A polyurethane board has to be the most fundamentally distinct plywood replacement in terms of sheer comparison with plywood. It is not susceptible to water damage or fracturing due to moisture absorption, since it is made of plastic. It is also surprisingly lightweight and if reinforced with fiberglass, can have equal longevity. The reinforced polyurethane board is just as suitable as any piece of plywood for structural and semi-structural employment.
Using regular woodworking instruments, polyurethane boards can also be cut down to any desired shape or scale. They are offered in standard-sized sheets and have various variants of density. Since polyurethane does not absorb moisture, adhesives compared to wood are simpler to apply.
The aesthetic appeal of the distinctive wood grain of plywood is the only thing you can lack when you resort to polyurethane. Although "cheating" with an artificial finish is possible, nothing compares to the real thing.
- Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
Another kind of processed wood board made by linking wood fibers together is MDF. Since these products are largely recycled, MDF is a more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective alternative to plywood. As MDF no longer has any wood grains, due to changes in temperature or humidity, it does not contract or extend. Because of the chemicals used in its development process, it is also usually protected from termite attacks.
It is just as easy to work with MDF as it is to work with plywood. It readily absorbs paint and adhesives and can be cut into form and scale very quickly. If you want a characteristic wood grain finish for your build, then you can set a plywood layer just as easily as an outer surface.
While MDF is a reasonably durable material, it still compares very poorly with plywood. The strength of MDF depends primarily on the form of resin used to tie the fibers together because the wood fibers do not have any structural integrity. This implies that you should expect to have vastly different physical properties for different MDF goods.
If MDF boards are still out of your budget range, then you can go to particle boards, the absolute cheapest alternative. Particleboard is a lot like an MDF board, as you might imagine from its name, except that it's made from wood particles instead of wood fibers. As they use recycled materials, particle boards are also a more environmentally friendly alternative compared to plyboards, just like MDF. They are much smaller than both MDF boards and folding boards.
With particle boards, two big problems do not make them acceptable for a lot of applications. The first is that they have the structural integrity that is very poor. Since they have this distinctive wood particle finish, particle boards can look fine, but they are often used for aesthetics and not for structural artifacts. You would still be able to use a particle board to put up tables and cabinets, but it would be unwise to create a wall with particle boards.
The second drawback of particle boards is that they have an inherently rough surface that does not have good post-processing techniques. Many projects using particle boards tend to maintain their original finish simply because it does not look so nice to paint on particleboard. Doing staining on the particleboard is the best you can do, giving it a good shine and a smooth finish.
- Oriented strand board (OSB)
An OSB is a strong middle-ground board between plywood and MDF boards, which is a balanced compromise. OSB is made from strips of wood of different sizes that are strategically oriented and bound together instead of loose wood fibers or particles.
It takes more than just applying an adhesive to these strips of wood to create an OSB board. While the strands are still considered wood scrap items, they are processed to make them suitable for making OSB boards through unique methods.
Most of the wood used for OSBs comes from species of trees that grow rapidly, which makes them more sustainable. The scraps that come from the activities of woodcutting are arranged and categorized by size, then dried and treated with wax or resin. These are then arranged into sheets to form rigid panels and subjected to high pressures and temperatures.
OSB, which retains much of its structural advantages, is considered a more economical alternative to plywood. It is reliably solid, less susceptible to warping, and even has better resistance to water than plywood. Best of all, OSB processing usually relies on non-formaldehyde resins or adhesives, so you can be sure it's a product that's environmentally friendly.
- Ply recycled materials board
A board made of recycled materials has to be the weirdest of all the plywood replacements we have described here. What makes it difficult to explain these recycled board products, such as Ply, is the fact that their producers often don't reveal precisely what materials go into the products. They say they use 100% recycled materials, so we're just going to have to take their word for it that these are alternatives that are especially environmentally friendly.
One of the more common examples of this product is the Ply Board. It claims to be more robust and resilient than normal plywood, not to mention being almost impervious to exposure to water, natural rot, and corrosion.
Ply has this unique but distinctive appearance characterized by gray streaks with a few color patches. While it can seem gloomy in the color scheme, it also makes Ply sheets resistant to vandalization. This means that Ply is a no-maintenance material that is uniquely suited to graffiti-rich municipal projects and community centers.
Ply is only one of a range of recycled board items currently on the market. We also can not promise that it is the best, since we believe that all of these brands have their method of signature and recycled content collection.
It's also liberating to realize that there are perfectly viable alternatives out there even though plywood remains the king of wooden construction panels. These plywood replacements have been able to cover the holes that plywood does not fill in by some creative use of wood scraps, special plastics, or recycled materials.