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Old 04-06-2010, 10:35 AM   #1
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Using Luan

Something I found in using this product that might help others in the future. I decided to use luan for all my walls and some of the cabinetry. I started with buying several sheets. As my interior progressed, I bought more luan. I decided, after a little experimenting with stains, to leave the wood finish for the interior.
What I found was Luan woodgrain pattern changes from bundle to bundle. The first that I bought had a beautiful wood grain to it. The next purchace was much darker and stained differently than the previous batch. I went through an entire stack to find some lighter pieces, to no avail. The third time was again, a different tone and grain.
In retrospect, If I would have bought all I needed from the same stack, all the tone and grain would have matched. As it is, I have kind of a patchwork look in a couple areas of the bus. It really does not look that bad, but I will wallpaper a few areas that I had not planned to do.

One other phenomenon I have found is with 2x2's. I bought several bundles of 2x2's and started building walls and cabinets. After several months (through the summer) when I went to cover (with luan) I found that a lot of the wet 2x2's that were framed in straight, had dried and twisted. Again in retrospect, I would break the bundles at the store and pick the straight dry ones. Or, beak the bundles at home and let them dry for a couple weeks, then just take the twisties back for a refund. I did rip quite a few 2x4's down with good results in maintaining straightness.

Hope this helps some in the future.
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:26 PM   #2
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Re: Using Luan

I also bought some luan and plan to use it for the same things as you. How was it to cut? Did it splinter? What sort of saw/blade did you use, and did you do anything special when cutting?
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:10 PM   #3
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Re: Using Luan

Luan changes a great deal from one pallet to another. If you plan on staining it, use "wood conditioner" just like you would on pine. While luan is a member of the mahogany family, it stains poorly (blotchy). I have seen some beautifully stained luan and I have seen some that should never see the light of day. If painting, use a good stain blocking primer.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:53 PM   #4
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Re: Using Luan

Just thought I'd follow up... I was too impatient last night to wait for an opportunity to go to Home Depot to get the plywood blade for my saw and wanted to get going on some finish work on my stairwell. So I just used the standard framing blade I have in my circular saw. I cut from the back, but neither side of the luan splintered.

That being said, I have seen some splintering of the cheap 1/2" plywood I've been using. But I've not been concerned because it will all get covered.
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:07 PM   #5
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Re: Using Luan

You can reduce the splintering on luan by using masking tape on the cut lines. If you have a strong wrist and a nice new blade you can cut luan with a utility knife. Lay a square or something down as a guide and make repetitive slices until you get through.
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:14 PM   #6
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Re: Using Luan

Yes luan warps. It needs to be really well attached both in the centers and around the edges. I prefer the glue-&-screw method. Glue the panels down with a good panel adhesive (like PL brand or Liguid Nails) and either nail or screw the panels down just like you would plywood. You should have nailers every 24" or 16" (on center). If you screw it, be careful as a screw will pull right thru the luan plywood. Luan must be primed (any plywood needs to be primed) or the paint will turn out blotchy. You will need at least 1 coat primer and at least 2 coats paint. Luan would be a good choice if you plan on it being a temporary wall covering. By that I mean, you want to put beadboard on the walls but right now you can't afford to. So you could put up luan, paint it and later go over it with beadboard (panel adhesive and use tiny nail brads) when you have the $$. Primed luan also makes a good base for wallpaper.

Take a good look at those low priced interior flat slab luan doors. You see them painted all the time. They are just luan plywood on a wood frame.
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