Plywood furniture design- 3 MUST KNOWS for Interior design

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Plywood furniture design – How to use the right Plywood type (MR, BWR or BWP) for cabinets?

This post summarize how to identify Best plywood type for interior work design & Plywood furniture design. It helps you to quickly finalize the interior design for your new flat or renovating house. It covers all aspects to consider while deciding and negotiating the contract. It is better rather than just accepting the plywood type proposed by your interior work contractor.

Once you read this post, please read the related posts given below as all these posts together will give a complete understanding of the key factors to know before starting the work.  

Which type of Plywood to mix and use for a cost & quality effective Plywood furniture design?

Interior grade plywood is known as “commercial ply” or MR grade (MR=Moisture Resistant) plywood. There are two types of Exterior grade plywood. First one is known as BWR (Boiled Water Resistant) grade. Second one is known as BWP (Boiling Water Proof) grade or Marine grade plywood. MR grade plywood is the cheapest while BWP grade is the costliest one.

  1. Commercial or MR grade – Indian Standard Specification IS 303

    1. Indian Standard Specification IS 303:1989 requires MR plywood to withstand three cycles, each consisting of 3 hours at 60 ± 2ºC in water and thereafter drying at 65 ± 2ºC for 8 hours.
    2. Better suitable for making furniture where we are sure that it will not come in contact with water. You should not get confused with the name Moisture Resistant with waterproof. Because this type of ply can resist moisture and humidity and not the water. However practically it looks like up to 24 hours of cold water contact with MR ply may not have any impact to a branded IS 303 marked products.
    3. It is the low-cost type of plywood.
    4. Must be used for indoor use. Recommended to be used with laminates on all sides & edge banding to protect the edges. Lamination and edge banding can extend the life of the MR plywood.
  2. BWR grade – Indian Standard Specification IS 303 (same as MR grade)

    1. This type of exterior grade plywood can withstand temperature changes, humidity and alternate wetting & drying.
    2. Indian Standard Specification IS 303 : 1989 (Amendment No.4, 2005) need BWR plywood to withstand three cycles, each for 8 hour boiling in water and thereafter drying at around 65 ± 2ºC for 16hours.
    3. Furniture made can be placed in outdoors. However, for longevity of the furniture, keep it in indoors.
    4. Recommended to be used with laminates on all sides and edge banding to protect the edges. Lamination and edge banding can extend the life of the MR plywood.
  3. BWP grade – Indian Standard Specification IS 710:2010

    1. BWP or Marine Plywood is designed to use in construction of marine crafts like ships, boats etc. So it required to withstand rigorous climatic conditions like wetting and drying. It also needs to withstand attack by fungi, insects and even marine organisms.
    2. Decorate laminates will further improve the life of the plywood.
    3. As per the Indian Standard Specification IS 710:2010, BWP plywood is expected to withstand 3 days (72 hours) of continuous boiling in water at 100ºC.
    4. Indian Brand Century Club Prime Ply claim that their BWP product have a unique Glue Line Protection. Thus offer 20-years warranty against damage by borer and termite.

Wood furniture or Plywood Furniture

 

  1. Fire Retardant (FR) type plywood used in public area works like theatre etc. Not in scope of this post.

Recommended Plywood type & options to keep quality with least cost

First of all, you need to decide whether you want the plywood to last for more than 5 years or you are okay with renovating the house and replacing the wood work when the furniture creates the issues. If you look for shorter duration, you can select the low-cost MR plywood from the above paragraph. However note that MR plywood is not water resistant or water proof and will get damaged soon when exposed with water seepage or spillage. Below content will help you to Identify the best plywood for furniture or interior wood work.

Following part of the post will give the information about the plywood types that is best suited for various areas of house and checklist to purchase the plywood keeping quality of product in priority along with cost factor. Let us get into details. 

