When it comes to furniture-making, strength of material is as important as aesthetics. Good designs need a solid foundation, so wood remains a dependable and sturdy choice. However, the market is flooded with wood alternatives, including plywood. But which of the two is more suited for furniture in terms of cost, durability, sturdiness and aesthetic appeal? Read on to know about the pros and cons of wooden vs plywood-based furniture:
The homogeneous solid wood comes from deciduous trees, which include wide varieties like teak, oak wood, cherry, maple, mahogany and Indian rosewood. Plywood, on the other hand, is an engineered wood product manufactured by glueing individual layers of plies (called veneers) over one another.
Strength & durability
Being a homogenous material, solid wood is a more robust alternative to plywood. However, the type of wood also comes into play. For example, good quality hardwoods from deciduous trees are heavier, denser and sturdier than softwoods such as pine wood or mango wood.
Plywood is made up of artificially glued-together sheets and how strong it is largely depends on the ‘Glue shear strength’ or the ability of an adhesive to resist forces in the plane of the bonded surfaces. If this strength is low, then plywood plies can come apart. But when high-quality plywood (think hardwood veneers) is combined with glue of better shear strength, they are more durable.
Solid wood scores more than plywood in terms of aesthetics. Take the example of teak with its straight wood grain patterns and golden brown colour — it exudes tactility and warmth. On the other hand, most plywood is not decorative and requires additional labour, cost and effort to enhance its beauty.
Aftercare and maintenance
Solid, high-quality wood requires minimal aftercare. However, wood tends to darken over time and hence requires sanding and application of wood polish. This process helps breathe fresh life into wooden furniture, and it regains its original shine and colour.
Plywood, especially laminated surfaces, is much easier to maintain as they resist scratches. One needs just to wipe it with a clean, damp cloth. In addition, thicker laminates require less care as compared to thinner ones that are prone to damage.
Wood is costlier than plywood because of multiple reasons like:
- Higher demand, lower supply
- Ecological benefits
- Takes more time to mature
In short, plywood and solid wood have their own places in the furniture market.
Which furniture is more suited for wood or plywood?
Plywood is not suitable for shelves, wardrobe doors, etc., as longer pieces bend in the middle. But it works better for blackboards. Solid wood works best for cabinets, tables, beds and almost everything else.
On the whole, seasoned wood with natural grains is easy to craft and design. At Alankaram, we customise indigenous, minimalistic designs with precise joinery details, combining the strength of solid wood with a modern range of upholstery.