Advantages of Plywood

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Advantages of Plywood
Advantages of Plywood (Image: Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt)

Plywood has become an integral part of construction today. From its creation in the early 20th century, plywood has undergone a great deal of transformation and refinement over the years. It started as a curiosity that has since become a stable product in all forms of construction. There are many advantages that plywood has over more traditional lumber. This article will give you a detailed account of the history, types, functions and advantages of plywood a lumber construction product.

History

Plywood was first introduced in the market in the early 20th century. However, there is some evidence to suggest that ancient Egyptians and Romans created early versions of plywood with glue made from animal products. In modern history, however, the origins of plywood as a commercial product go back to the turn of the century in Portland, Oregon. Portland had a vibrant logging community and all the necessary components to create plywood on a mass scale. A man known as the pioneer of modern plywood, Thomas J. Autzen, created a process of gluing thinly sliced wood products together in such a way that they could be cheaply made and still retain strength. Over time. glues involving animal products were phased out, and stronger synthetic glues began to be used. Advances in technology allowed plywood boards to be fused under higher amounts of pressure, which prevents layers from flaking off or splitting. Today, plywood is used in almost every construction job on the planet.

Function

Plywood was designed to compensate for some of the inherit weaknesses in wood products. Each layer of plywood is laid with the grain turned in such a way that it reinforces the weak spots of the other layer. This creates a wood panel that is incredibly strong and durable.

Another advantage of plywood is that it is cheap to make. Because plywood doesn't rely on coming from a single piece of wood, the materials are much easier to gather. Less time and money must be spent on harvesting a single usable sheet of wood from a tree. Because of this, plywood can be created and sold for less money with significantly less wasted wood.

Types

There are several types of plywood. The most common are referred to as interior, exterior, structural and marine. It follows that interior plywood is for interior construction and is made of a quality that is acceptable for the inside of a home or office. Exterior is for using on the outside of a structure. Structural is created in such a way that its strength allows it to be used to support massive amounts of weight. Marine plywood is plywood that has been waterproofed and can be used for building boats.

Each of these types of plywood also has a grade quality ranging from A to D with A being the highest quality with the fewest imperfections and D being the lowest with many knots and splits being acceptable.

Benefits

One of the most touted benefits of plywood is in its incredible ease of use. Plywood can be cut and shaped with basic tools and very little experience. Because of the composition of plywood, shapes can be cut and started on any section of plywood. This allows an amateur builder to cut panels on an as-needed basis.

Plywood can also be reshaped and bent into shapes that are not flat with relative ease. Compared to other wood products, plywood can change and retain shape very easily and can be done so without the threat of splitting or warping. This allows builders to create rounded walls with plywood that would not be possible with regular lumber.

Size

The vast majority of plywood comes in 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets. Because of its robust nature, plywood can be cut to size or nailed together side by side on a frame. Commercially it is usually available only in this particular size, though certain lumber companies will create custom-sized plywood panels at an additional cost to the consumer.

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