  1. Location of Plywood types best suited in interior work – Key for Plywood furniture design

    1. Modular Kitchen & other water spill prone area.
      1. Must use BWP Plywood considering the fact that water and moisture exposure will be more in these areas of house especially when the plywood items resting on floor.
    2. Bed rooms & other areas without water connection
      1. Although BWR plywood is enough, recommended to go at least for BWP plywood. This is because over a period of time due to floor mopping, floor washing etc., chances of water absorption through edges will be more. Remember that the advanced manufacturing material used will not only ensure longevity but also give long life due to higher protection offered for borer and termite.
      2. Go for branded BWP plywood for Kitchen and areas where you suspect water seepage now or future (when there is a water body nearby like wash basin etc.) as top branded plywood manufacturer is expected to have advanced manufacturing abilities to give strong product.
      3. Look for next paragraph in this post whether the lower cost option for BWP given below is okay for you.  
      4. BWR plywood is NOT a bad option. This is because over a period of time due to floor mopping, floor washing etc., chances of water absorption through edges will be more. Avoid plywood getting in contact with external surfaces or atmosphere through laminates. If you are in low budget and do not want to go for MR plywood, this option is good for you.
      5. Note that MR plywood or commercial plywood may be okay for commercial work where renovations may be faster than a regular home. So, for home furniture and interior work avoid MR plywood even if you are laminating them. This is because core of the furniture is wood and strength at core is important. Good strength plywood can withstand insect attacks, hold screw & weight and offer good water resistance.
      6. You may not need top brand’s BWR plywood unlike in the case of plywood for water spill prone areas like kitchen. If you are in low budget, you can select.
      7. Laminates on all sides can be considered when you are quality, aesthetics and plywood longevity conscious with readiness to spend more.
  1. How can you get BWP plywood at the cost of BWR plywood?

    1. Select the tier-2 or tier-3 brands ISI marked BWP plywood except for kitchen and areas prone to water leakage, spillage or seepage. It doesn’t mean that these brand ISI marked are inferior to the top brand BWP plywood.
    2. These brands claims using the Gurjan hardwood for making the plywood and giving longer guarantee in terms of borer and termite protection. Eucalyptus based plywood also a comparable option to go for when you want to lower the cost with negligible quality difference to Gurjan based plywood.
    3. To double check, ensure that the selected brand have the ISI mark with CML number and IS specification number printed on every sheet you buy. Note that there are many products in the market of branded and unbranded which will be mentioning on the sheet as “conforms to IS : 710, conforms to IS : 303. I was told that the manufacturer ensures the quality meeting as per the IS:710 or IS:303 while the product is not licensed to use standard ISI mark or fake.
    4. For my home interior work, I used this option and for last 4 years, all good. See the photo of the label from the ply used by me. (pictures shows some sheets with ISI mark & CM/L number while some mentioned that conforming to IS:710 and Is:303 standards. Use this option only when you are ready to take a risk after taking feedback from a renowned local plywood distributor. This option should be used only when you decide to use BWP plywood. Because BWP plywood conforming to IS:710 standard should be expected to be much better than a standard branded BWR plywood. Most of the photos in the post contains older product labels. Now it will be better. Pay attention while you do home work on – how to identify the best plywood type.
    5. If you are going for Plywood that is not having ISI mark with CM/L number, then you may see the followings.
      1. Branded plywood of this type will have low cost in comparison to branded products ISI labelled CM/L number printed product of same type. That is BWP or BWR or MR.
      2. However tier-2 brands this type of product will have much lower cost than the branded plywood of this type. So decide based on your risk profile.

Plywood furniture design - Plywood for cabinets

Lower cost brand Plywood Brand description image

Plywood selection checklist – how to identify the best plywood type

  1. Plywood type for Kitchen & other water spill prone areas of house when the plywood items resting on floor

    1. Go for any of the top 5, Tier-1 BWP (preferred) or BWR Plywood brands in the market based on your budget.
    2. This is because leading brands is expected to have advanced manufacturing processes, materials and machinery in comparison to other brands.
    3. Even if you are in low budget try for at least top tier-2 brand’s BWP plywood keeping below listed principles in mind.
  1. Plywood type for Kitchen when the plywood items mounted on wall

    1. It is good to use branded plywood BWP or BWR option for kitchen cabinets mounted at a height above our waist level.
    2. Look for other low-cost BWP options mentioned in the post when you are in low budget. Because mounted at height can offer better protection from water spills on floor & mopping.
    3. But doesn’t prevent from water seepage on walls when water gets leaked from upper floors or when wall absorbs the water, subject to site situations. Eg. If wash basin is resting on the plywood cabinets even if it is mounted on a plastic bush of 4 inches height, water exposure to plywood cannot be ruled out in situation like leakage from kitchen sink or wash basin touches the plywood.
  1. Termite & borer Protection Warranty given by plywood manufacturer

