The quality of general commercial hardwood plywood has steadily declined as the availability of legal and sustainable high quality hardwood logs has become more of an issue. This decline in quality became a growing concern for the flooring industry as more and more installation failures were being reported.
The flooring industry invests very heavily and uses the latest technology to produce some highly sophisticated premium quality products, ranging from adhesives and screeds to the actual decorative floor covering itself. As an integral component of the subfloor, plywood really does need to be able to perform reliably alongside some very high value products.
In 2012 the CFA (Contract Flooring Association) were increasingly being made aware of the problems being experienced by its members with regard to plywood. Costly failures directly attributable to the use of poor quality plywood were now becoming a common occurrence.
The association recognised the need for the flooring industry to be able to work to reliable standards, and after following a process of diligent professional consultation, the CFA issued a Plywood Guidance Note in 2013 which provides a reliable documented reference to work with. This was a significant step forward in providing the flooring industry with much clearer understanding of plywood technicalities and performance as part of the subfloor preparation process.
Having looked at the work undertaken by the CFA, and considering all of the technical requirements of a plywood product that would reliably meet the specific requirements of the flooring industry, SP101 Flooring Plywood® was developed and presented to industry in 2013.
It is a unique tailored specification which is produced under very strict control and testing at the factory, but also undergoes further third party testing and approval by TFT Woodexperts to achieve the Diamond Mark Certification.
The key features that are addressed in manufacture and ensure panels are guaranteed fit for purpose include;
- Thicker outer veneers
- Reliable Gluing
- Strict thickness/dimensional tolerances
- Controlled moisture content
- High quality core
The industry recognises the importance of fit-for-purpose plywood and manufacturers of floor coverings and adhesives have been keen to test SP101 alongside their own products to ensure all materials would work in harmony. Extensive performance testing has taken place since 2013, and SP101 is now widely recognised as being fully fit for purpose.
BS 8203: 2017 Code of practice for installation of resilient floor coverings
Annex A: Guidance on the selection and specification of suitable plywood for fabricated underlays
The CFA Guidance has been very successful and is now widely adopted throughout the industry. In view of this further work was undertaken by the CFA, its manufacturing committee and BSi representatives, to introduce the guidance into British Standards. The normative Annex A has now been included in BS 8203 providing a performance specification for plywood.
N.B. A normative annex defines guidance that should be followed.
This is seen as a significant development for the industry, as it will now give manufacturers and installers a clear reference on the specification of plywood that should be used for a successful and reliable installation. Trained fitters that are working to BS 8203 will now need to ensure they are using the correct specification of plywood.
Notable manufacturers of LVT, adhesives and all other allied products have acknowledged and welcomed this addition to BS 8203 standard. The application of SP101 Flooring Plywood® is demonstrated at all floor fitting training schools throughout the UK.
SP101 Flooring Plywood® is the first plywood panel to be produced specifically for the flooring industry.
It is also the first plywood product to be manufactured in accordance, and certified as fully compliant, with BS 8203 Annex A and the CFA Guidance.