December 18, 2016

Why birch in a country full of Radiata pine?

It took a long time for us to settle on the material we've chosen for Plyhome furniture. We wanted something beautiful but strong. Something that would play subtle background decor role for all styles of NZ homes - villa to contemporary apartment and everything in between. Our wish-list was brutal, but we found everything we needed with European Birch Plywood. Here's an overview of why it made the cut.


The birch plywood that we've selected for Plyhome furniture isn't the cheap yellowish plywood that you see on building sites or at the hardware store. It's on a completely different level: a stand-out beauty, with a beautiful clear grain and subtle light colour. It's the timber version of an excellent marble really. 
We should emphasise, this is not an engineered grain. The wood grain that you see in Plyhome products is a genuine wood grain and in addition to the matte black, matte white or smoky olive  solid finishes, you have the choice of a natural birch, lava, pebble, toffee stain to really embrace that natural grain. It's why each and every single piece of Plyhome furniture is unique - no two pieces will ever look the same due to the natural variation of the timber, but each one will have a high quality grain. This consistency is one of the reasons we selected European birch plywood.


As beautiful as it is, appearance isn't just what we focus on when we're in the design process. Function is just as important, and this is where birch really shines. The durability and strength of birch plywood is very hard to beat.
The 18mm plywood we use is a panel made up of 13 thin multiple cross-banded veneers, each 1.4mm thick. In non-engineering speak, this means that each layer is laid crosswise (so the grain of two consecutive layers form a 90 degree angle). Lots of ply is made this way: but birch is an impressive performer. There's a reason that it's used for concrete form-work systems, floors, walls and roofs in transport vehicles, container floors, floors subjected to heavy wear in various buildings and factories and load bearing special structures. If it can take a commercial freight-load in an 18 wheeler, it can handle one kid.


One of the reasons for birch's consistently beautiful grain is because these trees grow slowly in Europe's climate. But slow-growing doesn't mean unsustainable. The beginning of active forest management in Europe dates back to the 19th century, creating a firm basis for the development of the country’s forest products industry.
Thanks to good forestry practices and sustainable forest management, the annual growth of European forests exceeds the amount harvested. And as we discussed right at the start of our Plyhome journey, if you’re going to cut down a tree - plywood makes the most efficient use of it, as there is very minimal waste.
The Plyhome birch is from an FSC Certified mill using sustainable timbers, ISO 9001 certified and FSC-STD-40-004, Attestation Emmission Class E1, Complies with CARB Phase 2 and TSCA Title VI.  That’s a whole bunch of science talk to basically say you can rest easy knowing that your kids are surrounded by a material that’s safe and produced in an environmentally friendly way. Phew.

The finish: 

For all Plyhome furniture you have seven colour options. A natural birch, lava, pebble or toffee stain, or an HPL in matte white, matte black, and smoky olive finish. Samples are available, so just call us on 0800PLYHOME or email us at if you're at all unsure.
So why birch? beauty, strength and sustainability: a powerful trio indeed.

Read more