Introduction

The top layer of engineered flooring consists of veneers of precious tree species, possessing beautiful natural wood grain patterns, and imparting the flooring with a genuine wood texture. Based on different production methods, veneers can be categorized as rotary-cut, sliced, or sawn. Among them, rotary-cut wood has the highest utilization rate but relatively uniform texture, thinner veneers, and a division between loose and tight grains, making it prone to cracking. Therefore, more engineered flooring uses sliced and sawn veneers as top layers. So, what are the differences between them?

Rotary-cut veneer

Processing

Slicing refers to the direct crosswise or lengthwise cutting of logs using rotating circular saw blades to produce veneers. To avoid cracks caused by crosswise slicing, most veneers used in engineered flooring are longitudinally sliced.

Slicing has many advantages. It generates low material wastage and allows precise control of veneer thickness.

Sliced veneer

Sawing is mostly done using horizontal band saws to cut wood. To achieve the required wood texture and improve yield, before sawing, logs are segmented into several lumbers of different diameters, which are then sawn into veneers of the required thickness.

Sawing is less efficient than slicing. Each production run results in approximately 2mm of saw kerf waste, leading to lower material utilization. However, the veneers produced by sawing exhibit stronger dimensional stability and fewer processing defects.

Veneer sawing

Thickness

Slicing was initially used in the production of veneer panels, laminated wood, and similar products, with veneer thickness mostly below 1.0mm. Veneers used in engineered flooring are mostly 1mm to 2mm thick, with fewer quality defects at this thickness. Machines capable of slicing 2.5mm, 3mm, or even thicker veneers are now available.

Sawn veneers are thicker. By adjusting the production parameters of the circular saw machine, veneers ranging from 2mm to 6mm in thickness can be produced.

Color

Compared to sawn veneers, sliced veneers tend to have a slightly darker color. Before slicing thicker veneers, the lumber need to undergo steaming treatment, which effectively enhances veneer toughness and reduces the incidence of internal cracks. After steaming, sliced veneers darken in color.

Defects

In addition to color, sliced veneers have rough surfaces with more burrs, leading to roughness. Thicker sliced veneers are more prone to surface cracking.

Burrs

Sawn veneers have saw marks on the surface, with uneven surfaces unsuitable for gluing. Therefore, sanding to a flat surface is necessary before use, further reducing material utilization.

Saw marks

Price

For veneers of the same thickness, sliced veneers are priced lower due to their higher yield compared to sawn veneers.

Conclusion

Since there is no significant difference in texture between sawn and sliced wood, they are mostly interchangeable. Considering the potential defects of sliced veneers, they are often used in handscraped or brushed products, with additional processing to address surface defects. For flooring with a total thickness of 14mm and above, sawn veneers with better dimensional stability are preferred to balance surface stress and increase product added value.

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