    1. Termite & borer are the pest or destructive insect damaging the wood. Pests damage the plywood in powder form and shorten the life, if poor quality plywood is used.
    2. Consider warranty given by the top brands to differentiate themselves and identify the brand meeting your budget.
    3. Leading brands are offering even for 20 years of such warranty.
Plywood furniture design - Termite & Borer protection
Plywood furniture design – Termite & Borer protection (5+ years old as on Dec 2019)

Termite & Borer protection Image (4 years old as on April 2019)

                                                       Borer & termite protection highlighted on plywood brand label 

  1. Ensure Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) organization certified plywood is purchased

(When ISI labelled CM/L printed plywood sheet is purchased)
    1. Whichever brand you are going for, ensure that it have ISI mark (applicable for India).
    2. IS specification number like IS 303 or IS 710 should be printed along with CM/L-xxxxxxx number.
    3. 7 digits CML number is the license issued by Bureau of Indian Standards, which can be checked in the website to know licensee name and address.
    4. If plywood sheet NOT printed with ISI mark but no CML number is printed, product is suspected to have fake ISI mark.
(When plywood sheet printed with conforming to IS:710 or IS:303 standard is purchased)
    1. If plywood sheet labelled as conforming to IS:710 or IS:303, check with a reputed local distributor about their experience and also the warranty offered by the brand. This product will be much cheaper than the ISI labelled one even if the product is of branded supplier.
    2. If you are at low budget and ready to take risk can look for tier-2 brand. Else go for branded vendors non ISI marked BWR or BWP product to reduce the cost.

Refer previous paragraph to see the photos of ISI label.

  1. Weight of the plywood sheet & number of plies in every sheet

    1. Higher the weight of the plywood sheet, higher the density of the sheet resulting is more strength and the nail holding capacity.
  1. Type of hardwood used to manufacture the Plywood

    1. Ensure that the brand and model of Plywood selected by you is Gurjan based plywood as it is deemed to be of superior quality. Unfortunately, it is the costliest plywood type.
    2. Eucalyptus based plywood is costing around 50% less of Gurjan based plywood while it has negligible performance difference in comparison to Gurjan based plywood. So, decide based on your budget.
    3. Avoid Poplar-wood based plywood. This is the one of low cost and poor-quality plywood available in India.
  1. Visual inspection of the Plywood sheet

    1. In a plywood sheet, both core gaps and overlapping are unavoidable. Even with advanced manufacturing processes of branded plywood manufacturers, there will always be a few sheets with some issue, but to a very low percentage. So visual quality check is important.
    2. Once you buy the plywood sheets, please do a visual inspection to rule out manufacturing faults or due to atmospheric conditions where it was stored led to the bending or warping.
    3. While cutting or screwing, the splitting (i.e. Split of layers of plywood) or cracking issue may be noticed, if the gluing was improper during the manufacturing. A feeble percentage of manufactured sheets may have this problem. But no harm in verifying that you didn’t get one of the faulty pieces. You can ask for replacement of the sheet, if such issues are there.
    4. You can check whether the plywood is of Gurjan wood or Eucalyptus as mentioned above. Because for Gurjan wood you will be paying a premium. Although branded manufactures expected to have right specification, if you are looking for tier-2 brands, may be good to check.
Plywood furniture design - Gurjan Plywood or Eucalyptus Plywood - How to identify Pay for right item
Gurjan Plywood or Eucalyptus Plywood – How to identify?
  1. How can you test the quality of the plywood yourself? (Practically little difficult)

You can check the water resistance of the ply wood as per Indian Standard METHODS OF TEST FOR PLYWOOD document (IS : 1734 (Part 6) – 1983 Edition 3.2 (2005-01)). This is a 78 page document (attached) with 20 different tests. Summary of water resistance check mentioned in Part 6 (page 26) is given below.

    1. BWP Plywood –

      As per the Indian Standard Specification IS 710:2010, BWP plywood is expected to withstand 3 days (72 hours) of continuous boiling in water at 100ºC.  Steps to test are;

      1. 4 test samples each of around 250 mm x 250 mm from the plywood sheet to be taken.
      2. Do not use the marketing samples of the manufacturer, Test samples should be kept submerged for 72 hours in a pan of boiling water. Although this is as per standard, the people close to plywood industry told a practical way using pressure cooker. That is keep the sample pieces inside the pressure cooker and wait for 6 to 8 whistles. Then cool to room temperature and follow the below steps.
      3. These test pieces are then removed from the water by plunging them into cold water and cooled down to ambient temperature. If you spot any delamination or blister formation, ply is poor visually.
      4. These wet pieces can also be tested for’ glue shear strength & plies adhesion’ while in wet.
    2. BWR Plywood

