Binders in Manufactured Wood Products: Beyond Formaldehyde
Concerned about emissions regulations, the manufactured wood products industry is moving away from glues formulated with urea formaldehyde and phenol formaldehyde.
Manufactured wood products—including plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB), laminated-strand lumber, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF)—have the environmental advantage of being made from small-diameter or other low-quality trees or waste from wood-processing operations, conserving higher-quality timber. With these products, the wood is peeled into thin veneers, chipped into small strands or flakes, or ground into wood flour; in each case, the pieces are then glued to produce a durable and stable panel or lumber product.
Two glues, or binders as they are called in the industry, dominate the manufactured wood products industry: urea formaldehyde (UF) and phenol formaldehyde (PF). For interior-grade products, including particleboard, MDF, and hardwood plywood, UF binders have long been more popular because of their low cost and light color compared with PF binders. For exterior-grade applications PF binders are favored because of their better moisture resistance.
Published September 28, 2007