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Different Types of Composite Woods

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Romtec uses a variety of construction materials in our buildings and structures. Each project is designed, supplied, and constructed according to the specifications of our client, including material choices such as environmentally friendly options and visual design features. Composite woods are frequently used in our buildings and offer unique advantages over traditional wood and other materials. We’re going to review several composite wood products that Romtec has included in many of our buildings and structures over the years.

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Understanding the unique properties of composite wood materials can help anyone make informed choices on their next construction project. Composite materials are engineered products that can take on many forms in a building. These materials are often designed for specific purposes and excel in their areas. Glulam timber, plywood, oriented strand board, particleboard, and fiberboard are all composite woods that are frequently used across the construction industry. Modern technology and new techniques have allowed these materials to be produced in higher qualities and become even more effective over the years.

Glulam Timber

Glulam timber is the first composite wood we are discussing and it is one of the oldest glued composite materials. They are created using multiple pieces of prepared wood that is glued together to create a robust structural component. Each piece of wood used to create a glulam is rated for a certain weight with the two strongest pieces on the outer layers where the most strain will be. This process allows beams to be created in dramatic sizes that would be impossible to recreate with natural wood. Glulams can even be shaped and curved to create unique designs while still supporting the structure. Romtec frequently includes glulams in our structures to design buildings and structures with unique architectural features.

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Plywood is one of the most widely known composite wood materials and is often synonymous with other composite woods. It is produced in many different sizes and strengths by layering sheets of veneer, or plies, in multiple rows and binding them with adhesive. Plywood is regarded for its versatility in interior and exterior applications from structural framing to furniture.

Oriented Strand Board

OSBs are another composite wood material frequently used in our buildings. These panels are engineered for structural use and can be combined with other materials to create unique products, like structurally insulated panels (SIPs). OSBs are created from reclaimed wood using thin wood strands aligned and bound together with an adhesive resin. Typically, OSBs comprise three layers with the outsides oriented in the same direction while the inner layer is counter-aligned or placed randomly. This style of assembly gives OSBs superior bending strength and rigidity making them ideal for structural use.

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Particleboards are also used for construction in a variety of applications. Manufacturers produce particleboards by reducing raw wood and plant materials into tiny particles and pressing them into mats using heat and significant pressure. Rather than using wood flakes or other more expensive materials, the particleboard industry began into using sawdust, wood shavings, and other waste materials to reduce costs and recycle materials. The composition of these boards creates an extremely smooth surface that is ideal for painting over or applying veneer. Particleboards are also used for thermal insulation and sound attenuation, but are almost exclusively used in interior settings to prevent moisture from breaking down the binding.


Fiberboards are another engineered wood and shares some similarities with particleboards. These panels are manufactured using wood fibers rather than particulates. Fiberboards utilize the natural strength of wood and can be configured to fit the application. There are several density options for fiberboards, including hardboard (high-density fiberboard), insulation board (cellulosic fiberboard), and MDF (medium-density fiberboard). Each of these configurations have varying applications. Hardboard is very robust and is frequently used for construction, flooring, and furniture. MDF is also used in construction, but does not offer the same rigidity as HDF so is typically not installed for flooring and areas where direct contact is expected. Insulation board can be used for thermal insulation and sound attenuation in walls and floors.

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The capabilities of composite materials continue to expand as new technology and techniques are developed to use organic materials as engineered solutions. Plywood, OSB, particleboard, fiberboard, and glulam timber are examples of composite woods that are frequently used in construction projects around the world. Each of these materials offer distinct advantages and can be produced in varying strengths and sizes. Composite woods can be mass produced using leftover wood products and flawed wood that would otherwise be unfit. Romtec has included these products into our design countless times over the years. Call Romtec for more information about how glulams and other composite materials can benefit your building project today!

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