Wood worth

Which wood? Wood or ply? Ply or board? Here is a snapshot of the available options.

By Rakesh Rai | Print Edition: January 25, 2007

Time was when the term wood work meant windows and doors in a house—with a few cabinets thrown in here and there. Furniture—the other big user of wood—did not have to change completely when you built your home. The advent of apartments and new designs has expanded the scope of wood work way beyond doors and windows to include almost every wardrobe and cupboard in the house, including the ones in the bathroom and kitchen. Along with expansion in usage has come new choices. Wood work is no more about wood alone—it includes boards, ply, veneers … and so on.

Among pure wood, teak rules the market. It’s the most commonly used hard wood for decorative purposes. Priced at about Rs 700 per sq ft it is used in cabinets, doors and frames. It has high dimension stability, which prevents it from warping as seasons vary. The wood needs to be lacquered to bring out its natural sheen. Rose wood (Rs 1,000 per sq ft) is used mostly for furniture. It has beautiful grains, and is very stable and durable. For those with money, a better option is Burma teak (around Rs 1,100 per sq ft). Few builders still recommend it. Manufactured from thin sheets of crosslaminated veneer and bonded under heat and pressure with strong adhesives, plywood has been one of the most ubiquitous building products in recent years.

Plywood has almost ubiquitous usability and comes in wide range of pricing and product categories. Another option is particle board. This is not typical wood and is one of the more recent materials being used in the construction industry.

Particle board is made from wood particles, as opposed to wood fibres or sheets of wood. Its lightweight and versatility lends itself to several applications. These products are primarily used for structural purposes—wall bracing and flooring—in the construction market. Some of the larger particle boards are being used for wall lining and tabletops.


 HardwoodCost: Rs 200-1,000 per sq ft
Options: Teak (Rs 700 per sq ft), shisham (Rs 350 per sq ft), mango (Rs 250 per sq ft)
Features: Maximum range for all budgets. Can be adapted to a number of styles—contemporary, classical, plain or panel
Usage: Furniture, doors, panelling
Keep in Mind
- Durability depends on quality of wood
- Opt for well-seasoned wood They will retain their dimension in all seasons
- Polish every year; sanding and sealing every three years 
 PlywoodCost: Rs 21-125 per sq ft
Options: Available in 4-25 mm thickness. Varieties include zero gap, marine, film coated, chequered
Features: Light weight; high-end varieties come with a lifetime guarantee
Usage: Furniture partitions, panelling, false ceilings, semi-exterior applications
Keep in Mind
- Can discolour if exposed to extreme heat or sunlight
- Go for a higher thickness board for exteriors or kitchen and bathrooms to prevent warping, or twisting
- Plywood can be curved easily for use in chair backs, domes
 VeneersCost: Rs 50-200 per sq ft
Options: Available in 4 mm boards in wide range of design, colour, shades and grains
Features: Offer colour and grain consistency matching most domestic and exotic wood species; superior surface finish
Usage: Furniture; panelling of all kind
Keep in Mind
- Durability depends a lot on the quality of the wood base
- Good workmanship important—for clear finishing, proper sealing and colour matching required
- Use of high-quality core makes it termite resistant
 LaminatesCost: Rs 400-600 for an 8x4 ft board
Options: Available mostly in 8x4 ft boards of 4 mm thickness
Features: Consists of layers of kraft paper treated and fused together; a range of patterns, shades and finish like steel, silk, leather, waves or vertical lines to choose from
Usage: Flooring, drawers or cabinets
Keep in Mind
- Check the grade of the laminate, higher grades mean better wearing capacity
- Replacements for uncommon designs may be difficult
- Wearing capacity will be affected if laminate surface is damaged
 Particle BoardCost: Rs 35-80 per sq ft
Options: Available in 19-25 mm boards
Features: High abrasion resistance; does not warp or sag; termite and fungus proof; has excellent acoustic properties
Usage: Furniture, cupboards, shutters, wardrobes, shelves, table tops, cabinets
Keep in Mind
- Comes in standard sizes, customised in the factory depending on requirement
- Wood cannot be recut or reused later
- For use in humid consitions, check if rubber based adhesive has been used

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