Choosing quality plywood is an essential element of success when it comes to construction projects that involve the use of this practical building material. In the first article of this three-part series we determined that, in spite of conventional wisdom that would say otherwise, more plies doesn’t always equal higher quality plywood. In fact, though an increased amount of glue should lend stability to the plywood, that’s only the case if the glue being used is of a strong formulation and if it’s applied in a proper manner. Plywood that’s constructed with inferior glue or with glue that’s not applied correctly can end up being flimsy.
In this second article, we’ll look at some tips for determining if a sheet of plywood has been constructed to last or not.
Automated Glue Dispensers Sometimes Skimp on Glue
Because of the wonders of automation, factories are often able to put out products quickly for a fraction of the cost of products constructed by hand. The down-side of automated plants, however, comes into play when overseers aren’t careful to keep a close eye on the production lines to see if each step is going according to protocol. Even worse is when automated plants are deliberately set up to produce inferior products as a way to help increase the owner’s profit margin.
When it comes to the glue used in plywood, both of the above concerns can lead to inferior panels. First, some automated plants have thinned the glue lines down to cut costs. Thinner glue lines mean that they don’t have to use as much glue per sheet of plywood, and their production costs go down considerably. This may be good for their bottom line in the short term, but they’ll end up producing weaker plywood which, in turn, could lead to dissatisfied customers and a loss of future sales.
Second, if they’re not careful, plant workers allow the glue vats to get too low before refilling them, and the already thin lines of glue get even thinner as the automated glue machines start to run out of glue.
Avoid Plywood Constructed with Diluted Glue
Since there are only really a few basic glue formulations, the actual chemistry makeup of your glue probably won’t be much different from manufacturer to manufacturer. The big difference actually comes up in the application. In foreign mills, glue is sometimes actually mixed with inexpensive fillers that can have a tendency to lessen the glue’s adhesive quality. This purposeful dilution is done as a cost-cutting measure, and it can hurt the glue’s effectiveness over time.
Since the quality, concentration, and application of glue can make such a big impact on the finished product when it comes to plywood, it’s vital to thoroughly inspect the products you order to the best of your ability. In fact, before even placing an order, carefully check out the different plants’ reputations before you seriously consider ordering from them. Find out from others who have used their products if they have been satisfied with the plywood’s quality. Make sure that any reviews you’re reading of their products are from verified purchasers and not from people who have been dishonestly paid by the plant to give them fake positive reviews. In the world we live in, false positive reviewing happens all too frequently with many products and services. If you’re purchasing from a dealer, try to find out who their suppliers are and investigate them as well as you can.
In the final article in this three-part series, we’ll wrap up our look at determining the quality of plywood. This last piece will focus on how to actually approach a supplier in such a way that you’ll be most likely to come away with the stable, strong plywood you want for your project.
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J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has become one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods. As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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