By Abhijit Phadke
This article explains what teak plywood is, and dwells on related aspects such as teak veneers and solid teak wood furniture.
If as a customer you are looking for teak plywood that's made completely out of teak, rest assured that it will be hard to find. The reason behind this is that teak is a very expensive wood, and solid teak wood has a great demand in national and international markets. So hardly anyone makes plywood completely out of teak wood. What plywood companies generally do is that they obtain a good quality veneer from the log of teak, and use it only as the topmost surface layer of the plywood. The inside layers of the plywood are made using other woods.
Technically speaking I would not call this as teak plywood, rather it can be called as Teak Veneered Plywood.
Veneers are obtained by rotary-cutting logs of wood, by peeling layers from them. For doing this, the timber logs are mounted on a lathe-like machine, and rotated about their longitudinal axis, while a sharp cutter peels off very thin layers (veneers) from the logs. In the case of plywood, many such veneers (plies) are glued and pressed together to form plywood sheets.
The most popular wood used in India for making plywood is Gurjan wood (pronounced as Garjan wood). It is quite strong but it's not as good looking as teak wood. So what is done is that the base or core veneers are made from Gurjan wood, and to increase the beauty of the plywood a teak veneer is glued as the topmost surface layer, either on one side (face) of the plywood sheet or on both sides. The plywood made using such techniques is known as decorative plywood.
Such decorative teak veneered plywoods are available in all the standard sizes such as 8 feet x 4 feet, 7 feet x 3 feet etc. and in all standard thickness such as 18mm, 19mm etc. These plywoods can also be manufactured in different grades such as Commercial MR grade (Moisture resistant - Internal grade) or BWR grade (Boiling Water Resistant - External grade) or as Marine grade plywood (which is used for doing the flooring and decking woodwork in ships).
Teak wood is a strong and attractive material that has been in fashion for a long long time. It has a rich golden brown colour and striking straight grain patterns on it that make it look very beautiful. It is also very strong and durable, and has a natural oil within its cells because of which it has natural resistance against termites and pests.
Similar to decorative plywood, the teak veneers can also be glued over other engineered wood substrates such as MDF (Medium density fibreboard) sheets. Quality wood veneers are costly, and in case you decide not to go for teak veneered plywood or teak veneered MDF, then the best option is probably to go for decorative laminates such as Sunmica, Formica and other brands.
In case you are looking for teak furniture, you can also think of buying solid teak wood furniture. And instead of the regular blockboard doors, you can opt for teak veneered blockboards of BWP External grade, or even solid teak wood doors. Solid wood is considered stronger than plywood or blockboards, since its a homogeneous material. Solid teak wood is expensive, but then it's also very strong and durable and easily lasts a lifetime.