Everything You Need to Know About Plywood

When it comes to interior design, be it your house, office, commercial space wood is preferably the best choice. Glass or metal could provide a sleek and modern ambiance, but they have their shortcomings too. Glass needs very high maintenance and care, and metals, though sturdy, comes off cold and impersonal. On the other hand, Wood, being a natural product, adds warmth, and Hence, wood is the best choice.

Wood has been serving us for hundreds of years. We have used woods for almost everything homes to offices, commercial space or places of worship. It has been an intricate part of interiors almost everywhere around the globe. It has been a classic and timeless choice of material. However, the availability of solid wood has become scarce with our ever-growing population and hence, there has been a definite shift from traditional wood to the more durable engineered wood products that provide the same strength and durability of wood but at much lower cost and at the same time being environmentally friendly.

One such engineered wood is plywood. Plywood offers the same durability and strength as solid wood but is significantly more eco-friendly and therefore economical. It reduces the wastage associated with solid wood by over 100%. In addition, furniture made from plywood in combination with decorative veneer is sturdy and provides warmth, elegance, and aesthetics to your interiors.

What is plywood ?

Plywood is one of the most widely recognized multi-purpose engineered wood-based panel products used in interior works. Plywood binds resin and wood fibre sheets to form a composite material sold in panels.

A typical plywood panel has face veneers of a higher grade than the core veneers. The function of the core layers is to increase the separation between the outer layers where the bending stresses are highest, improving resistance to bending forces.

How is plywood made ?

Plywood panels are fabricated from multiple layers or plys of softwood veneer glued together with the grain direction of each layer of veneer perpendicular to that of the adjacent layers. These cross laminated sheets of wood veneers are fastened together with a waterproof phenol-formaldehyde resin adhesive and cured under heat and pressure.

The most common dimension is 4 feet x 7 feet & 4 feet x 8 feet Plywood varies in thickness, the most common being (0.6) inch. There is a wide variety of choices when it comes to plywood, ranging from smooth, natural surfaces suitable for finish work to more economical unsanded grades used for sheathing. This includes several common thickness 3mm, 4 mm, 6mm, 8mm, 12mm, 15mm, 18mm, 21mm and 25mm.

What is plywood used for ?

While plywood is commonly used in shelves, kitchen cabinets, headboard, tv units, wardrobes and walls implementations, here are some unique implementations of plywood that you can use for your upcoming projects :

Laminate : Covering plywood with laminates is a super common option. It is very widely used at homes, offices, stores and restaurants. Laminates can be of various colors and textures. The wooden textured laminates are in demand as they impart a classical look to space.

Wallpaper : Various wallpapers can be on ply backing. Always remember while using wallpaper on ply, it is a must to make a ply surface semi-smooth with Acrylic – Putty and one coat of primer.

Painting : It is easy to paint. It is popular to apply various paints on plywood in case the surface is to be painted.

Branding : Putting vinyl branding on plywood surfaces is ‘in thing’. Any image of your choice can be printed on a vinyl surface and the same can be fixed on plywood panels. Surface preparation is the same as wallpaper fixing.

Back Paint Glass : The back-painted glass fixing on the plywood backing is a popular trend. It is used as a kitchen dado in residential interiors and column cladding in corporate interiors.

Fabric panels : If improving the acoustic property of the space is what you want, the application of fabric panels on plywood is recommended. These panels are easily fixed on ply backing.

Types of Plywood

Basic Type :

  1. MR grade is also known as Commercial Plywood for internal use.
  2. BWR grade Waterproof Plywood for exterior use.
  3. BWP grade is also known as Marine Plywood.

Types of wood used :

  1. Hard wood – Harder and Stronger.
  2. Soft wood – Lighter and Weaker.

Other Types :

  1. Flexible Plywood that can bend.
  2. Film- faced shuttering plywood for Industrial use.
  3. Structured Plywood for Industrial use.
  4. Fire retardant Plywood – Internal and External grade plywood.

Plywood Grades

What is MR grade plywood ?

MR grade plywood stands for Moisture Resistant plywood and is also known as Commercial plywood in India. It is best suitable for indoor use and is an interior grade plywood. Although, the MR plywood is capable of resisting moisture and humidity, it is important to understand that it is not completely waterproof. It is a popular plywood used in the interior design industry and has great internal strength. It is an important ingredient for all types of home, office or commercial space furniture/cabinet. The plywood has high internal density making it robust and resistant to folding.

MR Plywood_Moisture Resistant Plywood_Interior Era

Application of MR Grade Plywood

MR plywood is best suited for use in areas that have high exposure to water and moisture. Used extensively in interior settings, is used for making kitchen rooftops, shelves and cabinets, doors and chairs used in homes or offices. It is also used on bathrooms and restrooms for doors, shelves and racks as these areas are constantly exposed to moisture.

Benefits of MR Grade Plywood

  1. Has uniform strength.
  2. Available in large sizes compared to solid wood which makes it easier to produce customised furniture and fittings.
  3. MR plywood is further available in a number of varieties such as flexible plywood. This can be bent to form curved surfaces and gives you the freedom to experiment with home or office decors and interiors.
  4. This plywood is highly economical with the best possible good quality of wood.

