Plywood, as we all know, is a less expensive alternative to solid wood. Plywood is simple to form, readily available, and available in various textures ranging from smooth birch panels to mottled press-board. Plywood is an incredibly versatile commodity used for various structural, interior, and exterior applications.
You must have seen wood in various forms at the carpenter’s workshop or your own house when renovating your home.
The wood that looked as if some layers were bound together and used to make furniture, especially wardrobe and kitchen cabinets, is called ply or plywood. It is your best companion in making interior furniture.
What is plywood?
Plywood is the most commonly used option today, and it is quite essential to know about plywood before using them.
Let us find out what goes into making a ply. Ply or plywood is a term used for a product made by gluing together thin sheets of wood. Thin sheets of wood are stuck together to obtain plywood of uniform thickness.
In simple terms, thin layers of wood of a particular size are bound together to obtain a sheet of wood of suitable thickness. Each layer is called the veneer.
The veneers are usually made from different woods such as teak, spruce, birch, etc. Usually, veneers are obtained from good-quality wood.
The number of veneers selected is usually in odd numbers, like 3, 5, 7, etc. Such kinds of plies balance the sheet and ensure that there is no warping. Plywood is used extensively in the wood industry.
Today, most of the home decor and home furniture are made by using plywood. An advantage of plies is that they are cheap, can be recycled, and are flexible. Thus they can be used to make many products. Also since plies can be locally manufactured, it is easy to get.
Carpenters and interior designers prefer plywood over plain wood because, unlike plain wood, plywood is durable and doesn’t shrink, crack, warp, twist in the long run. Of course, it also lasts for a long time.
The manufacturing process of ply:
If you thought making a ply is easier and that it just needs some layers of wood and a good quality adhesive to stick them together, then you are right in some ways but wrong in many ways. Though the process of making a ply sounds easier, it is not that simple. At least 14 to 15 steps of processes go into making a sturdy ply.
Apart from being aware of the quality of the wood used to create the ply, one must also be careful of what goes inside the veneer that can directly impact the overall product.
Resin is an important and most essential part of the manufacturing process because correct gluing is the secret to a strong ply. Most companies prefer to produce resin in-house to ensure maximum quality.
The veneers are glued and perfected so as to ensure strength and dimensional stability.
For the smoothest finishes, the glued plywoods are pressed to resolve any undulation. There are usually two press methods, one is the pre-press method, and second, the hot press. The pre-press process helps to expand and stabilize each layer to ensure that the product is warp-free. The hot press process is to make certain that the ply is of uniform density at all levels and points.
How the ply will be utilized is also one factor of classifying the ply. Some of the different plywood types in India are:
Indoor and outdoor ply:
Different kinds of plies are used for interiors and exteriors. Usually waterproof or water-resistant ply is utilized for exterior work. By the term interiors, it means that such ply is used for making furniture, doors, etc.
Such type of plywood is known as commercial MR plywood, wherein MR is the abbreviation for Moisture resistant. The exterior plywood goes by the term BWP or BWR plywood. BWP stands for
Boiling Water Proof whereas BWR stands for Boiling Water Resistant
Commercial plywood: In India, the term commercial ply is referred to as the ‘MR’ grade ply. This ply is the interior grade ply and used for making indoor furniture units. When it is said that moisture resistant, it does not mean it is water-resistant.
There is a huge difference between water and moisture, as you know. Waterproof ply is the BWR graded ones which are the boiling water-resistant ones. So commercial ply can withstand moisture to a certain extent but they are not waterproof.
Indian standards specification numbers for different kinds of plywood
IS: 303 – MR Plywood, BWR Plywood, Flexi Ply
IS: 710 – Marine Plywood
IS: 10701 – Structural plywood
IS: 5509-1980 – Fire Retardant Plywood
IS: 4990 – Shuttering Plywood
This ply is used for maximum precision. The inner ply sometimes measures only 0.005 inches, thus you can imagine how perfected the ply has been made.
Calibrated ply is mostly used for such furniture where uniformity in thickness has to be maintained.
This is a term used for exterior plywood and is in high demand in the production of marine applications. Marine ply is also used to make boats and preferred in industries due to its water-resistant factor.
Marine ply, though not much used for interiors, some do make use of it to make kitchen furniture since such types of furniture are often exposed to water.
Classification on the basis of the raw material (wood) used Hardwood plywood is a term used for plies made from teak or birth. This is one of the best quality plywood.
It is a term used for wood made from soft trees such as Pine, Fir, Spruce, or Cedar. Plies made from Mango tree wood are also softwood plies.
