ADVANTAGES: ‘Real’ wood is always considered the most luxuriant material, for its rich texture and warm smell. Wood is valuable and products made out of it can be handed over from generation to generation. For exterior usage, hardwood is said to be better choice than softwood, as it is more durable and long-lasting, especially in tropical countries like India. Softwood is easier to work with because of its smoother grains and texture, as opposed to hardwood trees, that have pores. It also takes oil finishes well. Wood is extremely suitable in cold climates as it keeps the interiors warm. It is soft on the feet and especially suitable for children, elderly people, dance halls, gymnasiums etc. It provides a rustic natural feel.
DISADVANTAGES: Dust is very quickly visible on wood, especially if it is dark-stained. Both hardwood and softwood need to be treated with pest control measures, and polished every few years. They need to be dusted along the grains to make them last longer, which is time consuming. Hardwood, when used as flooring, amplifies sound. Wood can rot when exposed to constant moisture.
APPLICATIONS: hardwood is used in construction-ceiling, supporting beams, support pillars, exteriors (windows, doors, garden decks), interiors (flooring, furniture). Softwood is used for making furniture, MDF, flooring and interior accents such as false ceilings, wooden rafters and pillars.
EXPERTS SPEAK: Softwood is not as well suited to tropical countries. Also, softwood doesn’t last too long when exposed to abrasives, scratches, and wear and tear. When using softwood, take care to use well seasoned softwood. Softwood is good choice for panelling.
HDF AND MDF:
High density fibre board and medium density fibre board are the terms that are occasionally used interchangeably. While both HDF & MDF are manufactured in a similar manner(wood chips bonded with resin), the difference lies in their density, which in turn has a proportionate bearing on their respective strengths.
ADVANTAGES: Because of its higher density, HDF can be used where one is looking for material that has higher weathering capabilities. MDF takes good paint finish. Purchased from a good company, both are termite and fungus resistant.
DISADVANTAGES: Preferably, MDF must not be exposed to the elements or to the moisture. One must also bear in mind its load – bearing capacity. For example if you are using MDF for shelves, remember to put a place double the amount of support as against what you would put in for regular wood.
APPLICATIONS: HDF is often used for outdoors (doors frames and outdoor furniture). MDF is used for within the and in commercial spaces (interior doors, indoor furniture, clocks and other interior accents). Kitply’s kit topline ceiling tiles are fire, termite, weather and fungus resistant, warp-free and even have high structural strength, making them excellent for wall panelling and false ceiling.
As form of wood that’s traditionally been used as an alternative to solid wood, many thin sheets of wood are glued together to make plywood, ranging from a thickness of 4mm to 25mm.
ADVANTAGES: Besides the cost factor, plywood is very hardy. Greenply, for instance, provides a lifetime guarantee on its plywood. Plywood from a good company, such as Kitply, is usually weather proof, boiling water proof, and insect resistant. There are also various options to finishing plywood-veneer, laminate, paint.
DISADVANTAGES: plywood is not very attractive and is not considered to give a very ‘polished’ look. Compared to MDF , the latter is easier to work with, as plywood cannot be left unfinished. Plywood by itself cannot take varnish or polish. It needs to be coated with veneers or painted for finishing. This reduces the natural quality of wood.
APPLICATIONS: Plywood is used as core material in cabinets, doors, furniture, panelling and false ceilings. Marine ply which is waterproof, can be used in wet areas-kitchens and bathrooms. Gurjan, which is ply made out of silver oak is hardy and can be used in the outdoors as well. Commercial ply is not as dense and can be used in furniture such as shelves that carry light weights and are not exposed to the elements. Samrat ply offers all three variants.
EXPERTS SPEAK: Plywood is a denser product when compared with MDF. For the same application, one would require a thicker sheet of MDF than plywood. Furniture moulded from plywood is available today. One example of this is the chairs you see about cafeterias where the plywood is heated and pressed into a mould.
Veneer is literally a ply, about 4mm in thickness, typically glued on core panels. Veneers of various wood types are available- rosewood, mahogany or teak. Green Decowood makes veneers.
ADVANTAGES: Veneer can be used to give the impression or to create an illusion of the product being made from wood. It is less expensive than making the whole product out of wood. Since it is a processed product, it is often treated to become borer and termite resistant.
DISADVANTAGES: Veneer is more difficult to repair than wood. It cannot take harsh chemical cleaning agents and can be re-sanded and polished only about twice in its lifetime.
APPLICATIONS: Wood veneer is used for furniture, cabinets, speakers, car interiors or any large surface where one may wish to reduce costs by using veneer rather than wood. For example Godrej and Boyce offer doors with veneer finish.
