There are different types of engineered woods available in the market like plywood, MDF, hardboard, particle board, blockboard, etc., which are nowadays extensively used for making furniture instead of solid wood i.e. natural wood. Most manufacturers suggest that all products are suitable for all purposes and hence homeowners are confused as to which material should be used where.
These products have their own set of distinctive properties applications, raw materials as well as manufacturing process, which makes them very diverse from one another, and hence one has to use them judiciously and not randomly. Here we have given a brief comparison of all these composite wood, along with solid wood, with reference to their strength, uses, life and cost.
Solid (Naural) Wood
Depending upon the species of wood, solid wood is the strongest as compared to all engineered woods.
Due to its cross laminated structure, plywood is strongest amongst all engineered woods. It is also stronger as compared to softwood of inferior species of natural wood.
As blockboard is made of softwood strips, it has less strength as compared to plywood, but is stronger than other fiberboards.
HDF is the strongest amongst fiberboards.
MDF has less strength as compared to HDF, but is stronger than particle board.
Particle Board is the weakest form of engineered board.
Solid (Natural) Wood
- Solid wood is used since centuries to make wooden framed structures and as flooring.
- It is also used to make durable furniture, both indoor as well as outdoor.
- Solid wood is also used to make door and window frames, masts and spars for ships, aircraft, crates, boxes, general millwork and ladders.
- Most commonly used for making custom built furniture for home and offices.
- It is also used in building construction in the form of concrete shuttering panels, floors, walls and roofs.
- BWR grade plywood is used in making kitchen cabinets and other kitchen furniture.
- Marine plywood is used for making boats and ships.
- It is the most preferred choice when lengthy pieces of wood are required for furniture making as it is stiffer and does not bends or sags like plywood, like long book shelves, tables and benches, lengthy wall panels, exterior and interior doors, shutters,etc.
- HDF is preferred for furniture where heavy traffic is expected, such as in hotels, cinemas, government offices etc.
- It is also available in perforated form, which is used for hanging various tools of the workshops.
- As, it is more resistant to moisture, it is used as a core material for laminate flooring.
- It is mostly used for making furniture, cabinets, and shelves in storage units. They are extensively used in decorative wall cladding and embossed jalis.
- Transparent partitions are also made by carving MDF board sheets to give contemporary or traditional look.
- It is used in light weight furniture such as shoe racks, accent pieces, portable furniture, etc. where heavy loads are not applied.
- It is used in modular office furniture, children furniture, computer tables, and wardrobes in areas where they are not in contact with moisture.
- It can be used as shutters for various storage units, as laminated particle boards.
- It is also used as underlayment, flooring, wall paneling, and partitioning.
Solid (Natural) Wood
Solid Wood has known to last for centuries, as it can be sanded several times, over its lifetime.
HDF is very durable material, it can last many years without getting damaged.
In dry environment, they last up to 10 years. Laminated MDF can last for 15-20 years, after that it has to be replaced.
Solid (Natural) Wood
As it is natural material, it is scarce and hence, most expensive as compared to the other engineered wood.
As blockboard uses strips of softwood, it is more costly than HDF, but cheaper than plywood.
HDF is expensive as compared to MDF as more pressure is applied, during its manufacturing.
Particle Board is the cheapest type of engineered wood.
The popular manufacturers of engineered wood or composite wood are as follows: