Carpenters have long appreciated the versatility, strength and cost-effectiveness of 4×8 veneer architectural panels. To create veneer panels, thin layers of wood are pressed onto materials such as medium density fiberboard (MDF). A major benefit of this product is that the consumer gets to enjoy the beauty of natural wood without paying for a more expensive wood core that will never be seen anyway.
Here are a few other stylistic benefits of 4×8 veneer architectural panels:
Strength. Veneer panels are strong enough to be used in cabinetry and other weight-bearing applications.
Requires less wood. When being used for architectural applications, solid wood must be cut at no less than 1 1/8 inches, whereas veneer panels make use of wood as thin as 1/40 of an inch. This means otherwise unusable recycled wood may be put to use in veneer panels. It also makes the panels more cost effective.
Versatile. Recycled wood can be pressed onto either medium density fiberboard or fire rated cores. Additionally, wood-on-wood veneers may be created for application on curved walls.
Earth-friendly. Veneer panels are eco-friendly, as long as you choose a manufacturer who uses recycled lumber and pays attention to LEED standards. Some 4×8 veneer architectural panels, for instance, are made of Forest Stewardship Council-approved MDF, with no volatile organic compounds. (This means that there is no toxic off-gassing down the road.)
Locally made. Some manufacturers are now creating 4×8 veneer panels right here in the U.S., reducing our dependence on foreign producers and promoting local economies.
For most carpenters, however, the most important feature of 4×8 veneer architectural panels is that they don’t contract or expand with humidity and temperature changes. This means veneer panels may be used in cabinetry, casework, framing and other applications that cannot easily accept climate changes.
How to Incorporate 4×8 Veneer Panels into Your Home or Office
Wall Paneling. Sure, you could choose solid wall panels for your den, living room or office, but that would be more expensive and time consuming. When used as wall paneling, 4X8 veneer architectural panels are quick to install – just use a cleat system to hang the large sheets of veneer, and voila! You have a wall panel that’s easy to remove in case you need to access electrical or plumbing components.
Cabinetry. Many consumers long to bring the natural glow of wood into their kitchens but are unaware of which recycled wood products make the best materials for cabinets. As mentioned earlier, veneer panels excel in variable moisture conditions. They can take the heat, cold and moisture that alternate in any kitchen. In contrast, solid wood cabinet drawers will swell in the summer, making them hard to open.
One hint when selecting 4X8 veneer architectural panels for kitchen applications: Look for high-quality panels that are solidly affixed to the substrate material with strong glue. Otherwise, excessive moisture could cause the thin veneer layer to peel off the backing over time.
Casework. The small-space revolution in home design, fueled by a poor economy and dismal housing market, is changing the way people store items in their homes. More homebuyers are asking for built-in bookcases, display cases and other storage options. Likewise, office managers clamor for built-in storage, which facilitates good organization. Recycled lumber 4X8 veneer architectural panels are ideal for this kind of casework.
Framing. Wood’s tendency to shrink and expand is especially problematic around windows and doors. During the winter, wood frames will shrink, opening tiny crevices where cold air can infiltrate a home or office. And in the summer, frames swell, pressing on nearby walls and windows. Using 4X8 veneer architectural panels around doors and windows solves both problems. This recycled wood product will not change in size with the climate, leading to improved energy efficiency and fewer framing repairs over time.
Doors. Let’s face it: Most of us are tough on our doors. We slam them, knock on them and generally treat them as if they’re indestructible. If you’re looking for a strong, long-lasting door material, consider using 4X8 veneer architectural panels.
These are only a few of the many applications of 4X8 veneer architectural panels, which have come a long way since the flimsy veneer panels of the 1980s. For one thing, it was rare for manufacturers to use recycled lumber back then; now, a variety of recycled wood paneling is available for commercial and residential applications. If it’s been a while since you tried building with veneer panels, it may be time to give them a second chance.