      As per Indian Standard Specification IS 303 : 1989 (Amendment No.4, 2005) need BWR plywood to withstand three cycles, each for 8 hour boiling in water and thereafter drying at around 65 ± 2ºC for 16hours. Steps to test are;

      1. 4 test samples each of around 250 mm x 250 mm from the plywood sheet to be taken.
      2. Do not use the marketing samples of the manufacturer, Test samples should be kept submerged for 8 hours in a pan of boiling water.
      3. These test pieces are then removed from the water by plunging them into cold water and cooled down to ambient temperature. If you spot any delamination or blister formation, ply is poor visually.
      4. These wet pieces can also be tested for’ glue shear strength & plies adhesion’ while in wet.
    3. MR Plywood or Commercial Plywood

As per Indian Standard Specification IS 303:1989 requires MR plywood to withstand three cycles, each consisting of 3 hours at 60 ± 2ºC in water and thereafter drying at 65 ± 2ºC for 8 hours.

      1. 4 test samples each of around 250 mm x 250 mm from the plywood sheet to be taken.
      2. Do not use the marketing samples of the manufacturer, Test samples should be kept submerged in water of 65 ± 2ºC for 3 hours in a pan of boiling water.
      3. These test pieces are then removed from the water by plunging them into cold water and cooled down to ambient temperature. If you spot any delamination or blister formation, ply is poor visually.
      4. These wet pieces can also be tested for’ glue shear strength & plies adhesion’ while in wet.
  1. Dimension of the plywood sheet

    1. Standard dimension of the plywood sheets is 8×4, 6×4, 7×4 feet.

Typically, when you buy it for high rise buildings and need to carry to upper floors, please check the size of the service lift in those apartments. Otherwise you can opt for a lower dimension ply like 6×4 or 7×4 feet for easy transportation. If maximum length of the pieces used in design is 6ft., going for 6×4 may likely to reduce the wastage during cutting.

If wood type for interior Design is selected as Plywood, then Brands to select?

  1. Preferred to go for known Brands for important areas like Kitchen where the moisture content will need best manufacturing quality. Major Brands are Century Plywood (including Sharon Plywood ), GreenPlyKitPly etc. More than Brand, right type of plywood make the different. Example – Using BWP plywood should be used at Kitchen instead of BWR.
  2. Areas with no moisture can be with tier 2 Brands. But go for right type Plywood. Example – Using Commercial Ply can cause termite issues earlier years than with BWR. Look for long term quality than going for lower initial cost.

Conclusion – Best wood option if you cannot afford solid wood options (Eg. Teak wood)

Following are the summary of factors for how to identify the best plywood type.

  1. The best and cost-effective solution is to consider is Plywood.
  2. Decide the plywood type based on the plywood checklist mentioned above aligning with your expectation on the life of the furniture and the budget.
  3. By selecting the right type of the plywood, you can not only reduce the cost but also get a matching performance at a lower cost.
  4. Note that you need to choose the type of plywood material based on the location of its use within the house. This is because, different types of plywood are there suiting the external factors where you are fixing it. Eg. Plywood used in kitchen may have more chances of getting in contact with water whereas the plywood cabinet in the bed room may not have that much water exposure than kitchen.
  5. Consider the tips shared above on how to better utilize the IS specifications and ISI marks.
  6. If you want to consider options other than plywood, please refer the post Wood OR Engineered Wood.
  7. Go through the related posts listed below to know more about other aspects.

Also I recommend you to read the article – TYRE BURST reason& 1 MUST AVOID & 3 EASY ways to CONTROL CAR

Disclaimer– Through this blog, I shared my learning and experience on Plywood furniture design. Every effort is made to avoid errors. It is not possible to rule out chances of error, however. If you try any ideas or tips given this Blog, it is solely on your risk. I won’t be liable, if you suffer any loss or damage. Meanwhile, I am happy to answer any clarifications requests posted via the comments section.

If you notice any error or have a constructive feedback, please notify me. You are also welcome to share the general comments. Your feedback will help for continuous improvement of the content. Thank you for your visit to my Blog Home Page.

 

Plywood furniture design - BWR, BWP or MR

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  1. Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

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