Author Topic: Delaminating veneer on plywood  (Read 2368 times)

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Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Delaminating veneer on plywood
« on: February 16, 2023, 03:28 PM »
A few months ago I built a “coffee bar” using maple veneered 3/4” ply.  A small job, but it took a bit of time because of the required templating, trimming and finishing.

The maple veneer is now delaminating.

1.  I paid about $90.00 for the plywood from Lowes.  I can’t produce the receipt but it was paid for with my AMEX card—so traceable. 

2.  Do I just walk in with photos, or samples from the unused portion to the returns desk?

3.  Do I contact the store manager or write to headquarters.

It is clearly a defective sheet of ply.  Even if they do give me a credit for the plywood, it is doubtful that they would cover my other costs or my labor.

How would you approach this?  I’m pretty upset.  I have about 10 hours labor invested, trim pieces and finish.  Plus, I like the coffee bar. 

I wrote about this earlier when I was still happy with the plywood.  Image is shown.  I will try to get an image of the delaminations, but I am not certain that it will photograph well.


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Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 533
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2023, 04:24 PM »
I do not expect Lowe's to offer anything beyond an adjustment or refund of the plywood purchase price.  In my experience the quality of plywood available from the big box stores is very unpredictable and the surprises are usually on the bad side.  For any serious project I source my sheet goods from a specialty supplier whose business is mostly with cabinet shops...I've never had a problem with their plywood.  Sorry for your troubles.

Offline tjbnwi

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Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2023, 04:32 PM »
Don’t expect much more than the cost of the sheet.

I had a couple of bunks of pre-finished maple ply that had issues, all I got was a too bad, should have caught it before the cabinets were made. Cost me almost 5K.

We no longer use that brand plywood or supplier.

Tom

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1974
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2023, 05:08 PM »
Depending on the local store and local manager, I've seen them blame the customer for working with the product out of scope or otherwise causing the damage themselves.  Sometimes it depends on how good or bad of a quarter the manager just had, unfortunately.

Offline eschumac

  • Posts: 72
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2023, 05:24 PM »
Poly top in a window with a lot of sun. Maybe a lot of temp changes? Moisture? Single pane glass? I see a very old unsafe baseboard heater on the wall.

What city is this in?

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2023, 05:37 PM »
I just walked into the shop to examine the off-cuts.  They are not exhibiting any delaminations. 

Does that mean I have to use solid lumber for this?

I don’t think it should have delaminated, especially in the winter in a climate controlled environment.

I have a 12’ x 30” desk made from two pieces of oak plywood with the same oil-based finish.  It looks fine after 25+ years, and a western exposure which gets more intense light than the eastern exposure for the coffee bar.

My expectations were that this plywood should last for years, not months.

Offline eschumac

  • Posts: 72
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2023, 05:41 PM »
Need to tell us more if you want to know why it happened.

I doubt Lowes would give you anything.

Scrap wont tell you anything. I'm guessing the issue is the location of install, environmental and potentially how you finished it.

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1974
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2023, 05:41 PM »
The best way to get a picture would probably be with a raking light to highlight the delamination.

I'm guessing that the 25+ year old oak plywood has a thicker face than the recent maple plywood, even if they're finished the same.  Are they both subject to similar temperature and/or humidity as each other?

Offline luvmytoolz

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Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2023, 06:12 PM »
Unless condensation is running down the glass onto the top I don't see anything in that install that would cause a good sheet to go faulty. I would hazard the sheet itself was faulty (dry glue join in that area?) and the heat from the window over time caused it to raise. From memory you only did this recently, if the damage was purely caused by the window/environment I would think it should surely take a longer to break down?

I've often  left plywood and timber scraps outside for ages and it's always taken a very appreciable amount of time before they break down or delaminate.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2023, 06:19 PM »
Need to tell us more if you want to know why it happened.

I doubt Lowes would give you anything.

Scrap wont tell you anything. I'm guessing the issue is the location of install, environmental and potentially how you finished it.

Finished with 7 coats of wipe on poly (50% Minwax oil based poly/50% mineral spirits).

The sunroom is a three season room. It has electric heat, but I never turn it on).  It never drops below 65 degrees, and in the colder months that it has existed, never experiences temperatures above 70 degrees.  The morning sun warms the room to make it comfortable in the fall and winter.  In the summer it gets hot, but the counter has yet to experience that.

I have used this finish for many years.  It has proven to be tough and durable. And I find it more attractive than any of the water based finishes.

