So, you’ve decided that now is the time for you to start working on home improvement, and part of that involves choosing your furniture — or perhaps even having your furniture made from scratch. Whether you’re building mudroom storage cabinets or a desk for your home office, there are plenty of things to choose from when you visit the lumber yard. But although there are benefits to working with natural wood, with cedar wood deck boards having an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, there is also a lot to like about engineered wood products.

Engineered wood products are specifically engineered, as the name suggests, as opposed to more natural types of wood. Both products serve different purposes and should be used in different settings. But within the subsets of engineered wood products, they themselves have different strengths. With that being said, we’re exploring some of the different types of products available on the market and what they should be used for.

1. AC Plywood and CDX Plywood

You’ve probably heard of plywood. But did you know that plywood is counted among engineered wood products and actually comes in multiple different forms? AC plywood is one form of plywood that is commonly used, primarily for more aesthetic purposes. It’s been used in both floor and ceiling construction, as it’s both strong and attractive, but has also been used for wall sheathing as well. Its main drawback is that, in comparison to other types of engineered wood products, AC plywood is more expensive.

In many ways, CDX plywood is similar to AC plywood and is used similarly. But its primary drawback is that it is not as aesthetically appealing as AC plywood. However, it’s much stronger than AC plywood, and therefore it can still be used in floor and ceiling construction on a structural level.

2. Hardboard

Hardboard is another type of engineered wood product, and it’s sometimes referred to as high density fiberboard. It’s created through the use of wood pulp. Wood pulp is densely packed together and glued with an adhesive that binds it into a usable wood product. Oftentimes, it is compared to oriented strand board, which we’ll discuss next. But hardboard is considered one of the most flexible types of engineered wood products, which means that it can be used for curved walls and other types of curved products. Many expert design services rely upon hardboard for more challenging projects that require a great deal of flexibility.

3. Oriented Strand Board

Now we can move on to oriented strand board. This engineered wood product is actually used as an alternative to plywood in many cases, largely because it is more affordable. Strands and fibers from wood are glued together with adhesive products and hot wax in order to created oriented strand boards, often in the case of large boards. The size of the boards is perfect for wall sheathing, as well as structural building projects. As previously mentioned, oriented strand boards are similar to hardboards, but they should not be used interchangeably. You need to make sure that you’re choosing the right boards for the right projects.

4. I-Joists

Finally, let’s look into i-joists. I-joists are engineered wood products that are primarily created to deal with carrying large loads. They’re true building materials, not so much meant for aesthetic purposes as they are used for structural construction. These include both floor trusses and roof trusses. Additionally, they can be used for many different types of floor or ceiling structural construction.

There are a lot of different advantages to using engineered wood products as opposed to more natural types of wood. They’re actually more environmentally friendly, as they don’t require harvesting as much wood, and they’re made from pieces of wood that would normally have been wasted. Additionally, they tend to be more affordable than traditional types of lumber, lowering the costs of various construction projects.

Make sure that you make educated decisions when choosing engineered wood products. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to choose the engineered wood products that will best serve your specific needs.