Other plywood terms Flexible plywood as the term implies is flexible plies that can be bent or rolled. Such types of plies are extremely in demand to make designer furniture. Fire-resistant ply is used in malls, theatres, restaurant kitchens to prevent any fire accidents.
Why is 16mm ply used for Modular?
Nowadays, there is hardly any kitchen that is plain. Most householders prefer a modular kitchen as it is easy, convenient, looks elegant and gives a beautiful look to the kitchen. In India, ply is most preferred to make a modular kitchen.
Ply thickness ranging from 12 mm to 19 mm -> Such plies are usually waterproof and made from hardwood. Hence such plies are usually used in kitchen furniture, especially to make modular kitchens and other furniture.The 16 mm thickness ply is what is preferred for this thickness guarantees a strong modular kitchen and also lasts for a long time because of its strength.
Decorating the plywood
Plywood is usually decorated with laminates, paints and then polished. Sunmica is the most common laminate used to decorate ply. It is also popular because it is available in different colours, textures and even patterns.
Compared to laminates, paints are less expensive and protect the wood for a long time. Though polishing is generally done on hardwood, plies are also polished to make it look even and good. Ply is best for wardrobes. As interior designs are improving with technology, there also have been some great innovations in wardrobes.
Ply’s flexibility and strength make it the most suitable material to make wardrobes. Of course, they can also be decorated as per your choice, thus giving it a beautiful look from the outside.
Plywood Features in Interior Design:
Due to the lack of solid wood availability, the preference of using plywood in making different furniture options is on the rise lately. Though there are also many other options available today such as MDF, following are a few features of plywood which are the reason behind its wide popularity:
- One can determine the quality of the plywood by the grades such as Grade A states the best quality ply option.
- The ply sheets are available in two convenient sizes of 4’x8’ and 3’x7’. This helps reduce waste during its use in any project.
- Plywood comes with high strength and is highly durable so that it can hold screws conveniently for the creation of different masterpieces.
- Plywood is cheaper in price and environment-friendly when compared to solid wood.
Apart from these beneficial features, there are some of the other features that should be taken care of too. Here are such features.
- As the plyboards are made by piling up several plies, they cannot be folded or molded into different ways. It is best for manufacturing straight options such as tables, cabinets, drawers, and others.
- Just raw ply cannot offer you the finish that you have been searching for. For such cases, you have to make use of laminate, paint, or veneer to make the ply look good.
- Usually, the plywood is not water-resistant. But now there are plywood options available that are especially water-resistant. Hence, you should check before buying.
- In order to stay away from the issues of off-gassing, you should consider plywood that is manufactured with the green process.
- It is always ideal to go for plywood from a reputable brand in order to get a warranty and guarantee on the quality of the plywood for enhanced durability.
Thus, before you decide to manufacture your interiors with plywood, make sure to think about the features and consider the different types of plywood.
Advantages of ply
Convenient to use: Ply can easily be used. It is easy to nail or screw the ply and unlike wood, these processes do not cause any damage to the ply.
Provides good strength: Plies are much stronger than any other kind of wood. They are durable also.
Highly economical: Not much wood is wasted during the making of the ply. Thin sheets of variable quality too can make a ply of superior quality.
Not much distress: Plies are made in such a way that it does not suffer warping or shrinking, thus suitable for use for a long duration of time.
Flexible and reasonable: Ply is flexible and hence in great demand to make creative designs in interior design work and other decorative materials. It is also easy to use and thus interior designers prefer plywood over any other material to make high-end kitchens and other interior work.
Plus, plies are stronger and durable, thus making them much popular with carpenters and industries.
Now that you know the intricacies of that ply lying at your house, you will be able to get the best furniture with ply and interior work is done for your home.
After your home’s renovation gets done, do say a soft ‘thank you’ to the ply that is making your home look so beautiful.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. What is the thickest Plywood you can buy?
Answer: The plyboard with a dimension of 3/4inch is the thickest plywood that one can buy. But the most commonly used thickness is 1/2inch as it offers a lot of flexibility
Q2. What are the types of Plywoods?
Answer: There can be different types of plywoods such as calibrated ply, marine ply, softwood ply, and even commercial ply.
Q3. Is Plywood stronger than regular wood?
Answer: This is dependent on the quality of the plywood. Plywood is made up of sheets that have been artificially glued together, and the individual plies will fall apart if the ‘Glue shear strength’ is poor..
Q4. Which is the best Plywood for furniture?
Answer: Birch or oak plywood options can be the best for manufacturing furniture.