For some years now, wood has received an increasing amount of attention in the construction industry. With concerns raised about sustainability and the carbon footprint of buildings, new construction methods and innovative possibilities in the use of timber have developed rapidly. The sheet materials are now gaining extreme popularity due to their versatility. In buildings, sheet materials are used for flooring, walls and roofs. They are also used in furniture, with thinner sheets used as the back panel of bookshelves to provide rigidity. Here we are discussing different types of sheet materials and their usages.
What are sheet materials?
Sheet materials are structural and non-structural panels engineered from both solid timber and recycled timber using different types of adhesives. The most widely used products in construction are plywood, medium-density fibreboard (MDF) particleboard (chipboard) and oriented strand board (OSB). Sheet materials are manufactured from solid timber and/or from recycled timber with the addition of an adhesive.
What are the different types of sheet materials and their use?
The basics you need to know about Plywood is that it’s a sheet material which is brought to life by combining layers of wood veneer, which are glued together. Each adjoining layer is rotated up to 90 degrees in a process we call cross-graining. Plywood as a building material is very widely used due to its many useful properties. It is an economical, factory-produced sheet of wood with precise dimensions that does not warp or crack with changes in atmospheric moisture. Originally, the term “plywood” referred only to wood panels made of multi-layered veneer, laid with their grain perpendicular to adjacent layers, and bonded together with glue.
Uses of plywood
- Plywood can be a very practical and cost-effective material for building furniture.
- Can be used to sheath roofs and as a subfloor on many internal flooring projects
- Great for making cabinet carcasses for kitchens, bedrooms and more
- Due to its versatility, plywood is great for many other home projects from building skateboard ramps, to rabbit hutches to dog houses.
- Good for wood panelling or framing interior stud walls
Particleboard, or chipboard, is made from wood chips, often recycled, compressed together with resin to give a smooth, knot-free surface. Different grades and thicknesses are available for use in a variety of structural and non-structural applications. Particleboard is manufactured in a continuous production line, where layers of fine particles and coarser chips are coated in glue, layered, compressed and hardened with the application of heat. The fine particles give the finished product a surface suitable for finishing with paint, for example. Due to a process whereby particles are sprinkled on a conveyor and partially align themselves in the direction of travel, the particleboard has slightly different properties along its width and its length.
Uses of Particleboards
- Often overlooked material that can be used in cabinetry to save money
- Particleboard can be used for all built-in shelving.
- when construction projects are all stone, masonry or concrete, particleboard is used
Melamine coated boards
The melamine layer on coated boards is made by compressing several layers of paper impregnated with plastic and applying heat to harden it. This creates a very thin surface layer. The thin melamine layer provides a durable surface for decorative effects. The most common combination is a melamine layer on particleboard. Moisture-related movements can vary a little between the particleboard and the melamine layer, which is why it is best that both sides of the particle board are coated. If just one side is coated, the board may warp. Melamine coated boards are used in applications such as furniture and interior fittings.
Uses of Melamine coated boards
- When constructing frames and kitchen cabinets
- Construction of bespoke cabinets, wardrobes and other bedroom furniture
- Matching other interior design choices and ideal for shelving
MDF is medium density fiberboard, which is basically engineered wood obtained by breaking down hardwood and softwood composites. Since it is made up of small wood fibres, there are no visible wood grains or knots. The fibres are joined together, using wax to produce panels by applying pressure or high temperature. e. The resulting smooth wood product has no wood grain and shares many characteristics with particleboard. However, MDF is slightly stronger particleboard. You can purchase MDF in a variety of thicknesses and grades. It’s the material typically used in ready-made furniture, cabinets, shelves in storage units and decorative wall cladding.
Uses of MDF
- Decorative projects
- Speaker boxes
- Doors and door frames
- Trade Show booths and theatre set construction
Oriented strand board
OSB consists of resin-bonded sheets made up of small, thin strands of wood, compressed into layers to form a mat. It has good dimensional stability and no knots or voids in the structure.
Different grades and thicknesses are available, which mean that this product is suitable for use in a wide range of structural and non-structural applications.
Uses of OSB
- Used for flooring
- Roof Sheathing
- Furniture such as tables, shelves, and cabinets
Made from wood fibre extracted from chips or pulped wood waste. Non-structural products for internal use such as flooring, underlay and shopfitting, although enhanced performance hardboards can be used where higher strength is needed. Enhanced boards find applications as components within structural members eg, I-beams, exterior soffits and signage.
Uses of Hardboard
- Making musical instruments
- Outdoor Decking
Blockboard is essentially an edge-glued panel that is reinforced with symmetrically bonded veneer or fibreboard. For bookshelves, a blockboard gives the load-bearing capacity of the edge-glued panel and the appearance and surface properties of the veneer or hard fibreboard.
Blockboard is described according to the base material (pine staves for example) and the type of surface layer (veneer, fibreboard, melamine). An example is “laminboard” where the board is used to mean wet process fibreboard.
Uses of blockboard
- For shelving such as long bookshelves, worktops as heavier structure
- For window, door shutter, flush door.
- For making wall furniture.
Chipboard is made by bonding together wood particles with an adhesive under heat and pressure to form a rigid board with a relatively smooth surface. Chipboard is available in a number of densities; normal, medium and high-density. Normal density is fairly soft and ‘flaky’, high-density is very solid and hard (often used for worktops and fire doors) – medium density is somewhere in between.
Uses of Chipboard
- Kitchen worktops
- Basic structures of kitchen cabinets.
- Flooring and flooring insulation/underlay.
- Flatpack furniture
- Building insulation.
Wood-based sheet materials are versatile products for construction and interiors. From boards to beams, to floors, and even to thermal and acoustic tiles and insulators, sheet materials can be used in several different stages of a single project and with different degrees of processing and finishing. The one thing to keep in mind before choosing a sheet material for your purpose is to opt for a better wood cut to size service. Cut and Edge is one of the finest options in London for cutting and edging services.