Wood pan­els

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A num­ber of sus­tain­able ex­otic plan­ta­tion tim­bers are grown in New Zealand. Macro­carpa, which is of­ten used as an all-pur­pose term for cy­presses, is one of the most pop­u­lar in­te­rior tim­bers for its warm golden-brown tone and nat­u­ral re­sis­tance to borer. Law­son’s cy­press, a paler cy­press, is also pop­u­lar for a more Scan­di­na­vian ef­fect. There are also a huge num­ber of im­ported wood op­tions. These can usu­ally be sourced as sus­tain­able plan­ta­tion tim­ber with well-recog­nised cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, though they have the ob­vi­ous draw­back of need­ing to be trans­ported long dis­tances to get here.

Wood pan­els come in sev­eral types – ply­wood, which is made of very thin sheets of wood glued to­gether to give the sheet strength and warp-re­sis­tance, and medium-den­sity fi­bre­board (MDF), par­ti­cle board and ori­ented strand board (OSB), which are made from sawmill waste held to­gether by resins. MDF con­tains the small­est wood par­ti­cles, and OSB the largest. Re­cy­cling sawmill waste is a pos­i­tive for the en­vi­ron­ment; how­ever, the main draw­back for these prod­ucts is that the resins used in them usu­ally con­tain formalde­hyde, a known car­cino­gen that can off-gas into the en­vi­ron­ment.

There are some formalde­hyde-free prod­ucts, but most pan­els carry an emis­sions rat­ing for the amount of formalde­hyde they re­lease. Ask for pan­els with a rat­ing of E0 or E1, which are the high­est stan­dards for in­door air. Check to en­sure the prod­uct you’re spec­i­fy­ing car­ries a sus­tain­able forestry cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Some prod­ucts carry En­vi­ron­men­tal Choice cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, but just be­cause one prod­uct in a range car­ries it doesn’t mean all will, so check ev­ery prod­uct. Choose nat­u­ral fin­ishes that use plant-based oils, tree resins and waxes.

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