By Abhijit Phadke
Though most people are not aware of it, blockboard furniture is used by many people in their day to day lives. From doors to bookshelves and from wall panels to benches, blockboard is everywhere. It is cheaper than plywood or quality solid wood and its unique composition also makes it suitable for several furniture applications, where other types of engineered boards (such as plywood sheets) would fall short.
For example, though plywood is stronger than blockboard, it has a tendency to sag in the middle when long pieces are used. Hence when lengthy wooden boards are required to be used in furniture making, carpenters often choose blockboards which are stiffer with good dimensional stability and which are less likely to bend in the middle.
The image below shows a real-life example of blockboard furniture.
And if you think the furniture shown above is made from plywood or solid wood, here is some more proof to resolve all doubts.
The damaged backrest of this similar blockboard bench shown below, gives us a glimpse of the blocks inside. I believe this particular piece of blockboard furniture was damaged in the floods that wreaked havoc in Mumbai in the year 2005.
And here is another blockboard bench whose outer veneer (layer of ply) has almost totally come off, and the blocks inside are seen more clearly.
And the use of blockboard in furniture is not restricted to tables and benches only. As a fact, most of the doors that we use in our homes are actually solid core flush doors (which are nothing but blockboards that have a thinner 2.5 mm layer of veneer on either side).
And why are blockboards are the preferred choice for doors? It's because they have good stiffness, offer good dimensional stability even when exposed to humidity, are light-weight and hence easy to transport and install, and are also cheaper than other options such as hardwood plywood or good quality solid wood (e.g. teak wood).
An unfinished blockboard door (or to be more accurate its a solid core flush door edge), photographed at a carpenters shop in Navi Mumbai, India.
Other popular pieces of blockboard furniture include long book shelves, settees (also called diwan) that are used for sitting, single and double beds, wall panels and large cabinets.
These days, manufacturers make blockboard in two grades, interior grade MR (Moisture Resistant) and exterior grade BWP (Boiling Water proof). Thus blockboard can now be used for making indoor as well outdoor furniture.
Similar to solid wood or plywood, blockboard furniture can also be be painted or polished, decorated using HPDL (High Pressure Decorative laminates) such as Sunmica, or veneered effectively to increase its beauty and richness.