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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 Permalink