Plywood is a manufactured material used throughout the home in such elements as flooring, walls, and furniture. Veneer-core plywood, the type you're most likely to find at your local home improvement store, is made up of several glued-together layers-or plies-of wood. The number of plies can range from three up to as many as 11. Typically, each layer sits perpendicular to the one below. This composition adds to plywood's strength, which is one of its big selling points. Others include its stability and resistance to moisture-related swelling and warping. Plywood is also lighter than solid wood and, depending on quality, can be less expensive.
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The impressive range of plywood on the market varies according to factors such as core material, thickness, panel size, number of plies, and the species of wood used for the outermost layers-or faces. Other important variations include plywood grade-the aesthetic quality of the faces-and suitability for exterior use.
In recent years, environmental groups have raised an alarm about the off-gassing of formaldehyde used in plywood glues. Keep an eye out for products with low formaldehyde-emission, or “E,” ratings.
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