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Jim Coulson on ‘quality assured’ plywood

IT is now a year since I began this series of articles: and the first three or four of them dealt with the sorts of things you should be looking for, in a ‘good quality’ plywood, in order for it to behave itself when used as an overlay on old floors.
After all, that is one of the most common uses of thin – usually 5mm or 6mm in thickness – plywood in the flooring industry: where a smooth, level surface is required, before laying down expensive vinyl floor coverings and the like.
I have advised you to look for a plywood which has a good glue bond (but not one called ‘WBP’ remember!); plus one which has a good ‘layup’ and also a good, sound top face – that is, a plywood which is without any gaps, hollows or bumps within its construction, which could then show up as blemishes through any high quality floor coverings.
Those are all things that can go wrong with plywood; but which are also quite capable of being eliminated, if the material is well made. So how can you tell if the plywood actually is ‘well made’ and should not give you any of the problems I have just outlined? Of course, you could ask the supplier: but then they will most probably tell you that it is most definitely, ‘good plywood’ (but they all say that, don’t they!).
A much better way is to look for a third-party quality assurance mark on the plywood, which tells you at a glance that it has been independently checked – by a certification body – against an appropriate specification; and it has been found to comply fully with that specification.
There are various quality assurance schemes on the market: but only one which has been designed specifically for checking plywood as used in the UK for flooring overlayment, to a specification that is recommended by the Contract Flooring Association. That is the TFT Diamond Mark.
This therefore means that any plywood which bears the logo of the Diamond Mark will have been independently assessed and tested, to make sure that it meets all of the exacting recommendations and requirements which I have listed above.
Of course, the choice is yours: but why just take the supplier’s word for it, when you can tell from the stamp mark that it is precisely what you need for the job.
Jim Coulson is Director of TFT Woodexperts, based in North Yorkshire
T: 01765 601010

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