco-friendly unless obtained through sustainable forests.||Obtaining engineered wood does not require fresh timber and is an eco-friendly option.|
|Solid wood is stronger than most engineered woods.||Engineered wood has comparatively lower strength.|
|Since it is a natural product, it is prone to termite attacks, and may warp, expand or contract due to weather conditions.||Engineered wood can withstand the effects of humidity or moisture. It is resistant to warping, cracking and termite attacks.|
|It is usually heavy and dense, making it difficult to work on.||Owing to its structure and light weight, engineered wood allows ease of work and customisation when designing furniture.|
See also: Wooden flooring in home décor: Elegant and practical
Engineered wood price
|Type of engineered wood||Price in India (per sq ft)|
|Plywood||Rs 80 to Rs 220|
|Particle board||Rs 20 to Rs 50|
|Blockboard||Rs 80 to Rs 210|
|Medium-density fibreboard||Rs 50 to Rs 190|
|High-density fibreboard||Rs 50 to Rs 170|
|Wooden laminate sheets||Rs 75 to Rs 200|
What are the disadvantages of engineered wood?
Although engineered wood needs lower maintenance than solid wood, it still needs maintenance as it is prone to damage due to moisture and wear. Moreover, the use of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and VOC for creating and treating this type of wood can impact the environment.
How long do engineered hardwood floors last?
Good quality engineered hardwood floors can last up to 20 to 30 years.