The counter was finished off with butchers wax applied with 0000 steel wool.

That’s about all that I can offer on the finish, environment and age of the projects.

I would add that the remainder of the sheet was stored first in an unheated garage, before it’s recent move to the unheated (but comfortable) basement shop. The unfinished ply shows no delaminating, however, I will not use it for any serious projects.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2023, 06:22 PM by Packard »

Offline eschumac

  • Posts: 72
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2023, 09:23 PM »
Have you used your finish approach on plywood before? Could have been too much spirits for whatever that laminate used.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2023, 09:39 AM »
Have you used your finish approach on plywood before? Could have been too much spirits for whatever that laminate used.

Yes.  It is my clear finish of choice.  I use it to topcoat painted surfaces as we as stained pieces. 

But I think I will make a sample board comparing wipeon, straight oil based poly, and water based poly and let it age a bit to see if there is any difference.

I have never heard of anyone having delamination issues with this finish.

I forgot to mention that I preceded those wipe on coats with a coat of Seal Coat (2 pound cut of dewaxed shellac).

I always use an initial coat of Seal Coat on all my clear finishes.  I would think that the Seal Coat would protect the surface from any additional penetration the added mineral spirits might bring.

If this is my fault, I would want to know.

Note:  The afore mentioned oak ply desk top did not have the Seal Coat.  It was just brushed on Minwax Poly.  I have added the Seal Coat only in the last 5 years.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2023, 09:42 AM »
Do we think that these photos are sufficient to make my case? Enlarging the image seems to make the case better. I have nothing to actually carry in without first demolishing the counter.  I would want to use this counter as the template for the next one—so I have to hold onto it until I cut the next one.





Offline woodferret

  • Posts: 435
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2023, 12:13 PM »
Looks like UV/sun damage and usage on a really thin veneer.  It's started near the solid edge banding (where the veneer is probably even thinner due to sanding?)

It being a drinking area really doesn't help matters. 

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2023, 01:36 PM »
So whose fault is that?

Mine, for using it in a mildly hostile environment, where historically this application would have proven durable.

Or, Lowes’ for selling a product without a warning:  The product may not endure where historically it had, due to improved production capabilities that allow the product to have substantially thinner veneers than in the past. 

Offline dicktill

  • Posts: 386
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2023, 02:03 PM »
... or instead of yanking the whole thing out and redoing it, what about sanding/scraping the crappy veneer off and applying your choice of new veneer or laminate or ?

Offline woodferret

  • Posts: 435
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2023, 02:40 PM »
If it makes you feel any better, even the latest Herman Miller product sheet and care instructions cautions that their veneer products are susceptible to UV damage.  Goes so far as to suggest users keep moving things about the desk to equalize it and to shade it from direct exposure. 

So you're hardly alone here.

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 6212
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2023, 02:45 PM »
That patch looks like what happens when veneer gets wet and then dries. Can moisture get into the veneer along the joint between the edge strip?

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2023, 03:45 PM »
That patch looks like what happens when veneer gets wet and then dries. Can moisture get into the veneer along the joint between the edge strip?

The room is entirely dry.  No water intrusion at all.  Prime windows and door, insulated, but with an electric baseboard heater which I never use. 

I think I’m a victim of technology.  The new improved technology allows them to use veneers that are just thousandths of an inch thick.  They have to limit the amount of adhesive or it will saturate the thinner veneer.

Some 54 years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, I made an improvised desk using a hollow core door. It had plywood door skins, a generous solid wood surround and honeycomb bonded to both interior surfaces.

Some 25 years ago, when I moved into my current house, I made a temporary and improvised desk from a hollow core door.   It quickly caved under the weight of my printer. 

It seems that the improved  technology allows for skins made from cardboard with a very thin veneer.  The honeycomb was placed loosely in the cavities.  The premiere was just 1” wide. 

I don’t think I have a case with Lowes. 

It is just another instance of improved process yielding substandard products. 

Plywood is, I guess, not suited as a countertop material. I will have to seek out materials that are designed for counter top use. 

Of course the question becomes:  What is plywood suitable for?  At this time, I am no longer sure.  I built two cabinets that straddle a window.  Will they delaminate.  They are painted, so I am hopeful.  Hopeful, but not sure.

Offline jeffinsgf

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Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2023, 06:49 PM »
What sets off an alarm for me is a finish that includes 50% mineral spirits. That sounds like a very, very high concentration of solvent. I don't think pre-packaged Minwax wipe on poly is anywhere close to that mixture ratio.

