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Home » What is Manufactured Wood? (Varieties, Usage, Advantages & All You Need to Know)

What is Manufactured Wood? (Varieties, Usage, Advantages & All You Need to Know)

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Seasoned woodworkers must have come across the term manufactured wood, engineered wood, or man-made wood several times. Others who do not use wood as frequently may be hearing the term for the first time; however, it is a simple concept and can be grasped quickly.

Wood can be used almost everywhere, which has increased the demand for this material. Its high demand and use have led to several adverse effects since its use has exceeded renewability. Some of these challenges like global warming, deforestation, and more are the root causes of other environmental problems.

When the concept of engineered wood was introduced, it didn’t take long to catch on because it was an effective way to reduce the overdependence on lumber and experience a different wood form. This guide focuses on manufactured wood in general before moving into a more precise look into its features, among other things.

If you’ve ever had an unanswered man-made wood question, this is your opportunity to get answers. Here is a simplistic explanation of the concept of composite wood:

What is Manufactured Wood?

What is Manufactured Wood?
Image Source: timber2udirec

Engineered, manufactured, man-made, and composite wood are all used interchangeably when describing a type of wood that was made in a factory. Manufactured wood is made from dust particles, sawdust, wood fibers, lumber scraps, and strands. All these materials are joined together using adhesives and under high pressure.

The pressed-down wood combination is often sandwiched in between two flat wood boards and covered with melamine protection. Man-made wood can be made in different forms and with several combinations that suit certain uses. This flexibility gives it a unique pull to woodworkers.

Types of Manufactured Wood

Since the wood is made in the factory by the combination of several materials, you can adjust its process to make different types of wood. These different types can then be used for specific cases where they are best suited.

1. MDF Board

MDF Board
Image Source: indiamart

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a type of composite wood made from hardwood and softwood particles. These wood particles are broken down into fibers and mixed with resin binder and wax. Its finish is smooth, and it is mostly used for cabinets, speaker boxes, and furniture.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Denser than plywood
  • Easily painted
  • Does not have splinters

Cons

  • It can be damaged easily when used indoors

2. Plywood

Plywood
Image Source: indiamart

Plywood is the most popular form of man-made wood and is usually considered the original form. It is made from the cross-lamination of veneer sheets that are bonded under heat and pressure by adhesives that can resist moisture.

Plywood comes in various grades, such as MR and Marine. These grades consist of varying thickness levels for different uses, like in the making of houses, boats, and cupboards. Thus, making it suitable for use in areas that see a lot of moisture.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Durable material
  • High water resistance level
  • Different grades and thicknesses are available
  • Available in larger sizes

Cons

3. Particle Boards

Particle Boards
Image Source: gharpedia

This is an affordable and environmentally friendly composite wood made by pressing wood particles like sawdust and chips. The particles are glued together and then pressed firmly to form a lightweight material used for false ceilings, shelves, and wooden floors.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Environmental friendly

Cons

  • Prone to warping and not suitable for outdoor use

4. Block Boards

Block Boards
Image Source: indiamart

This is made by placing softwood strips edge to edge and sandwiching them between veneers. This combination is then glued together and pressed down under high pressure like other composite wood. Block Boards are suitable for doors, tables, and panels.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • More affordable than plywood
  • Lightweight
  • Can withstand warping to a large extent

Cons

  • The glue is not durable enough and thus not suitable for outdoor use

5. Cross-Laminated Timber

Cross-Laminated Timber
Image Source: adhesiveplatform

As the name implies, cross-laminated timber is made when layers of solid-sawn timber are arranged perpendicularly to each other. It is environmentally friendly and is suitable for roofs, doors, and walls.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Has thicker laminations than plywood and thus increasing its rigidity
  • Environmental friendly

Cons

  • Expensive

6. Laminate Veneer Lumber

Laminate Veneer Lumber
Image Source: theconstructor

This consists of layers of thin wood arranged in the same direction and held together using glue. This gives it a similar appearance to plywood.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Uniform structure
  • Good warping prevention level

Cons

  • Requires frequent maintenance

7. Oriented Strand Board

Oriented Strand Board
Image Source: indiamart

The compression of wood flakes mixed with adhesives makes an oriented strand board. The mechanical properties of this type of manufactured wood make it an attractive option.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Favorable mechanical properties
  • Good load-bearing capacity
  • Uniform structure

Cons

  • Can see an expansion when exposed to moisture

What is Engineered Wood Made of?

