Down to Wood

March, 2015


Naturally appealing, it´s difficult to imagine a space without wood. We evaluate the many choices the market now has to offer with wood and wood substitutes.

The only way to be original is to return to our roots´ - Architect Antoni Gaudf
The first thing that comes to our mind when we speak about being natural in design is the use of wood. Wood creates a sensory effect with its look, touch and feel. Traditional popular choices such as teak, mango, sheesham, oak, walnut and rosewood are reminiscent of ancestral homes, though today they are hard to source. However, we do have wood substitutes that can be skilfully used to recreate the look and feel of real wood. Whether you choose to use plywood or MDF, and top it with laminate or veneer, natural is definitely the way to go!

Veneer stories
Veneer is a very thin slice of wood obtained from a tree log. However, veneers are also of different types based on how they are obtained. Rotary-cut veneers are sourced from trees that are mounted horizontally on a machine, and rotated about their longitudinal axis while a cutter peels off layers from the log. The other type is sliced veneers in which logs are sliced instead of being rotated and peeled. Sliced veneers are of better quality but are costlier to produce. Veneers are the closest to real wood since they are actually a slice of wood used to overlay a base of plywood or MDF.

Laminate lessons
Laminates commonly known as Sunmica, which is actually the name of a well-known laminate company that was an early entrant in the Indian laminate market, are artificially produced materials made from paper and plastic resins. They might look like wood, but they aren´t! As a common overlay material, laminates have recently evolved to offer a variety of textures and designs to interiors. They, too, are available in teak and other real wood textures, but in touch and feel, laminate differs from veneer. Laminates are easier to maintain than veneer and are ideal for budget hotels and for spaces for kids.

Fascinating furniture
There can be nothing as easy to work with as wood for furniture. A recent debate highlighted the use plywood vis-a-vis MDF as the base for furniture. Plywood has been in the industry for a long time and was initially used for shelving and small furniture. Now it is popular material base for all furniture. Topped with veneer, it offers an acceptable wooden look. The increased price of plywood gave birth to MDF or particle board, in which fine wood fibres and glue are joined together under pressure to form a strong bond as opposed to plywood, which has layers or plies of wood veneer and glue.

While MDF manufacturers claim it to be equal in strength to plywood, its life and resistance to moisture is still questionable. While internationally MDF is more widely used, in India it is still catching up where it is used in offices and decorative wooden partitions. MDF is considered to be a better option for decorative pieces since it has a smoother texture and can be easily carved and cut out. Laser cut MDF boards are available in the market like contemporary jaalis, light panels, etc. The newest entrant in the wood market is particleboard, which is perceived to be even lesser quality than MDF. However, it is cheaper since it is made from all the waste generated in making plywood and is used extensively for flat pack furniture. Centuryply is planning to start a new facility to manufacture particleboard by the end of this year.

Wood kitchens
Indian consumers also prefer wooden textures for their kitchen. Wood cabinets are not only beautiful and timeless but they also add value to a home. The appearance of kitchen cabinets can vary depending on the type of wood used, its textures and grains as well as colour. While modern kitchens are shying away from wood since it is slightly more difficult to maintain and the trend is towards glossy finishes, a classic home will always opt for a kitchen with wooden accents. Many companies offering modular kitchens bring together the best of both worlds.

Floored by wood
Wooden flooring is a popular and fashionable choice of flooring these days. Hardwood flooring is an expensive option but it is rich in texture and appeal, though difficult to maintain. Another alternative is engineered wood flooring, which is made of plywood with a veneer of fine hardwood on top and laminate wooden flooring made of thin, pressed wood board with an image of wood on top covered by a clear ´wear layer´ to protect the image. While engineered wood is practical and more natural, laminate flooring is gaining momentum and is growing at the rate of by 30-35 per cent. The price point is the key reason behind this growth.

Hardwood floors like hardwood furniture are becoming a rare sight, seen only in high end homes or hotels. Wooden flooring is also becoming adventurous and is now available in innovative wooden parquet panels and combination panels stained in different colours of wood.

Be it on your floor or in your kitchen or your window frame, wood is sure to find some way to make its regal presence felt in any space!

Subodh Mehta,
Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing (B2C), Godrej Interio

Teak wood has been a preferred solid wood material since ages as it is aesthetically good looking, has straight grain pattern, comes in a rich golden-brown colour and feels great to touch. Its beauty makes it score over other hardwoods which are nearly as strong as teak.

While many types of woods are used in making furniture in India, teak, sheesham and mango are the preferred choices. Teak is the most expensive, attractive and durable; sheesham is cheaper but lacks the grace of teak; and mango is cheapest of the three but lacks durability.

However lately designers have shown preference for engineered wood like particle board and MDF since it can be used for mass production. It is easy to transport and can be designed as a knockdown and is also fashionable. Though it is not as durable as teak, it has an aesthetic appeal that can be enhanced with finishes such as teak, wenge, rosewood, mahogany.

Satish Gupta,
Executive Director, Stylam Industries

Stylam is one of largest manufactures and exporters of laminates in Asia with a presence across 80 countries. We recently charted a massive expansion plan with an outlay of Rs 60 crores in various segments including laminates, exterior cladding and exterior flooring. Satish Gupta, Executive Director, Stylam Industries says, After this expansion the production capacity of Stylam will increase by additional 60 lakh sheets per annum. This automated cutting edge technology will not only boost the quality of products but also increase the efficiency with less human intervention. This expertise will cater to the trends in emerging markets with the wider reach of a world class product range at a low cost.

