What is the difference between birch and Baltic birch?
Plywood is a popular building material used for anything from furniture to walls. It’s made from thin sheets of wood, each around ¼ inch thick, glued together to form one large sheet. Plywood comes in wide varieties, including birch or Baltic birch plywood, but what is the difference between these two types? And which should you choose? Let’s explore each type’s ins and outs below so you can decide which one is right for your project!
Is Baltic birch better than birch plywood?
The short answer is that Baltic plywood is better than domestic birch. That’s because it’s more stable, stronger, and has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than domestic birch plywood.
Baltic birch plywood is made from layers of wood veneer bonded together with resin under high temperature and pressure. The result is a much more stable material that is less likely to warp or cup over time than regular plywood (which can make it difficult or impossible to use). It also has better moisture resistance thanks to its thicker core layer and ability to resist compression forces from outside sources like screws or nails. This makes Baltic Birch Plywood ideal for applications where moisture, such as outdoor furniture or kitchen cabinets, might be an issue.
What is the difference between domestic birch and Baltic birch?
Domestic birch plywood is made from a species of birch called Betula papyrifera, or the “paper birch.” While Baltic birch plywood is made from a different species of wood known as Betula pendula, or the “European white birch.” Because it’s more expensive than domestic-quality material, Baltic birch is usually reserved for projects that require extra strength and durability, such as cabinets or furniture. It’s also commonly used in high-end musical instruments like violins because of its tonal qualities.
Where does Baltic birch come from?
Baltic birch is plywood composed of thin layers of wood, sand and glue. An excellent way to think about it is like a stack of pancakes: the top layer is all maple syrup, then a layer of pancake batter, another layer of maple syrup, etc.
Baltic birch, aka Russian birch, is more expensive than regular (American) birch because it takes longer to make and requires more wood from higher-quality trees that are less common in the United States (though you can find American Baltic birch too). It is slightly reddish compared to white or blonde American birches, like an extra-ripe peach.
Does Baltic birch splinter more than regular birch plywood?
Another difference between Baltic birch and domestic birch is the density of the wood. Baltic birch is a more rigid, dense wood than regular domestic birch plywood. Because it’s denser and has fewer voids, Baltic birch is stronger than its domestic counterpart. This makes it less likely to splinter or crack during use, which can be especially helpful if you’re using your plywood for projects where you’ll be applying any sort of pressure (such as on a tabletop).
In addition to being less likely to splinter or crack under pressure, Baltic birch also has one other advantage over regular domestic birch; it tends not to warp over time like some other types of plywood can do when exposed to high humidity or moisture.
What kind of adhesive is used to make Baltic plywood?
In addition to being plywood made of Baltic birch, another thing that sets it apart from standard plywood is the adhesive used between the layers. While both types are glued together with a phenol formaldehyde resin, there are some crucial differences:
- Phenol formaldehyde glue is stronger than urea-formaldehyde glue, meaning it’s more resistant to moisture and can hold together better when subjected to stress. It’s also not toxic or flammable like urea formaldehyde glues can be (though those properties aren’t necessarily desirable in general).
Phenol-formaldehyde glues are usually not fully cured until they’ve been dried for several weeks or even months after they’re applied. You should wait until your project is finished before using this type of glue.