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We have a curved wall framed with steel studs 16"o.c. that will be finished with hardwood planks (running vertically on the wall).

For the hardwoods substrate, they recommended plywood and normal plywood does not conform to the curve. Our lumber supplier suggested snakeply (wiggle wood, a.k.a flexible plywood) which conforms to the wall easily, but it is still very soft in between the studs.

Is there a way to stiffen up the snakeply?

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3 Answers 3

Laminating a second layer of the same product should stiffen it substantially. Once the first layer is positioned the way you want, spread several beads of construction adhesive across the face of it and conform a second layer over the first. Tack in place with brads using a nailgun to hold it in place until the adhesive sets.

Note: These flexible plywoods come in a variety of thicknesses. It is likely that the thicker ones will be somewhat stiffer than the thin ones. I realize that even the thick ones may not be rigid enough for your application.

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Have you tried a really thin ply, such as Luaun? 16" is a pretty tight radius but Luan should handle it. You'd want to use 2 or 3 layers glueing them together as you apply them to make a nice rigid curved corner.

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I have done so with 1/4" luan, for a tighter radius, (8-16"), cut the plywood across the short side. The 4 ft. rips will bend much more readily than ripped the 8 ft. way. This is a much cheaper way and in my opinion, the curve created by the luan is a better quality bend, and easier to gauge than the bending (wavy)ply which I have used too, it dips readily between spans, unless it is built up in layers, which may complicate other aspects of your job. 2 layers of luan, bonded together with construction adhesive will provide a good backer to create your curved wall. Lap the next layer over the breaks of the first, this will help smooth out the ends at the first layer, which always has a flat spot at the last span at the ends. Use the same glue for the paneling too.

Another question, if the studs are at 16" centers, it suggests it is a big radius, maybe 4 ft.? Typically a framed radius wall is done with a much tighter spacing, most of the time 8" apart. If the radius of the wall is really tight (1 or 2ft for example) a 6" spacing is not unusual.

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