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Properties of Plywood as a Building Material!

Every year construction industry witnesses the demand for different building materials. Researchers and experts are relentlessly looking for new materials to overcome the problems faced due to the use of traditional building materials. Among the building materials, plywood has become one of the most eye-catching materials that brings a huge difference in the wood industry. Nowadays due to the increasing benefits of plywood, it has become the most demanding building materials over the traditional materials like wood, bricks, plastic, etc. Therefore, across the world, the growth of the plywood market is increasing day by day.

Why has Plywood industry become so lucrative?

The plywood is easily and readily available in all regions. The application of plywood in a building and construction industry, interior design industries, etc. makes it a popular building material all over the world.

Since the benefits of plywood are on an increase, many companies over the world have started the production of soft, hard, tropical and decorative plywood. We use various types of plywood, right from making furniture to constructing the house which includes structural frame work, manufacturing of doors, windows, drywall/partition wall, décor items, etc. Nowadays many composite sheets or panels are available in the market, but still, experts or wood workers prefer plywood due to its inherent properties like strength and stability.

Let’s understand the properties of plywood and why experts recommended using plywood in construction.

Before we continue, read basic information of Plywood that includes its composition.

Properties of Plywood

Properties of Plywood

01. High Strength and Stability

Plywood derives its structural strength from the timber it is manufactured from. This is in addition to the plywood properties obtained due to its laminated design. Cross-graining (thin plies glued at the right angle with each other based on their pattern of grain) allows the plywood sheets to resist splitting and provides uniform strength with increased stability.

Uses:

  • It is cost effective when used in structural applications such as plywood flooring, walls, partitions, formwork, etc. because of its high strength and stability.
  • It is also feasible to use plywood in floor, walls, and roofs of the transport vehicles.
Also Read: Advantages and Disadvantages of Plywood

02. High Impact Resistance

Plywood has high tensile strength due to the cross lamination of panels which distributes force over a large area and reduces tensile stress. Therefore, it can with stand overloading by up to twice its designated load.

Uses:

  • This property makes it useful when we do plywood flooring or concrete formwork.
  • It means it is appropriate for the floor of various buildings, including industry which has heavy wear.

03. Panel Shear or Braced Panels Shear

As stated by Bekhta, Pavlo & Sedliacik, Jan & Tymyk, Diana (2015) in their research paper named “The effect of chemical treatment of wood veneer surfaces on their bondability”, the plywood panels made using treated veneers have higher shear strength than those of the control samples made using non-treated veneers.

Upon the treatment of veneer, plywood’s shear strength becomes nearly twice that of the solid wood when used in the wooden structure as a bracing for resisting the lateral load.

Uses:

  • This property makes it suitable to use in gussets portal frames, as bracing panels and webs of fabricated beams of the wooden structure

04. Water and Chemical Resistance

While manufacturing, thin plies or veneers are treated with a substance that makes plywood highly resistant to water and chemicals.

Uses:

  • Since it is highly resistant to water and chemicals, it is highly preferred in the chemical industries (industries that produce chemical or that uses the chemical compound for manufacturing other product).
  • Sometimes, to resist water and chemicals, the marine plywood which is treated with waterproof glue along with other chemical compound is used.
  • In construction industry, this property makes it ideal material mainly for furniture, for formwork of concrete and outdoor projects like garden furniture, like tables, chairs, and benches, decking, porches, arbours, pergolas, planters, etc.

05. Flexibility or Bendability

Plywood can be manufactured to fit every requirement as compared to wood. Furthermore, the plywood thickness varies from a few millimeters to inches. The number of veneers used also ranges from three to several, thereby increasing the thickness of the plywood sheet. The extra layers of veneer add more strength to ply board. Lesser number of veneers or specially treated veneers make plywood flexible or more bendable.

Uses:

  • Flexibility in the shape and size of plywood makes it an appropriate material to use instead of wood.
  • Flexibility in thickness enables it to be used for ceilings and paneling work, curved formwork, etc.
  • It can also be used for manufacturing furniture, decorative items, etc.
Also Read: What is the Size & Cost of Plywood?

06. Fire Resistance

Plywood can be treated with a fire-resistant chemical coating. It is combined with non-combustible materials such as fibrous cement or plasterboard.

Uses:

  • This property makes it ideal for use in fire-resistant structures.

07. Sound and Thermal Insulation

As per research paper ‘Wood Adhesives and Bonding Theory’ published by Onur Ülker of Kirikkale University, the use of urea formaldehyde resin adhesives while manufacturing of plywood can highly enhance the thermal properties of plywood.

At the time of manufacturing of plywood, veneers or thin plies are glued together with resin adhesives, which make it a high thermal and noise insulator. The process of insulation of plywood can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs during the manufacturing of plywood.

Uses:

  • In western countries, due to need of high heat resistance, insulated plywood is highly preferable for ceilings, flooring, roofing, and wall cladding work.

Summing up, experts use plywood due to its unique properties like

  • high strength and stability
  • high resistance to impact
  • resistance to water, chemicals, fire, and heat
  • Flexibility in shape, size and thickness makes it fit for every requirement
  • Cost effectiveness

The cost of plywood varies depending upon the requirement of properties fora particular purpose i.e. in routine work, use ordinary plywood that has low cost and for special purpose like resistance to water, use standard water proof plywood that will have higher cost.

When you work with natural wood, width of the wooden member is the biggest challenge, as it cannot be larger than the trunk of the tree. Hence whenever you want a wooden member of a large width either for a door or for partition you have to provide joints. The joints need very skilled workmanship, so that thin lines are not visible.

Furthermore, wood being sensitive to moisture, the joints may either expand or contract. These limitations of natural wood are easily overcome while using plywood. Similarly thickness of natural wood is also a limitation. Plywood has solved all these problems and provides large surface area which is joint less and is not likely to get affected by moisture resulting in various options unlike natural wood.

In market different grades of plywood are available and one has to choose the right grade depending upon the need.

So, if you are planning to build furniture or home, give a serious thought to plywood!

Also Read:

Different Grades of plywood
Things to Keep in Mind While Buying Plywood

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