Posted on: 23 October 2018Share
If you're renovating your kitchen and have been researching flat-pack kitchens, you've probably come across such terms like particleboard, veneer and MDF and wondered what all these different materials are. While they are all wood products of sorts, they differ in how they emerge from a simple tree.
Sawn Wood Or Lumber
Solid wood is just as it sounds, sawn wood or lumber. Typically, after chemical treatment to protect it from water and insects, the lumber is measured, graded and stacked to dry out. Timber grading is mostly based on appearance; imperfections and defects in the grain lead to lower gradings; however, its strength is also important, particularly if destined for construction.
Rather than being sawn into relatively thick chunks, a log can be sliced into fine sheets, commonly ranging from 0.5–1.0 mm. These fine sheets of wood, called veneer, are shaved from a log in a couple of ways; they can be sliced or sawn using a custom knife or tapered saw, or they can be rotary cut in a lathe. This is when a log is rotated against a knife blade that effectively peels the wood from the outer to the inner sections, much as an apple is peeled.
Attractive timber veneer can be glued to the outer edges of other materials on cabinet doors and other furniture items. Alternatively, multiple layers of veneer can be glued together, forming panels of laminated wood and plywood.
Laminated Wood And Plywood
Both laminated wood and plywood consist of layers of glued veneer, often shaped as panels. The difference between laminated wood and plywood lies in the way the veneers are arranged before pasting. If all the veneer sheets are glued with the wood grains parallel, the result is laminated wood. On the other hand, if the layers of veneer are arranged so the grain of each sheet crosses at right angles to the previous sheet, the result is plywood.
Plywood is commonly overlaid with attractive hardwood veneer or a plastic such as melamine and is used for cabinets, panelling and furniture. Laminated wood also features in the construction industry, and is sometimes also destined for furniture.
Particleboard And Fibreboard (MDF)
While both laminated wood and plywood are constructed from glued wood veneer sheets, particleboard and fibreboard are constructed from other wood products—from wood particles and fibres respectively. Wood particles that constitute particle board might include sawmill shavings, wood chips and possibly sawdust. These elements, after being combined with a binding material such as a resin and additives for protection from water and other hazards, are pressed and extruded to form panels of particleboard.
A denser, stronger panel than particleboard is created when the wood residue from a sawmill is pulped and processed into separated fibres which are then mixed with wax and resin before the composite is heated to high temperatures and pressured into panels of medium-density fibreboard (MDF). Both particleboard and MDF are used for many things, including shelves, benches, table tops, storage units and cabinet doors.
All these wood products are excellent for kitchen furniture. Panels created from wood veneers are durable and water resilient; using veneers provides flexibility, and types of wood veneers can be used for the inner and outer sections of the panels. Particleboard and fibreboard utilise sawmill residue that might otherwise go to waste, such as wood chippings. Treatment is required to protect the panels from water damage and to strengthen them overall.
If you're interested in DIY kitchens, you've probably seen all these terms cropping up when researching cabinets, benchtops and tables. Knowing what they all refer to will help you to make the best choices when shopping for your kitchen renovation.