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Meranti Plywood – What, How, Why

Meranti is the trade name used in the plywood industry to designate a selected number of tropical species of rainforest trees from the Shorea family. It is endemic to Southeast Asia with the majority of species growing throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, although it can be found in parts of the Philippines and Northern India as well.

Meranti Wood Properties

The wood is similar in color and grain to Mahogany and thus is sometimes referred to as Philippine Mahogany although the grain texture is rougher than true Mahogany. Meranti is an interlocking grain, non-resinous wood, making it highly desirable over other tropical species such as Keruing which may have oily cores.

Construction Usage

Meranti is a tropical hardwood with density varying from 25 to 50 lbs/cu ft. It’s resilience and relatively low cost of manufacture make it ideal as a utility wood product for non-cosmetic usage such as container, flatbed truck and van lining, RV construction, drawer bottoms and sides, etc. Because of its consistent grain and uniform color it is also laminated and rebranded for use in cabinetry and flooring within the United States. In parts of Mexico, red and pink species are sought after for cabinetry and woodwork, where the cosmetic face is directly exposed.

Meranti is also used to construct boats, where its rainforest properties allow it to fair well to exposure to moisture. These woods are generally BS1088 certified if going to UK markets, and are bonded using some sort of Phenol or Urea Formaldehyde waterproof (WBP) resin.

Rates of Duty in the United States

According to the 2009 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, Meranti plywood is subject to a 8% import duty unless originated from tariff exempted countries such as Indonesia.

Manufacture and Production

Meranti is widely sought after throughout Europe, Asia and North America, however strong demand for its cheaper replacement, Chinese Birch, has caused a contraction in global production volume. As a result, hundreds of factories throughout Malaysia and Indonesia have closed down. In addition, as a result of its Critically Endangered conservation status, it is no longer produced in the Philippines and quotas have been strictly reduced throughout most of Indonesia. The global demand of Meranti remains uncertain in the world of plywood manufacture.

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