Engineered wood comes in a number of different forms. It is a manmade form of wood that is made by combining wood fibers, wood particles, wood shavings, and sawdust. Then, it is often mixed with resin and compressed with high heat.
Compressed wood can be used as a subfloor. In spite of this, it is not as strong as plywood, and the drawbacks nearly always beat out any benefits of using it as a subfloor. It comes as particle board, medium density fiberboard, and high density fiberboard, with the fiber board being a better option for a subfloor.
What Is Compressed Wood?
Compressed wood is a type of wood that is manmade. It consists of wood shavings, wood particles, wood fibers, and sawdust. It also has resin, and it is compressed under heat. There are three main types of compressed wood, including particle board, medium density fiberboard, and high density fiberboard.
Particle board is inexpensive, and it is lightweight. It is easy to cut, and it works well for insulation. It is often used for false ceilings and in the inner layers of doors. Medium density fiberboard is similar, but it is more durable. It is often used the same way as particle board. High density fiberboard is even more durable and dense, and it can be used for a subfloor as well.
Compressed wood is a type of engineered wood, but there are others in this category. Plywood, which is the most popular subfloor material, is also engineered wood. However, it is made during a different process, and it is more durable and sturdy than compressed wood.
Differences Between Compressed Wood and Plywood
Compressed wood and plywood are both types of engineered wood that are used in construction. Plywood is more durable and sturdy, and it is used in a wide range of applications, including subflooring.
The difference between plywood and compressed wood is in how they are made. Plywood is made by taking layers of hard and soft wood that alternate and are held together by pressure and adhesives. It is durable and sturdy, and it is commonly used in construction.
Compressed wood is less durable, and it is not as sturdy. Particle board is not used in load-bearing applications in construction. It can be used in partition walls, ceilings, and inside of doors. It is good at insulating, but it is not sturdy enough to serve as a subfloor.
Medium and high density fiberboards are also compressed wood, and they can be used as a subfloor. They are more durable and denser than particle board.
Pros and Cons of Using Compressed Wood
Particle boards have both pros and cons. It is inexpensive and lightweight, and it is mostly used in non-weight bearing applications or to make furniture or cabinets. Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is made of small wood fibers, and it can be used as a subfloor. It needs to be treated and waterproofed, but it is denser and stronger than particle board. The benefit to using it is that it is a lower cost material.
The biggest disadvantage to using compressed wood as a subfloor is that it warps and swells when it gets wet, and it absorbs moisture. If you use this material, it is important to treat it with moisture resistant materials and cover it with a water resistant membrane.
It can be used under different types of flooring, but you should avoid using it in a bathroom or another room that is prone to moisture. You can use it under vinyl flooring or carpeting, but it should always be treated first to reduce swelling if it comes into contact with any moisture.
What Is the Most Common Material Used for a Subfloor?
The most common material used for subflooring is plywood. It has been the standard material used since the 1950s, and it is easy to work with, durable, and affordable. It is made by layers of wood veneer that are glued together, and it can last many years. Another common material is concrete, which is often used on the first floor of a house or in the basement.
How Is Compressed Wood Used for Flooring?
People often find that they have compressed wood underneath wall-to-wall carpets. In this case, it isn’t the subfloor, but rather, the underlayment. This is a thin layer between the structural subfloor and the carpet. It is used to raise the floor for the carpet. It doesn’t hold nails as well as plywood because it is brittle. If you find this type of underlayment, you likely have plywood underneath.
What to Do If You Have a Compressed Wood Subfloor
If you find that you have a compressed wood subfloor, you need to consider what type of compressed wood it is. If it is particle board, you will want to replace it or cover it with a sturdier subfloor. If it is MDF or HDF and it isn’t installed in a bathroom, you can leave it and place the floor over it. Make sure that you seal it so that it doesn’t swell from moisture.
Although you can use some forms of compressed wood as a subfloor, you are better off using plywood. Compressed wood can be particle board, medium density fiberboard, or high density fiberboard. Particle board is never a good choice because it isn’t sturdy enough to be a subfloor. Although you can work with MDF or HDF, you need to make sure that they won’t absorb any moisture or they can swell.