The company is coming up with a 8,000 tonne hydraulic press of 6x14 feet and three 4x8 feet complete production lines, which will be first-of-their-kind for technology and innovation in the world of laminates. This environment friendly and energy conservation know-how will result in low carbon emission and less power consumption.

Stylam innovative product package:
Violam is India´s first laminate with anti-bacterial and anti-fungi properties. The Violam collection has latest designs and textures, and is available in beautiful eye-catching colours and a checkered metal version.

Facia offers functional and aesthetic values for façades, fencing, gate and canopy. It has more than 45 wood décors, 15 plain décors, 2 customised décors in its portfolio with more additions to cater to the design needs of the architect community. Walkon exterior floor boards add style, warmth and elegance to any exterior space such as balconies, walkway or terraces. Beautiful, durable and hygienic, Walkon exterior floor boards are available in a number of colours, designs and grains. Its key features are bottom-side NT, black/brown core, slip-resistance, long-lasting, high-quality construction product, frost-resistant, easy to machine, slate-free, decorative and environment friendly.

Vaibhav Vasishta
MD, Lamiwood

ôCorrectly sourced wood is one of the most renewable resources in the world. Other kinds of man-made floors are produced in mines or factories requiring huge amounts of energy, which thus emit more greenhouse gases. We use wood that is planted for the production of natural rubber as the base for our products. This means the tree is not removed from the forest nor cut down for timber. It is only felled when it has to be replaced towards the end of its natural productive life. Therefore, you may walk on your beautiful floor with absolute confidence that you have made the right choice."

Lamiwood innovative product package
Lamiwood´s Woodline Parquetry is a range that has mastered the art of making high-end hardwood floors with innovative ideas such as reflective pigmented floors, which change colour with different lighting conditions. The flooring reflects light grey when exposed to white light and light brown when exposed to sunlight.
Chervon planks, which were used in old forts, are in trend. Lamiwood offers laminate flooring that recreates this look.

Manish Jain, Director, Bleu Concepts
Wood is a fairly easy material to work with, so construction of wood kitchen cabinets often allows for customisation and more elaborate patterns or shapes. Though full wooden kitchen cabinet gives a priceless look, wood blends very well with other natural materials, too. A combination of wood with metal or textured glass can look magical with amazing designs as seen in the ranges by Bleu Concepts.

Some high-end woods like oak and teak are extremely durable. However, wood kitchen cabinets are susceptible to damage from bug infestations and moisture. Bugs can often chew through the cabinets, and water can warp, crack, or otherwise damage the wood after constant exposure. A bit of care throughout the life of the cabinets can help prevent most of this damage, and proper material choice from the builder will help prevent water damage or bug infestation. Some woods, in fact, are particularly resistant to bugs and moisture. Besides being expensive as compared to processed wood, the lag time to procure perfectly seasoned hardwood might be a long wait, which makes the whole process lengthy.

Punam Kalra, Creative Director, I´m Centre of Applied Arts
Wood always finds a special place in building exteriors, interiors and, of course, furniture. façades in treated woods can extend to main gates, porch and entrances lending a warm and welcoming look to a space. Wall panelling, ceilings and flooring in wood/ veneer finishes imparts a very elegant and lasting look.

It is also important to choose the right colour to achieve the desired look. Dark coloured woods/ veneers add richness to the décor while lighter colours lend a feeling of spaciousness. One can use combinations or even use coloured polishes. However, these surfaces need maintenance, regular buffing and polishing and pesticide treatments.

Recently there has been a huge trend in furniture with exposed wood that can be finished in a variety of ways - natural, distressed, PU painted, leafed or even wall papered.

Alex Joseph, Vice President, Marketing, Greenlam Industries
Wood is the most traditional and the most dynamic material for décor. Wooden home or office interiors reflect your personality and the nature of your work. It creates the right impression and ambience that spell class and luxury. Decowood by Greenlam has been a pioneer in the veneer industry. Our innovative products and ingenious patterns be it natural, smoked, HD, creative line or impressions, keep us ahead of the competition. Impressions offers a plethora of options from petals to flora, petals, scraped, wood, freestyle, sand blast and UV plus, which encourage creativity. Our Silver Splash and HD collections are a culmination of great aesthetic sense and exquisite workmanship.

Sajjan Bhajanka Chairman, Century Plyboards
The total wood industry is around Rs 20,000 crore but the organised sector would estimate to only about Rs 6,000 crore. Centurply has a market share of 25% of the organised sector or around 6% of the entire market. Our plywood is in maximum demand followed by laminates. Veneers are preferred by a very niche segment of the market since they are expensive but laminates are much appreciated for being value for money. In the plywood segment, the Centuryply Waterproof plywood is in maximum demand while natural wood laminates are popular, too. We also have a laminate, which is around 12mm thick and can withstand temperature as high as 80o and as low as -30o. This makes it ideal to be used on exteriors. It is also water proof, easy to maintain and very durable. Our fire resistant plywood is also a big hit since it can resist fire for approximately 30 minutes, which beats the perception that wood easily catches fire.

Godrej Interio
Tel: 022-6796 5656 / 5959
Tel: 172-5021555
Bleu Concepts
Tel: 011-2650 1236
IÆM The Centre For Applied Arts
Tel: 011-4878 0006