What is Engineered Wood?

Engineered wood goes by many names and accounts for a huge variety of products. Because of this, it can be hard to follow what exactly engineered wood is. Engineered wood is simply any manufactured wood product where the strands, particles, or fibers of the wood are binded or fixed together with adhesives. These fibers can be smaller than wood chips or as large as full length veneers or boards. Used in the home, in commercial buildings, and in industry, engineered woods or composite woods are produced and tested to meet specific national and international standards. And, because it is “man-made wood”, these manufactured boards can be created in any size, length, thickness, and durability.

Although engineered wood is often referred to as “man-made wood,” the title is a bit of a misnomer. Composite woods are, after all, usually made out of the same hard and softwoods that are also used in lumber, and they come in numerous designs. They are easy to work with and provide the same warmth and beauty as traditional, solid wood products. They’re also strong. Composite woods often outperform steel in a pound to pound comparison and thus can offer more design options to builders without sacrificing structural soundness.

Here at TimberTown we supply many different types of engineered wood. From the “original” engineered wood product: plywood, to engineered hardwood flooring and composite decking. However, engineered wood comes in many different forms. Oriented strand board (OSB), glued laminated timber (glulam), laminated veneer lumber (LVL), cross-laminated timber (CLT), parallel strand lumber (PSL), laminated strand lumber (LSL), finger-jointed, I-beams, and roof trusses are all examples of the huge variety of products found within the engineered wood family.

However, no great product is without its disadvantages, and composite wood is no exception. One of the problems with this material is right in its many names: “engineered,” “manufactured,” “man-made.” Engineered wood is simply harder on the environment than solid lumber because it requires more energy in manufacturing. These types of woods are also found to often burn faster than solid wood and in some cases can catch fire and burn quite quickly. Their adhesives are also a concern because many can be toxic and some even contain and release formaldehyde. This can be a real concern for the workers who cut or otherwise deal with these products regularly. Finally, many particle boards and other engineered interior wood products may be prone to absorbing water and warping.

As with all construction materials, engineered wood has its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re considering engineered wood in your next project, come in an talk with the experts at TimberTown and let us help you find the perfect product for any project.

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