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Plywood or solid wood, which is better?


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The idea of solid wood as a symbol of strength has been passed on from generations. Even in culture, we are used to seeing solid wood structures and marvelling at their strength. However, advancements in woodcraft and science have given rise to a stronger, less wasteful, more versatile and eco-friendly alternative – plywood. Before we make up our mind, let’s find out how this is possible.

The science of strength

If you believe that solid wood is strong, you are absolutely right. Plywood, however, is even stronger. Strength of a wood panel – ply or solid, is based on how much stress it can withstand in bending, and how much pressure it can bear in the core. In bending, there is maximum stress on the outer panels and less at the core. In pressure, there is more stress in the centre and less in the core. Unlike solid wood, plywood is made up of various layers of wood – higher grade wood on the outside, and softer wood on the inside. It is this engineered weight displacement, achieved through years of research, that makes Plywood a superior, user friendly and reliable alternative to solid wood. That’s not all, with new techniques in finishing the wood, you might not even be able to tell the difference between the two when you look at them!

If that’s not convincing enough, here are seven more areas where Plywood beats Solid wood:

  1. Lighter: For all its strength, plywood is surprisingly so much lighter than solid wood. That makes plywood perfect for furniture-making. Heavier solid wood, meanwhile, can prove to be rather unwieldy when crafting furniture or when using it for other commercial applications.
  2. Cheaper: The price of plywood has always be lower than that of solid wood, making it a good value for money product.
  3. Greener: Although Plywood also uses wood, manufacturing a workable sheet of Plywood requires lesser wood than, well, solid wood products. That means more timber is conserved, and that makes plywood an eco-friendly product.
  4. Firmer: One of the great disadvantages of working with solid wood is its tendency to split along the grain, especially when you try to drive a nail or screw through it. Plywood, however, doesn’t split that easily because of its cross-layered structure.
  5. Customizable:Since plywood comes in larger dimensions than solid wood when it comes to square foot coverage, one standard plywood sheet alone would be big enough rather than multiple planks of solid wood to cover an area of a certain size. There will be no gaps or uneven ends and wastage will be very minimal. Unlike solid wood, plywood boasts of uniform strength along grains regardless of direction.
  6. Durable: The use of good veneers , adhesives, anti-rotting treatments and waterproofing treatments makes plywood very good at resisting sharp blows and all sorts of in-service abuse making it very durable.
  7. Reliable:Solid wood is prone to expansion and shrinkage which can cause splits and cracks, causing shakes thereby weakening its strength. Plywood in equivalent thickness will be at least twice as strong as Solid wood with better flexibility and improved dimensional stability, making it much more difficult to break under strain and can be reliably used for structural purposes.