Lauan Plywood: Uses And Features
Luan, also known as Philippine mahogany, is a highly resilient type of plywood that is found from native trees grown in the South Pacific Rim. It has been commercialized for about a few decades, and it is taken in the raw material form from countries in the Far East, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The initial prototypes of lauan plywood were introduced in Asian countries, such as Korea and Japan, and it used to get exported in massive quantities because of its increasing demand in the western world. Despite the fact that it can be conveniently stained or painted with basic tools, it is still highly advised to avoid installing it in areas that remain wet or damp throughout the year. Because of its hygroscopic properties, it might not be the best choice for flooring or sheathing in the outdoor parts of a house or corporate building.
Luan Plywood History
The raw material was industrialized at a massive scale because of its prevalence in the Pacific Rim, and it was fairly affordable to harvest it with minimal investment because the local terrain and environment favored its growth in abundance. Additionally, the logs that were freshly cut from the local farms were dimensionally balanced without any major defects, and it showed uniformity in terms of its color and density.
Because of its massive demand at a global level, according to an estimate, around 10 million cubic meters of raw material produced in a year. Due to overharvesting, the local production sites were put under immense pressure by the application of fertilizers and growth spurt chemicals, which in turn resulted in fewer offerings from land for the coming years.
What Makes Lauan Plywood Popular?
It is considerably tender in nature, which makes it one of the softest plywood materials available out there. It is considered highly sought after for home improvement projects that are run on limited budget, because it is readily available at a cheap cost compared to its other counterparts in the local lumberyards. Because of its softness, it is used for projects where intricate cutting tasks are performed in order to come up with a fully transformed final piece of wood.
It is extracted as a raw form from Shorea genus, which is a tropical species of rainforest trees that are tall and straight in terms of their structure. This consistency of its dimensions results in lesser wastage of resources during the peeling and harvesting process. It is also famous in consumer market because it is not prone to discoloration or any irregularities in its density, which makes it a perfect choice for subflooring of hardwood.
It proves to be fairly flexible and elastic in nature when it is installed for underlayment purposes, and on the other hand, it is so tender that you can easily cut with a utility knife without having to purchase a highly sharpened cutting tool. It is less susceptible to getting hardened after being finalized into a panel form, so this makes it a perfect for people who want to try out DIY projects in their residential property.
How is It Commonly Used?
In the Western consumer market, it is used at a massive scale for vinyl or laminate flooring, because it naturally tends to have fine edges and smooth surface – which makes it highly aesthetically appealing in household settings. It is also used for cabinetry purposes, where thin divider panels are required to enforce segregation in the structure.
Because of its pliable properties, it is also used as raw material in dollhouses and other children toys, where delicate layers of wooden sheets are required to form curved and bendable structures. It can also be installed as an underlayment to hardwood flooring, but you have to be highly cautious to keep it away from damp or humid areas because it can quickly become swollen up after absorbing substantial amount of moisture or water from the air or ground.
It is also a highly sought after wood type in boat-building industry, where hard but thin wooden panels are required that can be curved to a high degree, so that high precision of architecture can be maintained without any compromise. It is known as meranti by the boat builders, and they consider it one of the most economical products for construction purposes related to wooden items.
Is Luan Plywood Sustainable?
During its manufacturing process, multiple thin slices of wood are compiled together in a way that the grains run perpendicular with its neighboring sheet, and then they are glued together with a highly powerful adhesive. Because of the fact that is quite thin in its dimensions, which ranges anywhere from 1/4 inches to 1/8 inches, it is mainly preferred during small-scale projects where minimal structural strength of the material is required.
There is a noticeable variation in various shipments of lauan plywood picked up from different sites because it is now being combined with different species of tree logs. Massive deforestation has occurred in some areas due to its colossal demand, which resulted in the sharp depletion of its natural production spots. It takes several years for lauan wood trees to be fully mature, and the local farmers use artificial growth solutions to reduce this time period. Most logging companies are not paying attention to this growing issue, which can potentially result in a sudden decline in the natural production of lauan wood.
Working With Lauan
The cross-graining technique applied during the gluing process of separate sheets of lauan plywood makes it less susceptible to become less dense when it is nailed at the edges with a hammer or other related tools. Due to its low thickness, it is advised to give some sort of support to both of its edges when you are cutting it with circular saw or other sharp tool. It is usually better to start the cutting process from its top veneer layer, because that would reduce its chances of being splintered when it is subjected under pressure.