Manufactured wood is a combination of different materials. These materials combine in different quantities to make a suitable wood for your activities. It consists of softwood, hardwood, wood waste like sawdust and scraps, adhesives, and more.

Both soft and hardwood are used to make these veneers. Typically, the composite is sandwiched between two veneers made from solid wood.   There’s a supporting layer just under this solid layer known as the medium-density fiberboard, and then the back layer supports the other two layers. Man-made wood covered with veneers from solid woods is more durable and expensive.

Uses of Manufactured Wood

There are several uses of manufactured wood, but we’ll be focusing on some of the most prominent.

Furniture Making

Composite wood is used to make furniture of different types, including beds, chairs, tables, cupboards, and racks, among others. Manufactured wood is a way to paint, sports a smooth surface, and can be nailed or screwed easily, making it an ideal furniture material. The medium-density fiberboard type is one of the most suitable for furniture.

Flooring

You can use manufactured wood for your flooring even though solid wood is a preferable option. Man-made wood can be adjusted to improve its durability and strength so it can be useful as a flooring material. It is an attractive option because it is more affordable than solid wood. Man-made wood is easy to stain and resists scratches and dents better.

Decking

The typical man-made wood has poor water resistance, so it is beneficial to only use treated manufactured wood for decking. This is because moisture level is higher outdoors, and to ensure your wood is not damaged by water; you need to improve its durability.

Advantages of Engineered Wood

Advantages of Engineered Wood

Why are people using composite wood instead of going for regular lumber? The pros listed here will give you a clear understanding of why this is the case for many.

  • Sustainability: Composite wood is a more sustainable type of wood because it uses up more parts of the tree that would’ve otherwise been wasted. Engineered wood means fewer trees are cut down since you can get more from one tree.
  • Flexibility: Engineered wood is flexible that offers a wide range of grades and forms. You’ll find types suitable for different uses while being easy to nail or screw.
  • Durability: The durability of this type of wood is tied to its flexibility. You can adjust the process of making the wood to improve its strength and make it capable of carrying more load. You’ll also find the moisture-resistant types suitable for outdoor use.
  • Affordable: These woods are affordable and wouldn’t cost a fortune to use for your projects.
  • Lightweight: Most man-made woods are lighter than their solid wood counterparts. Their weight can be beneficial in several woodworking projects.

Disadvantages of Engineered Wood

Disadvantages of Engineered Wood

Some factors make man-made wood undesirable for many.

  • Aesthetics: The wood patterns and stripes make man-made wood less appealing than solid wood. If you’re looking for physical appeal, this wood generally falls short.
  • Chemicals: Manufactured wood contain wax, adhesives, and glue, which consists of dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde. These chemicals, when inhaled over time, can cause serious damage.
  • Recycle: Engineered wood cannot be reused as they are made from recycled materials already. They also contain chemicals that make it difficult for recycling to occur.

Engineered Wood Vs. Solid Wood – Which is Better?

Comparing engineered wood and solid wood can be a little challenging without context. Which of the two wood types is better? There is no outright answer to this since they all have their strong points.

Engineered wood offers a lot of flexibility as there are several grades available, unlike solid wood, where options are limited except by tree type. Solid wood comes in longer planks because it can be cut from long tree trunks. Engineered wood, however, is generally shorter.

Solid wood can be sanded several times without damaging the wood, but engineered wood can only withstand sanding one or two times before it breaks the solid surface and enters the composite area.

Summary

No matter what you choose to call engineered wood from its various names, its flexibility and uses will remain. This type of wood is not only functional but environmentally friendly. Preserving the environment while enjoying quality wood is possible with composite wood.