‘Engineered wood’ seems to be one of the buzzwords in the furniture and flooring industry today. And it comes in various forms like MDF, Veneered wood, Composite wood and Plywood. But are all these materials, that sound like distant cousins of Solid wood, really wood? And what are the pros and cons of using them?
What Really Is Engineered Wood?
Engineered wood is created using a mix of wood fibers, sawdust, glue and other chemicals. MDF, for instance is sawdust and fibers bound together using glue. Their manufacturing process uses extremely high temperatures and pressure to bond the materials together.
Plywood is created by sticking thin layers of wood together. And Veneered wood is created by gluing a thin layer of wood over low grade timber, MDF or Plywood.
What’s Wrong With Engineered Wood?
Furniture made of engineered wood gets damaged easily and once damaged, it cannot be repaired, especially if it is scratched or has water-damage. Also, it cannot be used outdoors as it will absorb moisture and get damaged easily. Overall, furniture made from engineered wood isn’t long lasting and needs frequent replacement.
How Do You Identify Engineered Wood?
Apart from reading the product description carefully, one can also identify the use of engineered wood by the weight of the furniture in question. Also, in furniture made of engineered wood, if you look at the grain of the wood, the inside and outside of the furniture will not match. If you see uniform layers, you’re looking at plywood and if you notice a dense, cottony appearance in the wood, what you’re dealing with is MDF.
Why Use Solid Wood Instead?
Solid wood doesn’t have any of the problems that come with using engineered wood in your furniture. Furniture made from solid wood retains its appearance, can weather the elements better and ages gracefully. Also, any damage can be repaired easily, which is something that can’t be said about engineered wood.
Which One Is More Environmentally-Friendly?
Solid wood is much kinder to the environment than engineered wood. With increasing awareness among people, not only is more and more wood getting sourced from managed forests, it uses very little energy during its production (naturally), whereas engineered wood uses a huge amount of energy during its production and uses toxic materials like formaldehyde which are present in the glue compounds that it needs.