When it comes to wood roofing, flooring, furniture, wall sheathing people tend to go for manufactured wood rather than solid wood due to the various qualities of manufactured wood. When I was searching for good wood to make a door, I came to know that manufactured wood is the one that perfect according to my purposes. So, I was researched manufactured wood, its qualities and already used it for many woodworking projects.
So, What Is Manufactured Wood?
Here is what I’ve found:
Manufactured wood is a modified and improved wood that is made by combining and pressing different wood pieces together with other ingredients like glue and sawdust. The top layer of manufacturing wood is real wood that is covered with melamine protection and under that, there is a wood composite layer mostly called Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).
But there is a lot more you need to know about what is manufactured wood. There are lots of types and lots of good and bad qualities you meet when working with manufactured wood.
So, in this article, I’ll deeply dig into hot frequently asked questions about manufactured wood like what the uses of manufactured wood are, good and bad qualities of manufactured wood, differences between manufactured wood and solid wood, and how it differs from engineered wood and many more.
So, let’s keep going!
Types of Manufactured Wood
There are so many different types of manufactured wood available in the market right now. The most popular types of manufactured wood are,
- Particleboard or Chipboard
- Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
- Plywood or Laminated board
- Veneer wood
So, let’s discuss each of those manufactured wood types with their uses with pros and cons.
Particleboard or Chipboard
Particleboard is an inexpensive low dense flat board made by bonding adhesives with sawdust and resin. It is popular for low-cost manufacturing. Woodworkers mostly add veneer to improve its strength, to give an enhanced look, and to make it more resistant to stains.
Uses of Particleboards are,
- Low-end furniture
- Wall paneling
- False ceiling
- Core material for doors
As you can see particleboard is multitasking cheap wood with lots of benefits. As a manufactured wood, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of particle board or chipboard.
Pros and Cons of Particleboard or Chipboard
|Low cost and great for low-end furniture||Less durability|
|Nails hold easily||Less strength|
|Lightweight||Poor water resistance|
|Renewable||Cannot use for heavy loads|
|Can easily laminate||No eco friendly|
|Does not distort or dent easily||Can be toxic|
|Maintenance is easy|
|Gives a smooth flat surface|
By looking at the uses, pros, and cons of particleboard, you can get an idea about what is manufactured wood and why they became so popular nowadays.
Fiberboard is a dense board compared to other manufactured wood types. It is much resistant to breaking and chipping. Fiberboards are manufactured by chopping wood into small pieces and heating them until becoming fibers. After that those fibers dry and bond together with adhesives to form fiberboards.
Uses of Fiberboard are,
- Roofing material
- Furniture making
- Doors, cabinets, and other home interiors
So, let’s talk about the pros and cons of using fiberboards.
Pros and Cons of Fiberboard
|Durable||No water resistance|
|Staining and painting is easy||Does not hold nails well|
|Environmentally friendly||Installation time is high|
|Thermal insulation is high|
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Medium-density fiberboards are the most popular manufactured wood due to their great qualities. MDF is dense and the strength is also high. Relatively cheaper than solid woods. Medium density fiberboards are made of adhesives and sawdust. Firstly, they will dehydrate and heat. After that, they’ll bond together using resins to get the output. Finally, they’ll cut smoothly using giant machines to fixed dimensions.
Panelled wall behind our bed, all cut from a sheet of MDF & the chamfers and rounds hand planed. Caulked then left the Mrs to do her magic wae the paintbrush 😍🔥 pic.twitter.com/87Te0Cm8Mf— Mark Evans 🇬🇧 (@_MarkEvanss) August 2, 2021
When we look at the uses of MDF, there are many.
Uses of medium density fiberboards (MDF) are,
- Furniture making
- Doors and frames
Pros and Cons of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
|High workability (drilling is easy)||Less strength|
|Smooth surface||No water resistance|
|Hold nails well||Ned high maintenance|
|Hold better to hinges||No natural grain|
|Depiction is easy|
As you can see the advantages of medium density fiberboards (MDF) are relatively higher than other manufacturing woods.
This is why medium density fiberboards (MDF) are known as the best alternative for real wood.
I have worked with MDF over many years and most of them went pretty well even in manufacturing and maintaining. With proper maintenance, you can keep them for years without any issue.
Plywood or Laminated board
Plywood is known as the strongest manufactured wood. Plywood is manufactured by layering multiple layers of veneers until they create a sturdy and smooth solid board. Because of gluing veneers crosswire along the grain, shrinking and swelling properties will normalize. The quality and properties of plywood vary due to the number of veneers included.
