What is Manufactured Wood? Types, Uses, & Differences with Solid Wood

Particle Board

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Having authentic wood furniture may sound so appealing with its authentic feel, but it can be so expensive. What if we tell you that there’s an alternative option: one that is sturdy, multi-purpose, aesthetically-pleasing, and most of all, affordable? 

Read this guide as our experts discuss what is manufactured wood and why you should try it today.

Overview of Manufactured Wood

Manufactured wood combines different wood pieces that are pressed together with other adhesive chemicals like glue and sawdust to create an improved wood variety. 

Its top layer is chemically treated with melamine production, while the layer under is a wood composite usually identified as Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).

What are the Different Types of Manufactured Wood?

Fiberboard

Unlike most manufactured wood, fiberboard has a dense texture, making it harder to chip and break. Fiberboard is produced from a mix of finely chopped wood chunks that are heat-treated until they achieve a fiber-like texture. 

After which, they are dried and bonded together with adhesives to form uniform-sized boards.

Where is Fiberboard Used?

Pros and Cons of Fiberboard

Fiberboard

Pros

Cons

Medium Density Fiber Board (MDF)

Due to their high density and durability, Medium-density fiberboards (MDF) have gained popularity among manufactured wood variants. This variety is highly cost-effective and is easy to work with compared to most solid woods. 

Woodworkers prefer this for basic furniture-making as they are readily available and have a good overall output.

Where is MDF Used?

Pros and Cons of Medium Density Fiber Board (MDF)

MDF

Pros

Cons

Particle board

Particle board, frequently referred to as chipboard, is a highly affordable manufactured wood crafted by chemically bonding sawdust and resin with adhesives. 

To further improve its stability and overall durability, experienced woodworkers partner it with veneer. This method not only makes it stain-resistant but also enhances its overall aesthetic.

Where is Particle Board Used?

Pros and Cons of Particle board

Particle Board

Pros

Cons

Plywood

Plywood is possibly the most known and top pick among expert woodworkers regarding manufactured wood. It is crafted by bonding multiple layers of veneer wood until they create a smooth solid board that is highly durable without losing its flexibility. 

It is affordable and easily accessible. However, it is prone to shrinking and swelling due to veneer crosswires along the grain.

Where is Plywood Used?

Pros and Cons of Plywood

Baltic Birch Plywood

Pros

Cons

Veneer

Veneer is a thin wood pressed together to form core panels. It is shaved from natural wood and combined with manufactured wood like plywood, MDF, and chipboard. 

Various types of veneer serve a particular purpose: raw, paper-backed, phenolic-backed, laid up and reconstituted veneer. Compared to solid wood, veneer creates better stability as it is not prone to warping, cracking, or splitting.

Where is Veneer Used?

Pros and Cons of Veneer

Veneer

Pros

Cons

Benefits of Manufactured Wood

Ideal for flooring

Manufactured wood is ideal for following as it is highly durable and its upper layer can be treated as stain and scratch-free. They also look like authentic wood, which gives off a general good aesthetic.

installing manufactured wood for flooring

Durable

They are on par with solid wood regarding strength and durability. The heavy-duty glue that bonds them together makes manufactured wood able to sustain weight and pressure.

Flexible

Manufactured wood is generally more pliable than other wood types. Architectural design experts prefer to use them for intricate projects that involve precise design specifications.

Fire-resistant

They do not catch fire as easily as solid wood. As manufactured wood is has multiple layers, the amount of oxygen that penetrates its core would take a while.

Sustainable

Lumber companies resort to renewable sources of wood to adapt to modern times. Manufactured wood has better sustainability as they are built to last and can be reconstituted for other purposes.

Longer pieces

Engineered wood is longer compared to natural lumber. These laminated boards make a great floor or wall core and are easier to work with.

particle boards

Wide variety of finishes and colors

As these woods undergo a manufacturing process, they have a wide variety of finishes and colors to choose from, depending on the demands of the consumers.

