For set construction, there are numerous alternatives that can be used in combination to replace lauan.

Reused Set Materials
Perhaps the best way to limit the use of lauan is to reuse set components as much as possible. Sets can be built to facilitate reuse and then deconstructed and stored.

Made from post-consumer recycled newsprint cast into panels with a honeycomb core, Sonoboard is a structural panel with a smooth, paintable surface. However, this panel won’t hold screws well.

Production of Sonoboard has recently been discontinued but Sonoco has plenty of sheets in stock. For direct wholesale purchase, Sonoco can be reached at 800/377-2692.

In the New York City area, Sonoboard is available at:
Bettencourt Woods, 718/218-6737, <

A panel product made from 100% post-consumer recycled newsprint, Homasote works well for many uses. Homasote can be used for walls and many other set elements. "No other fiberboard is manufactured like Homasote, nor does any other board match its physical properties. The result is a weather-resistant, structural, insulating, extremely durable board with two to three times the strength of typical light-density wood fiberboards."

Homasote is available at many lumber yards and distributors throughout the U.S.

To find a Homasote dealer in your area, click here.

For direct wholesale purchase, contact Homasote at

Strawboard and other Agricultural Residue Panels
Made from agricultural residue materials compressed with non-formaldehyde glues, these panels make an excellent replacement for plywood sheets 3/8" and thicker and can be used much the same way as medium density fiberboard.

Agricultural residue ("ag-res") boards can be made from wheat straw, rice straw or even sunflower seed husks.

Companies selling ag-res boards include the following:

Environ Biocomposites.
Environ carries numerous types of ag-res boards including wheat board a sheets made from sunflower seed husks (Dakota Burl™).

For direct wholesale purchase
Environ Biocomposites
221 Mohr Drive
Mankato, MN 56001
507/388-3434 • 800/324-8187
FAX (507)388-3159

In the New York area, Environ is available at:
Bettencourt Woods, 718/218-6737, <

Cariboard is a board made from "agricultural waste fibers embedded into resin to form particle board (PB), oriented strand board (OSB), medium density fiber board (MDF) or high density fiberboard (HDF)."

1760 Fortin Blvd.
Laval, Quebec
Canada, H7S 1N8
Tel: (450) 667-4700
Fax: (450) 663-1520

Made from wood sawdust, chips or pulp combined with resin and wax under pressure, hardboard is a stiff and durable panel material with an extremely smooth surface. Costing a bit more than plywood, hardboard can be painted and will hold screws.

Hardboard (Weyerhauser and Masonite™ brands) is available at home improvement stores and lumber yards throughout the U.S.

High-density Fiberboard
Made from compressed wood chips and glue, HDF is not the best alternative, since it also usually contains formaldehyde.

Temperate Hardwood Plywood
This product is nearly identical to lauan and can be used to replace lauan in all its uses. Made from beech, birch or maple, the forests from which temperate plywoods are made in Canada, the U.S. and Scandinavia are much less endangered than tropical forests and this product is more likely to be from old plantations. Independently certified sources are available. The cost of temperate hardwood plywood is a bit higher than the tropical plywood being ‘dumped’ on the world market as tropical forests are liquidated and often illegally logged with underpaid and even forced labor.

Temperate hardwood plywood is available at any home improvement store or lumber retailer as birch, maple or oak plywood.