OK, on Monday I wrote a post and detailed my plans for finding out what happens when a six inch by six inch sample of 3/4" veneer plywood and a six by six sample of laminated 165 lb. particle board get dumped in water and left for a few days.
The water immersion part of this test ended yesterday and before I get to what I've observed so far, let me state a couple of things. For starters, if your cabinetry ends up floating in water for a couple of days, how well it's going to hold up is the least of your problems. So the odds of immersion are slim at best. Secondly, this is not a scientific experiment by any means nor are the findings that follow some kind of a sweeping indictment or endorsement of these products' categories. All this test does do is test a hunch I had about these very specific samples. OK, with that out of the way, let's get to it.
On Sunday morning at 11:15, I dropped this sample
and this sample into two separate bowls filled with three liters of tap water.
It was 73 degrees and sunny on that fine morning and here's what the samples looked like when they first went into their watery graves.
So I went about my day and waited to see what would happen. I knew they'd be fine for the first couple of hours and sure enough they were. I fished out my samples and photographed them at 15 minute intervals for the first hour. Then I photographed them again at two hours, four hours, six hours and 12 hours. I won't bore you by showing you all of this but if you really want to see exactly what these samples looked like at any of those intervals, I'll gladly send you the images. OK, moving on.
On Monday morning, I fished them out and this is what I saw at the 24 hour mark.
Both samples were still pretty intact. The laminate on the particle board had started to to blister a little bit and its once smooth surface felt almost like an orange peel.
The plywood seemed to be faring better.
Though some of the veneer had begun to delaminate. Neither sample had warped.
At 48 hours things were a little changed but nothing really dramatic.
This is the plywood's edgebanded side. It's still pretty intact and hasn't warped.
This is the particle board's edgebanded side. The particle board's not faring as well as the plywood, but I expected that. It's still not warped but it's about a sixteenth of an inch fatter than it was 48 hours before.
From the side, the plywood looked like this. There's a little veneer delamination going on but for the most part it's still intact.
And this is the side of the particle board. Pretty much the entire surface now has that orange peel texture from the individual wood particles swelling.
At 72 hours I pulled the samples out of the water for the last time.
The particle board suffered the most.
This is the edge, fresh from the drink. The edge tape seems to have held the shelf together and the water got in through the seams along the upper and lower surfaces.
The side's pretty chewed up too. If you click on this photo it will expand and you can get a better feel for the orange peel texture this thing's adopting.
The plywood behaved a little better after 72 hours.
This is the edge of the plywood sample.
And here's its side. You can see some of the veneer bubbling along the left edge.
You can also see a seam where two pieces of veneer meet up. That's the line about 2/3 of the way up the sample.
All in all, this was nowhere near as dramatic as I expected it to be. And frankly, I thought the particle board would hold up better. The plywood's pretty unusable at this point too. I mean, any finished wood that's thrown in water for 72 hours will be toast. Despite that though, I expected both samples to be in far worse shape than they are. That's a good finding.
But we're not done yet. Each of these samples absorbed a fair amount of water over the course of this test and they are both drying out as I type this. As the absorbed water evaporates, the samples will start to shrink.
That my friends is phase two. What do you suppose will happen now? Once either of these engineered products endures a 72 hour flood, what do you think happens? Will either of them still be viable? The humidity's been pretty low so they'll dry out in a couple of days. I will photograph them one last time after they've dried. What wonders await I wonder wonder wonder?