What is BWR Plywood ?

Boiling Water Resistant plywood can resist water, making it a perfect choice for home, office and commercial space furnishing. The warp-free plywood is ideal because of cohesive bonding and good quality phenolic resins. Advanced technology and chemicals are used on the surface core layer to ensure the plywood is free from pests and termites. Moreover, this plywood is also known because it has zero surface core gaps.

Application of BWR Grade Plywood

BWR is a grade of plywood that can resist boiling water up to a certain extent. They are good choices for areas that are prone to water spillages and high moisture, especially for the making of modular kitchen cabinets. BWR plywood are superior to the MR plywood and is much more weather-resistant, which warrants their slight premium on price. BWR plywood are also suitable for semi-outdoor uses, for the manufacture of lawn chairs, garden tables, and for furniture in areas such as the terrace and the balcony. BWR plywood can also resist moisture from water seepage in the walls, which can potentially cause rotting and warping of your furniture.

Benefits of BWR Grade Plywood

  1. Ideal for humid climatic conditions.
  2. You can use furnishing for indoor, semi-outdoor, and outdoor purposes.
  3. BWR plywood works best due to its super-strong bonding.
  4. It has zero surface core gaps and warp-free.
  5. The water-resistant technology works better than moisture-resistant (MR) graded ply.
  6. The core layer of BWR plywood includes several chemicals making it free from termite infestation.

What is BWP Plywood ?

The name Boiling Water Proof plywood explains that this type of plywood can withstand a moist environment. Such plywood is ideal for constructing wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, under-basin storage, washroom cabinet, and more. Places like the kitchen and washroom are prone to water and moisture, but this marine-grade ply can withstand such an environment without damage or deterioration.

Durability is one of the primary reasons why people choose this ply. At least 3 to 4 veneers are glued together with strong adhesive to enhance quality and longevity. Phenolic glue and melamine glue both go into making this plywood. However, even if it only included melamine glue for formation, it could withstand boiling water for 8 hours straight without damage. The better the glue quality, the longer it can withstand the pressure.

Application of BWP Grade Plywood

BWP, also known as marine grade plywood and gurjan ply, is the best in terms of durability, strength, water resistance, nail holding capability. versatile boiling waterproof marine grade plywood. These marine grade plywood can withstand boiling water for up to 72 hours. Emphasizing high quality and precision, it boasts some of the best-selling boiling waterproof plywood that comes with Virashield protection and is protected against borer, termite, and fungus. It’s used for Outdoor furniture, Areas exposed to moisture, both inside and outside, Interior design and fittings, Woodwork and joinery, Furniture and kitchen cabinet.

Benefits of BWP Grade Plywood

  1. BWP plywood can withstand very high temperatures and extreme moisture
  2. Preservatives and chemical components keep it free from pests and termite
  3. It can resist boiling water, harsh climate, and dry heat
  4. It can withstand all weather conditions due to its strength

What is FR Grade Plywood ?

Fire Retardant plywood is a type of plywood which is treated with special fire retardant chemicals at the time of manufacture, so that it becomes better at resisting fires. It is also known as FR grade plywood. surface spread of flames and flames penetration by suitable chemical treatment.

Fire retardant characteristics are a very important property to prevent propagation of fire at the initial stages. Flame penetration: The time taken for flame penetration shall not be less then 15 minutes for every 6mm thickness. Rate of burning: The time taken to lose weight from 30 percent shall not be less then 20 minutes. Flammability: The time taken for second ignition shall not be less then 30 minutes.

Application of FR Grade Plywood

It is commonly used in public places, where the risk of fire has to be reduced such as for making the woodwork in the kitchens of large restaurants, or for the interior woodwork done in public theatres and halls, and the wood used in the railway compartments of our trains. It can also be used in homes and offices, and any other such places where the risk and spread of the fire have to be reduced. Chemicals such as diammonium hydrogen phosphate, are used to make fire retardant plywood. The addition of fireproofing chemicals gives the plywood better-fireproofing qualities such as,

  1. Lesser tendency of spark and ignite.
  2. Slow burning, having a decreased tendency of the fire to spread over the surface of the plywood.
  3. Low flammability and lesser smoke generation.
  4. Higher flame penetration time.

Benefits of FR Grade Plywood

  1. Bend Resistant
  2. Intense Screw Holding
  3. Barrier Against Fire
  4. Extra Strong
  5. Fire Retardant
  6. Eliminates Toxic Smoke
  7. Delay Temperature Rise
  8. Fire Retardant Chemicals

Final thoughts

Homeowners have a common confusion when choosing between MR, BWP plywood and BWR plywood or FR grade to make their interior cabinets & furnishing products. One simple thing you need to remember is that MR grade is best choice for interior work, BWR denotes a waterproof exterior grade, and BWP denotes an exterior grade waterproof blockboard. All the above mentioned plywood offer quality and durability. Thus, depending on the furniture type, furnishing placement, pricing, and other relevant factors, you have to select one.