Plywood vs natural wood – Which one you prefer. The vast  Engineered wood category includes mass timbercomposite woodman-made wood, or manufactured board, which can be a wood derivative or manufactured by binding or fixing the strands, particles, fibres, or veneers together with adhesives or other fixation methods. The most widely accepted engineered wood available in the market is Natural wood and its alternatives like Plywood, MDF, HDF, etc. But plywood is always considered as the most preferred wood alternative. Why plywood is preferred? This article is about a comparison of properties of Natural wood and plywood.

Also read : Plywood Types – MR resistant, BWR and BWP/Marine ply

Plywood vs Natural wood

Plywood and natural wood are the most commonly used materials for interior works, furniture, kitchen cabinets, decks, facades, ceilings, etc. Both these products possess excellent strength and are flexible, affordable, and workable. Plywood is the most extensively used wood substitute because of its flexibility, strength, and excellent screw holding capacities.

Natural wood

Solid wood is the natural wood and is obtained from trees. The trees are felled and cut in sawmills as per the required size and fabricated as per requirements. Amongst the most popular solid woods are teak wood, oak wood, cherry, maple, mahogany, and Indian rosewood, etc.

Plywood

Plywood is a manufactured wood panel made from thin natural wood called veneers sliced from hardwood or softwood. These core veneers are glued in layers one on top of the other with adjacent layers having their wood grains rotated up to 90 degrees to one another. The cross layering of adjacent layers imparts structural strength and stability to plywood. These veneers are bonded together with glue and pressed under high pressure and heated to form plywood.

plywood interiors
Plywood interiors

Plywood vs natural wood – Strength

PlywoodNatural wood
Cross veneer layers are responsible
or the strength and stiffness both long and across grains. Plywood bends on loads when placed horizontally.
Solid wood is 20 times stronger along the grains. They are much stiffer than plywood. Wood do not
bend on loads.
Veneer layers are glued together and hence ply layers may debond due to low glue shear strength.Solid wood is a homogeneous and dense material and much stronger than plywood.
The quality depends on the type of wood used and the number of ply layers. Plywood made of gurjan wood is extremely strong.Some solid wood like teak etc posses high density and with proper maintenance can last hundreds of years.

Solid wood is much stronger than any other engineered wood and no alternative can match it.

Shrinkage

PlywoodNatural wood
Plywood does not shrink due to the
cross-layered arrangement of veneers.
Timber shrinks across the grains

Appearance and aesthetic looks

PlywoodNatural wood
Plywood is not a decorative
material. For wooden looks, they
have to be faced with decorative veneers.
Designers always prefer
the beauty of wood over any
other material.
The natural grains gives a classy
and elegant look that never can
be matched with any other material.
Plywood finishes are
provided through coatings,
PU paints laminates and veneers.
Wood finishes are through planing
and polishing Some wood varieties
like teak wood got unique grains
and maintain classy looks for years.

Durability

PlywoodNatural wood
The plywood grades determine
the durability. MR resistant grade
is good for interior works, BWR
grade is good for external
works,kitchen cabinets,
bathrooms interiors, etc
whereas marine ply is durable
and highly water-resistant.
Natural wood is everlasting if
protected and maintained properly. The durability depends on the type
of wood. Hardwood like teak
wood is extremely strong
and dense and requires minimal maintenance,
whereas softwood like pine needs
frequent maintenance
Plywood can last for years if maintained
properly and protected using laminate
veneers or paints
Plywood cannot match the durability of wood.

Plywood vs Natural wood – Costs

Good quality solid wood is very costly when compared to plywood. The usage of wood is getting restricted due to acts against deforestation and
environmental issues. The scarcity of wood and high costs sidelined natural wood as a non-affordable option. On the other hand, plywood is cheap and got plenty of varieties to manage your budget and requirements and is easily available.

Kitchen cabinet

Sheet material applications

Plywood has an extra hand over wood in the case of sheet material applications like wardrobes, partitions, and cabinets.
The maximum size of wood panels depends on the size of the tree. Wood has to be joined for sheet material applications whereas plywood is available in large sheet sizes and can be easily cut and used. Plywood can reduce the joints and give a seamless look. Wood has to be jointed and tends to crack along the joints.

Flexibility and workability

Ply wood can be bend easily where as it is very difficult to bend solid wood.It is very strong and the thinner cuts are easy to work with.Plywood never splits on edges while nailing and posses good screw holding capacity whereas timber used to split on edges on nailing. Ply wood can be easily cut into any shapes and sizes. Plywood are easy to paint or polish. The plywood surface is smooth and any kind of veneer or laminate can be pasted with the help of adhesives. This flexibility makes plywood one of the most versatile material.

Wood, on the other hand, can be planed whereas plywood cannot be planed The edges of the plywood looks rough and has to be covered or coated to look good. Wood possesses excellent screw holding capacity.

Maximum usage of materials

The plywood manufacturing process achieves complete utilisation of the log than timber which is available in logs and the utilisation is only 50-70%. No sawdust results from either rotary cutting or slicing (the two most popular methods of cutting veneer).

Environmental concerns

Natural wood is obtained by felling trees. This leads to deforestation and degradation of environment.

Uses of Natural wood and plywood

Solid wood is commonly used to make the wooden framed structures as well as in flooring. It is also used in the manufacturing of highly durable furniture items for indoor and outdoor use. In the homes and buildings, it is also used for the doors, and window frames. It is also used in ships, aircraft, millwork, ladders, boxes, crates and much more.

Conclusion

Wood is the best material in terms of strength and durability. But high costs, less design options, high labour charges etc is the main disadvantage. Plywood is readily available,can match any customer requirement, cheap and affordable. Plywood is better in terms of flexibility, workability and costs.