Ideal for more extreme environments

Unlike real wood, composite wood does not expand or contract despite a harsh and changing environment. Its moisture level is mostly constant, and abrupt changes in the temperature do not affect its overall quality.

Can be refinished

Refinishing is easy with these manufactured wood types. Their top layer can be reworked if necessary, and a quality finish can keep it in pristine condition for a long time.

Uses of Manufactured Wood

Manufactured Wood for Decks

One of the most common uses of manufactured wood is decking. Expert woodworkers prefer it over real wood because it is more susceptible to dampness and sudden temperature changes.

applying #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

However, it is always important to use treated wood, especially outdoor furniture. If left untreated, moisture can easily penetrate the wood fibers and will be detrimental to your project.

Manufactured Wood for Furniture

Woodworkers choose Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and plywood due to their easy workability, cost, and overall quality. Manufactured woods are highly versatile and cost-effective and can be used for almost anything, including making furniture. 

Low-end furniture like desks, chairs, cupboards, cabinets, drawers, racks, and outdoor furniture can be made using this modified wood.

dresser made with MDF wood

Manufactured Wood for Flooring

Solid wood may give a more premium feel to wood flooring, but experts prefer using manufactured ones. 

Its thin layers make it easy to stain and paint, and a laminated board has better resistance to dents and scratches. Commercial buildings prefer them because of the low-cost manufacturing, which can last a few years. 

Raw materials have been scarce and expensive, so going for cheaper building materials is not only practical but also eco friendly.

Grades of Manufactured Wood

GradeProperties
Grade AHighest quality, flawless, expensive
Grade BHigh quality with minor flaws
Grade CVisible knots and possible discoloration within a 1.5-inch diameter
Grade DLow quality, cheapest, hard to repair

The grade you opt for depends on what you will use it for. For example, experts recommend using Grade A faux wood to build cabinets because it holds screws and nails better, while you can use Grade B or C for other low-end furniture for cost-effectiveness.

different lumber sizes

There are other methods to determine the grade of manufactured wood, but the APA Engineered Wood Association [1] method is the most accurate to meet national and international standards.

Differences Between Manufactured Wood and Solid Wood

PropertyManufactured WoodSolid Wood
WeightLightHeavy
DensityMedium to HighHigh
HardnessSoft to moderateHigh
DurabilityWeaker than solid wood, and quality can diminish overtimeCan last a long time
StrengthCan accommodate light to moderate weightCan accommodate heavy loads
ConstructionMultiple varieties of wood combinedProduced by actual trees
Ease of InstallationEasy to installCan be tricky and requires expertise
SandingOnce or twiceMultiple sanding for years
ApplicationsPerfect for low-end applicationsGreat for any woodworking project
Eco-friendlinessCan be toxicOrganic, homegrown

Manufactured wood is created as an alternative to expensive solid wood. Because the latter is sourced from raw material, it is harder to produce.

lumber at a home depot

Solid wood furniture lasts for years, but not everyone can afford it. Meanwhile, furniture from faux wood may be cheaper, but they do the job and can even imitate a smooth, authentic wood surface.

Is Manufactured Wood Toxic?

Manufactured wood can be toxic. Most of them are treated with formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. 

Some manufactured woods also contain Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC) like acetone, ethanol, and propanol, which can harm our health and the environment.

Tips to Maintain Manufactured Wood

FAQ

Is manufactured wood fake wood?

Yes, manufactured wood is fake wood. The essence of this melamine-covered faux wood is to become an alternative to real wood.

Is manufactured wood better than real wood?

No, manufactured wood is not better than real wood. Because it is modified to be more cost-effective and accessible, it is not as sturdy and has a shorter life expectancy. Using quality solid wood has a greater Return-on-Investment (ROI) in the long run.

Conclusion

Using manufactured wood in your projects is fun and affordable. Its versatile properties give a wide range to a woodworker’s imagination. We hope this guide summed by our team of experts helped you make informed choices going forward by understanding what is manufactured wood, as well as its different types and uses.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
Latest posts by Robert Johnson (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.