What is Manufactured Wood? | Types, Uses, Pros, and Cons

What is manufactured wood

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
  • Fiberboard
  • 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
  • Underlayment
  • Flooring
  • 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

ProsCons
Low cost and great for low-end furnitureLess durability
Nails hold easilyLess strength
LightweightPoor water resistance
RenewableCannot use for heavy loads
Can easily laminateNo eco friendly
Does not distort or dent easilyCan 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

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
  • Insulation
  • Soundproofing

So, let’s talk about the pros and cons of using fiberboards.

Pros and Cons of Fiberboard

ProsCons
DurableNo water resistance
Staining and painting is easyDoes not hold nails well
InexpensiveLess strength
Environmentally friendlyInstallation time is high
Lightweight 
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.

When we look at the uses of MDF, there are many.

Uses of medium density fiberboards (MDF) are,

  • Furniture making
  • Soundproofing
  • Roofing
  • Cabinetry
  • Doors and frames
  • Flooring

Pros and Cons of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

ProsCons
High workability (drilling is easy)Less strength
Smooth surfaceNo water resistance
Hold nails wellNed high maintenance
Hold better to hingesNo natural grain
Inexpensive 
Environmentally friendly 
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.

Read: Does Wood Glue Work on MDF? Everything You Need To Know!

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.

Uses of Plywood are,

  • Wall sheathing
  • Roofing
  • Flooring
  • Interior walls
  • Furniture making
  • Cabinetry

Pros and Cons of Plywood or Laminated board

ProsCons
Aesthetic lookEasily peeled off
High strengthNot resistant to insects
High durabilityExpensive than MDF
High water resistanceCutting is difficult
Can easily paint and polish 

Veneer wood

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,

  • Flooring
  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Furniture making
  • Artworks

Pros and Cons of Veneer wood

ProsCons
Low costNo water resistance
Aesthetic lookHigh maintenance
High strength and durabilityInstallation is difficult
Non-toxic 

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,

  • Roofing
  • Flooring
  • Furniture making
  • Decking

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.

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.

PropertyManufactured WoodSolid Wood
ProductionMultiple layers of wood, veneers, sawdust bind togetherReal solid wood by cutting down fully grown trees
ThicknessThickness 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.
StabilityAfter few years the wood will loosen its strength and lose the stabilityHave high stability and can use much longer time with less maintenance
InstallationEasy to install and can paint and stain easilyDifficult to install
DurabilityWeaker than solid woods. The durability will lower over time because of thin layers and environmental changesHave high durability and can use for years without any issue with less maintenance
CostInexpensiveExpensive
UsesGreat for low-end applicationsCan use for any woodworking project or any other application
HardnessMost of the manufactured wood has less hardnessMost of the solid wood has high hardness
WeightLightweightHeavy
SustainabilityNo eco friendlyEco 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,

GradeProperties
AHighest quality Expensive Veneers are flawless Smooth Can easily be painted
BHigh-quality Small patches Less smooth than grade A Minor flaws can easily repair
CKnots are visible with a 1.5-inch diameter Discoloration happens easily Smooth patches
DThe 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.

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!

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