Engineered Wood Flooring Buying Guide

Consider durable OSB, MDF and melamine flooring boards with a long-lasting, beautiful finish

wood is a manmade wood product created using wood strands, particles, fibers or veneers of wood forged together with adhesives to form composite materials.

Often stronger than solid wood, engineered wood is less prone to warping.

This guide will teach you about different types of finishes and thicknesses so you can choose which is best for your project.

Types of Engineered Wood

Plywood, OSB, particle board and MDF are some of the more common types of engineered wood.

Plywood

  • Produced in large, standard sized sheets, in a dozen thicknesses and a wide variety of finishes and wood species Versatile; stronger and less costly than solid wood
  • Resistant to shrinking, twisting, warping and cracking

Particle board

  • Made with tiny pieces of wood, sawmill shavings or sawdust, glued together and pressed into sheets
  • Most economical of all engineered wood
  • Weakest engineered wood
  • Ideal for utility shelves or inexpensive garage or workshop projects

Oriented strand board (OSB)

  • Stronger than particle board as it’s made with larger pieces of wood, the strands of which are reversed for each layer
  • Can be used in all applications where you would use C-D grade plywood

Medium density fiberboard (MDF)

  • Made by breaking soft woods down into individual fibers, which are then glued and pressed together
  • Denser than particle board
  • Smooth finish that takes paint very well
  • Ideal for interior projects such as built-ins, cabinets, raised panels or simple furniture

Melamine

  • Particle board with a plastic coating applied to each face
  • Strong and easy to clean
  • Ideal for cabinet interiors or any other surface that needs to be durable

Hardwood plywood

  • Veneer core with hardwood veneers on the face and back
  • Widely available in Birch and Oak and as a special order in many other species
  • Ideal for fine furniture projects or any interior application that will be stained, keeping in mind that exposed edges will need to be covered with solid wood

Planning Your Project

Types Usage 1/8” 1/4" 11/23” (3/8”) 7/16” 15/32” (1/2”) 19/32” (5/8”) 23/32” (3/4”)

Construction Plywood/Sheathing

  • Roofs
  • Walls
  • Subfloods

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

OSB

  • Roofs
  • Walls
  • Subfloors

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Siding Panels

  • General Siding
  • Exterior Walls
  • Real Wood Finish

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

BC Sanded

  • Wood Working
  • Cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Crafts

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Oak or Birch Hardwood

  • Cabinet Shelving
  • Storage
  • Furniture

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Particleboard

  • Underlayment
  • Cabinet Construction
  • Crafts

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

MDF

  • Cabinet Construction
  • Crafts
  • Mouldings/Trim Shelving (Bookshelf Siding)

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Hardboard/Pegboard

  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Tool Shed
  • Organization
  • Temporary Flooring Protection

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes


Tip: If you plan to cut plywood yourself, avoid cutting full-size sheets on a table saw. For a safer method, place the sheet on top of sacrificial pieces of wood, such as 2 x 4s laid across two or more sawhorses. You can then use your circular saw to cut the sheet to size. To make repeatable, same-sized cuts, clamp a straight edge to your sheet or buy an attachment for your circular saw that rides along the edge of the plywood.