Had string, plywood and now I have a box to hold plants pic.twitter.com/xq0iks4d6r— Njoki Wa Mwihaki (@NjokiMwihaki) July 31, 2021
Uses of Plywood are,
- Wall sheathing
- Interior walls
- Furniture making
Pros and Cons of Plywood or Laminated board
|Aesthetic look||Easily peeled off|
|High strength||Not resistant to insects|
|High durability||Expensive than MDF|
|High water resistance||Cutting is difficult|
|Can easily paint and polish|
The veneer is a thin wood that is pressed onto core panels. It is shaved from natural wood and bonded with chipboard, MDF, or plywood. It is thinner than 1/8 inches. There are lots of qualities of veneer with many uses. It is also used as an ingredient for other manufacturing wood types.
Uses of Veneer,
- Furniture making
Pros and Cons of Veneer wood
|Low cost||No water resistance|
|Aesthetic look||High maintenance|
|High strength and durability||Installation is difficult|
What is Manufactured Wood Use For?
Manufactured wood has become so popular because of its quality features over traditional wood types. Every type of manufactured wood is can easily be painted and stained. They hold nails well. By adding some resins and adhesive we can make them water-resistant and can more durable.
Because of those great customization abilities, manufactured wood is the best alternative for most of the real wood types. They are cheap and workability is high.
Manufactured woods are commonly used for,
- Furniture making
8' x 4" 18mm plywood board for both roof and floor at £35 a pop. I was advised throughout by my twin who is a building pro but one of the #Workaway volunteers who bult it for me was a time served German joiner so I was in safe hands. They did a lovely job. pic.twitter.com/5iPNHEAY5u— Brendan O'Neill (Writer/Director) (@Stickleback_Pro) August 1, 2021
Manufactured Wood in Flooring
Even though solid wood is the popular option when it comes to wood flooring, manufactured wood also does a great task for less amount of money. With some improvements, manufactured wood is the trending wood for flooring mainly because of the expensiveness of solid woods.
Manufactured wood has great qualities, and its durability is high. Because of having multiple layers of wood panels and placed this in crosswire direction, the strength is also considerably high in manufactured wood which is useful in flooring.
Most importantly, manufactured wood can easily paint and stain. It needs less care and lasts long easily.
Manufactured wood is harder than solid wood, because of that they have better resistance for scratches and dents, which is useful because floors have more chances to get dents and scratches.
Manufactured wood is excellent for flooring. But you need to select a high-quality manufactured wood for that. Otherwise, the whole floor will ruin due to one issue with the flooring wood. So, always make sure to get quality grade manufactured wood from the market for an important application like flooring.
So any cracks or holes or anything gets foam filled.— Danny (@Danny__D) August 4, 2021
There's a bit more framing in the entryway, but then the push is to get plumbing and electrical in.
These last few floor plywood pieces were affixed as well. pic.twitter.com/Nxs7ZmSQG9
Because of being able to paint and stain easily, cheap, environmentally friendly, manufactured wood is a perfect choice for wood flooring.
Manufactured Wood in Furniture making
Manufactured wood is pretty much applicable for all the furniture that we use in our day-to-day lives. Chairs, desks, cupboards, beds, racks, sofa, drawers, and many outdoor furniture can make by using manufactured wood.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and Plywood are the popular manufactured wood in furniture making.
The aesthetic look, workability, screwing and nailing ability, smoothness of the surface, ease to paint, make a manufactured wood a better choice for furniture than any other wood type.
Manufactured Wood in Decking
If you’re going to use manufactured wood for an outdoor application like decking, always use treated manufactured wood. Never use untreated manufactured wood for outdoor application. Manufactured wood does not have good water resistance.
The moisture levels in the outdoor environment can damage the wood easily. Water molecules can easily penetrate through manufactured wood and the wood will start to rot. So, always go for treated manufactured wood for decking and other outdoor applications.
What Is the Difference Between Manufactured Wood and Solid Wood?
Manufactured woods are made by humans to get the most of the solid wood qualities for low-cost and low-end applications.