EXPERTS SPEAK: Veneer can be used interestingly in pieces of furniture. For instance , they can be used in combination-a dark veneer such as wedge or ebony in contrast with zebrano, in the different shelves of a TV cabinet. Or else, a cross veneering effect can be given on large surfaces, such as doors. This entails dividing the area into units and then having the grain of the veneer go horizontally and vertically, with exposed grooves.
Laminate are made by compressing together different materials, (the core is made mainly of paper and chemicals) through heat. They are coated with materials that make them scratch-proof and in some cases anti-microbial, sound and shock-absorbing. Laminates can be made to look like wood, are available in thickness of approximately 1mm.
ADVANTAGES: laminates are impervious to water spillage and may resist wear and tear better than natural wood. It comes in a variety of colours and finishes, such as glossy, matte and in-lines, waves and more. Since they are manufactured, they often have high resistance to dry heat and hot boiling water.
DISADVANTAGES: Since it is not actually real wood, it often tends to look synthetic.
APPLICATIONS: Laminate flooring is very popular. It can be used in children’s furniture. It works well for ‘wet’ areas; bathroom and kitchen cabinetry are most often laminated. Greenlam and Kitply offer laminates.
EXPERTS SPEAK: Laminates can be used in internal surfaces-within wardrobes and storage units-as they are easy to maintain and have neat joints. Labour intensive polishing is left for the exposed surfaces.
Parquet is really a mosaic of different wooden pieces joined together to form all kinds of design. It is available in thickness of about 3mm to 14mm.
ADVANTAGES: Customised designs are available, unlike conventional wood. Less expensive than hardwood, and in the case of flooring, it can be taken out and relaid in another space. Brands like Haro also add an insulation layer, to reduce sound levels. Parquet is extremely suitable for cold places due to its thermal insulating properties.
DISADVANTAGES: Parquet needs to be laid out by experienced hands with care. Any contact with abrasives should be avoided.
APPLICATIONS: Parquet is used for flooring, now a days especially used in dry bathroom spaces, to give a spa-like ambience. It is also used while making furniture, especially table tops or any large top surface, to create an interesting pattern.
CHOOSING YOUR WOOD:
A few factors to consider when considering wood or wood-based products:
Ø Usage-heavy, medium, light
Ø Load-bearing capacity
Ø Paint-holding ability
Ø How good it is for joints
Ø How does it handle screws
Ø Exposure to the elements-water, heat, humidity, snow, fog etc
Ø Impact on environment
Ø Pest control required or pre-treated and frequency of treatment
DO KEEP IN MIND:
Ø Before beginning any work in house, whether old or relatively new, all wooden articles-cabinets, rafters, furniture, doors-need to be treated for borders and the like. This pest-control treatment must be done prior to bringing in any new wood or wood-based material which may be added to the existing location.
Ø When using wood, one needs to keep in mind the impact on the environment. Hardwood, for instance, takes over 15 years to grow and mature for use. (kiln seasoned wood is also available in the market) Alternatives such as rubber wood and bamboo are available in the market today. Treated rubber wood is hardwood to significant extent. Bamboo, a grass is too a viable alternative. Both rubber and bamboo grow in a shorter span (usually in the 3-5 year range) and can then be harvested for use. Also, they can quickly be replanted.
Ø The discerning eye will recognise that a number of products in the market today are given a finish of different woods. For example, products are available with a rosewood finish or a mahogany finish and these may be teak wood, or teak board products which have been given a stain of rosewood or mahogany.
There is a tasteful use of natural wood used in its traditional form creating interior spaces that are minimalistic yet carry an air of old-time elegance.
There is a heavy woodwork and the indiscriminate use of panelling and concentrated on woodwork at the level of ceiling. The major part of the walls has been painted white making this kitchen space look even larger.
As we live cooped up in cities most of the year, so spaces need to make us feel large and airy yet cosy and comfortable.
A home by Sachdeva’s with immense use of wood cladding as we can see in the pictures also lots of creams and brown textures on the walls to add the warmth.
In this house you are encouraged to remove your footwear and let your feet step on mango, jamun and sheesham wood. Insect eaten or weather-beaten timbers were reclaimed and reused. Indigenous timber from mango, jamun, siris, neem and jackfruit are used to create functional forms.
Variegated teak plywood unites the dinning room and kitchen, especially as seen in the cabinetry along the walls. The mahogany plywood panels also help wrap and envelope the space.
Warm, rich textured woods have been used throughout the house. The architect’s goal was to create a modern, affordable home with least wastage and maximum utilisation of space even underneath the landing of the staircase.