What Is Engineered Wood?
Nov 09, 2020
Engineered wood boards are generally made from the same hardwoods and softwoods used to manufacture lumber, but mixed with additives like adhesives. This type of wood often utilizes waste wood from sawmills, and are treated through chemical or heat processes to produce wood that meets size requirements that are hard to find in nature.
Engineered wood is used in a variety of applications, from home construction to commercial buildings to industrial products.
“Engineered lumber is lumber that although it comes from wood, it’s been processed to be something slightly different and perform in a different, oftentimes better way than what just the raw wood would perform.” -Professional builder Jordan Smith
7 Popular Types of Engineered Wood
Engineered wood products are available as framing members—beams, for example—and sheet goods, which can be used as sheathing or flooring.
1. Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)
Made of wood veneers that are compressed together with resins and glues, LVL is a high density engineered wood product used in framing. LVL is very strong, but has only one strength axis, because its veneers are stacked with the grain running in the same direction. This means you can only load LVL in one direction.
2. Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL)
Made of small strips of wood—strands—that are placed in a dense, angled pattern, LSL is a high quality engineered wood product that can be an even higher density and stronger than LVL. It is composed of about 95% wood fiber and 5% resin. LSL is very resistant to weight and torsion because of the angled pattern in which the wood strips are placed. LSL is also expensive—it’s about 3x the cost of dimensional lumber.
3. Oriented strand board (OSB)
This type of sheet good is formed by combining wood strands or flakes with adhesives and then compressing them. It is manufactured in wide mats and is good for load-bearing applications such as flooring and roof decking. All OSB isn’t created equal—some is sanded (like Advantech or Legacy premium subfloor), and other boards are not. Some OSB is moisture resistant, other boards are not. Make sure that you are using premium grade OSB if there’s any chance of it experiencing whether.
It is important to note that for OSB (and plywood), you want to gap all of your ends, so that when it expands and contracts with moisture in the long direction, you aren’t causing it to buckle. However, on the tongue and groove of premium subflooring, there is a pre-manufactured stop that gives you the ⅛-inch gap in between boards.
A sheet good manufactured from thin layers (or “plies”) or wood veneer that are glued together. Plywoods have several benefits to builders, since they are made by binding resin and wood fiber sheets to form a composite material whose “cross graining” property provides dimensional stability and makes the strength of the panel consistent in all directions.
Remember to gap all of your ends with plywood, because it does still expand and contract with moisture.