Nowadays, manufactured wood has become a tough competitor for solid wood, because of having lots of useful properties same as solid wood. So, let’s have a look at how manufactured wood differs from solid wood in every single aspect.
|Property||Manufactured Wood||Solid Wood|
|Production||Multiple layers of wood, veneers, sawdust bind together||Real solid wood by cutting down fully grown trees|
|Thickness||Thickness between 3/8 inch to ½ inch. The standard thickness is 1 ¼ inch with 5 inches wide planks.||Mostly thickness is ¾ inches. The standard thickness is 2 ¼ inches with 5 to 11 inches wide planks.|
|Sanding (The Biggest Difference)||Can sand once or twice times maximum. Because the layers are too thin.||Can sand several times over years.|
|Stability||After few years the wood will loosen its strength and lose the stability||Have high stability and can use much longer time with less maintenance|
|Installation||Easy to install and can paint and stain easily||Difficult to install|
|Durability||Weaker than solid woods. The durability will lower over time because of thin layers and environmental changes||Have high durability and can use for years without any issue with less maintenance|
|Uses||Great for low-end applications||Can use for any woodworking project or any other application|
|Hardness||Most of the manufactured wood has less hardness||Most of the solid wood has high hardness|
|Sustainability||No eco friendly||Eco friendly because 100% natural|
From the above table of differences between manufactured wood and solid wood, we can clearly say that,
- Manufactured wood is thinner than solid wood
- Manufactured wood can’t sand several times as solid wood
- Solid wood has higher stability and durability than manufactured wood
- Manufactured wood is cheaper than most the solid wood
- Solid wood is lighter than manufactured wood
As you can see, manufactured wood is great for any application, but you need to always go for good quality grades.
I highly recommend manufactured wood for a beginner in woodworking because they’re inexpensive and you can practice well enough until you step onto the solid woods to work with.
Grades of Manufactured Wood
One of the most important things you need to consider when purchasing manufactured wood is its grades. Not like solid wood, if you mistakenly bought low-grade manufactured wood for a high-end woodworking application, you’ll have no solution to recover it without building another one from A to Z.
The main difference between grades of manufactured wood is the number of voids and knotholes in the wood. The amount of repairing need to cover defects determines the grades of manufactured wood. The quality of the adhesive is also a part of determining grade.
APA Engineered Wood Association method is the best available method to determine the grades of manufactured wood. So, here is the grading method,
|A||Highest quality Expensive Veneers are flawless Smooth Can easily be painted|
|B||High-quality Small patches Less smooth than grade A Minor flaws can easily repair|
|C||Knots are visible with a 1.5-inch diameter Discoloration happens easily Smooth patches|
|D||The quality can destroy within seconds due to defects Cheapest manufactured wood type Repairing is hard|
As you can see, the quality of manufactured wood varies dramatically along with its grades.
The grade you need to select depends on the type of application you going to use it. For example, when you’re planning to build cabinets, always go for A grade manufactured wood, because they easily hold screws and nails, and painting and staining are also easy than other grades. Because of having multiple thin wood layers in crosswire directions, the final woodworking application is strong, lightweight, and durable. Plywood is great for making cabinets because of having all those qualities.
Use MDF (medium density fiberboards) if you’re on a low budget. MDF is the most versatile wood among manufactured wood which is pretty much applicable for most of the woodworks.
Whatever manufacturing wood you use, always make sure to,
- Keep it clean
- High quality
- Keep away from moisture
- Clean cutting
- Give proper maintenance
Is Manufactured Wood Toxic?
Yes, Manufactured wood is toxic. Manufactured wood contains formaldehyde which is a carcinogen. They are toxic and can cause holes in the ozone layer. This is why some people don’t recommend manufactured wood for interior purposes.
Also, they contain high toxic VOC (volatile organic chemicals) like acetone, ethanol, propanol. These chemicals tend to release from the wood surface after few years of production and they are very bad for our health and the environment.
ALL Solid Wood Closet installation in Painted White finish. Absolutely NO particle board, melamine, or engineered wood that are all made with toxic formaldehyde. #closet #homeorganizer #getorganized #interiordesign #renovation #remodeling #homedecor #dreamhome #wood #interiors pic.twitter.com/qKBMhIVGla— Lundia USA (@LundiaUSA) October 21, 2019
Manufactured wood cannot be recycled and MDF and other wastages of manufactured wood directly send to landfills which causes lots of environmental issues. When they are incinerated, all the chemicals and other toxic substances will release into the environment and cause environmental pollution.
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: What is Manufactured Wood?
From this article, we have mainly focused on what is manufactured wood, what are the types of manufactured wood with their uses with advantages and disadvantages of each of them. Apart from that, we have shown the differences between manufactured wood and solid wood and why sometimes manufactured wood is better than going for solid wood.
As a full-time, woodworker, I always go for manufactured wood, whenever I’m making low-end furniture or whenever I’m on a low budget. With proper maintenance and finish, manufactured wood can easily surpass the qualities of solid wood. But always make sure they go for A grade high-quality manufactured wood after doing good research.
I think from this article I have answered all your questions about manufactured wood.
So, I highly recommend giving it a try with manufactured wood for your next woodworking project. Hope everything will go perfectly!