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Certification Of Plywood

Jim Coulson on the certification of plywood

IN my articles in CFJ about plywood last year, I banged on about the variable quality of many different types and pointed to the idea of certification (including the TFT Diamond Mark). But it seems to be time for a reminder, and a bit of clarification about the CE Mark. The prevalence of the letters and numbers ‘CE 2+’ on packs of plywood also need an explanation.
In case you didn’t see my article on CE Marking or if you’ve forgotten it with the passage of time, let me repeat that the CE Mark is nothing to do with quality and it is not a guarantee of any sort.
All it means is that the plywood (or any other construction product, for that matter) was made in a factory which has a Factory Production Control document (FPC for short).
And to comply with European rules, or the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) to be more precise, any product used in permanent construction and which comes under a harmonised standard (that is, one adopted by every EU country) must bear a CE Mark.
But if you ask any certification body (strictly speaking, these days, it should be a Notified Body) whether that guarantees the quality of the product they have overseen, they will tell you categorically it does not. All it does is to show that the company (factory, mill, etc) has followed their agreed FPC procedures.
But whether that actually produces any sort of good quality is anybody’s guess – it usually doesn’t, in my experience!
The real bugbear with most Far Eastern (and especially Chinese) plywood is that it is so often labelled CE 2+ like some sort of quality level or warranty of the product. But all that it means is that a notified body has audited its FPC. Nothing else!
The plywood is not necessarily good for anything in particular; and it will not necessarily survive wetting without delaminating. Even so-called ‘constructional’ plywood has no guarantee of strength to it.
So next time you are offered any plywood where the paperwork says it is CE 2+ either decline it altogether, or ask to see much more detail about it, including any strength figures, if using it structurally (such as for a floor or roof deck (but not for overlayment only).
Also ask for proof that it has passed a glue-bond test to the relevant Class of EN 314: that is, Class 2 for humid environments (such as roofs) or Class 3 for wet environments, or where good moisture resistance is a primary requirement. But ‘CE 2+’ on its own is, quite frankly meaningless or even worse, highly misleading.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at