Offline Vtshopdog

  • Posts: 222
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2023, 07:11 PM »
I see more cracks in line with the lamp base in front of the window and elsewhere in the sheet - is this the case?  To my eye it’s possible you are seeing only the beginning of your troubles.

Appears all the cracks are evenly spaced and in line with the wood grain. Wild guess but possibly the veneer is rotary cut from a log and the cracks are remnants of successive growth rings or some defect in the log??  Can you see anything matching this spacing pattern in the veneer at equivalent of the “end grain” on one of your scrap pieces?

Big box plywood suppliers are likely under pretty severe price pressure these days and cutting veneer from lower grade logs might help them hit the price point their buyers want.

FWW- I’ve done tons of diluted minwax finishes on sheet goods with no issues. Also doubt Lowes will do anything beyond replace your sheet or refund.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2023, 08:59 PM »
Do we think the photos are sufficient evidence to present my case?  They are not going to my house to examine it.

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 533
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2023, 08:15 AM »
Shellac diluted 50% with DNA is a very standard formulation for initial coats of finish and I have used this for decades on solid and plywood with good results and no issues.  Plywood that won't tolerate standard finishing techniques is defective.  I suspect the cause of this surface failure is a combination of too thin a face veneer and substandard bonding.  It's worth taking a look at remnants of the material if you have them to see if the show face veneer and the other side veneer are of consistent thickness providing balanced movement with humidity changes. 

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2023, 09:54 AM »
Shellac diluted 50% with DNA is a very standard formulation for initial coats of finish and I have used this for decades on solid and plywood with good results and no issues.  Plywood that won't tolerate standard finishing techniques is defective.  I suspect the cause of this surface failure is a combination of too thin a face veneer and substandard bonding.  It's worth taking a look at remnants of the material if you have them to see if the show face veneer and the other side veneer are of consistent thickness providing balanced movement with humidity changes.

Thanks.  I have roughly 1/2 sheet left (unfinished) and I will check it out.  The unfinished shows no sign of delamination.

I think today (Presidents’ Day) would not be a good time to present this issue to Lowes.  I will stop in on Tuesday.

Offline woodferret

  • Posts: 435
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2023, 11:27 AM »
This whole solvent issue.... gotta ask, was the maple ply Purebond (tm)?  :P

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 10737
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2023, 11:33 AM »
Ouch...that hurts, it looks like the entire surface is lifting, it's just looks worse at the edge.

I'd consider sanding, prepping and finishing some of the ply you have left, in EXACTLY the manner in which you finshed the counter top and it that lifts, I'd bring that sample along with the photos to Lowes for their inspection.

They may just choose to go back to their supplier and ask some questions once they have a defective sample in their hands.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2023, 01:16 PM »
Ouch...that hurts, it looks like the entire surface is lifting, it's just looks worse at the edge.

I'd consider sanding, prepping and finishing some of the ply you have left, in EXACTLY the manner in which you finshed the counter top and it that lifts, I'd bring that sample along with the photos to Lowes for their inspection.

They may just choose to go back to their supplier and ask some questions once they have a defective sample in their hands.

That’s a thought, though it did not start to delaminate right away.  I can certainly do that though.

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 10737
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2023, 01:30 PM »
That’s a thought, though it did not start to delaminate right away.  I can certainly do that though.

Well you're really not under a time constraint so if it takes a month or so does it make any difference? It's not like the clock is running. [smile]  Tough to argue with a guy that shows up with bad product in his hand.

Offline Packard

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Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2023, 03:26 PM »
I will make up a sample starting this afternoon.  I can only apply 2 - 3 coats per day, so about 3 days’ work.  Then I will leave it on the counter for the same sun exposure.  I will keep you all advised.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2023, 03:28 PM by Packard »

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 10737
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2023, 03:55 PM »
The alternative is to cut up what you have that's damaged but you wanted to use that as a pattern.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 2429
Re: Delaminating veneer on plywood
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2023, 04:12 PM »
Yeah.  I’m not cutting it up until I transfer it to a new countertop.  I don’t keep track of hours I put into a job, but the template was the larger portion of the work.

I am a big believer in avoiding measuring tools.  So templates, story sticks and direct transfer of dimensions are all favored. 

A recent large format tile (24” x 24”) tub surround had several templates, especially for the hole locations of the plumbing.  I know that others simply measure and transfer, but that has never worked out well for me. 
« Last Edit: February 20, 2023, 04:15 PM by Packard »

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.