October 6, 2019

Types of Plywood and their Uses

Plywood, also known as oriented strand board (OSB), is a type of wood product made from thin layers of wood veneers or wood strands, commonly oriented at right angles to each other. Like most wood products, plywood can be classified depending on its intended use. The layers of wood are glued together to form a rigid panel, and chipboard, particleboard, and oriented strand board are types of plywood. Plywood is durable, lightweight, easily finished, and easy to work with—and best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive.

Sanded Plywood

Sanded plywood is a structural panel with face and back plies that have smooth surfaces due to sanding. The sanding process takes place in the manufacturing process, and the panels have up to three layers of wood veneer. 

Each layer has more plies, and face pliers belong to B-grade according to the standards of the United States. The sanded wood is for structures based on appearance, and that is why it is called a structural product, and it and the and Pressure-treated gives strength and stiffness to the wood structures. 

Dimensional stability is what you get from the products. Sanded plywood gives impact resistance, fastening qualities, and workability features to the building. 

Man holding plywood floor panel

Hardwood Plywood

Hardwood plywood is tough plywood, and the face and back veneer is the opposite of softwood. The hardwood comes with a core from either softwood or hardwood and a hardwood finish. It is for furniture production, cabinetry, and decorative items. 

It adds stability and a wide range of grades and species. Amongst hardwood plywood are ash, birch, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, and walnut. It also makes built-in closets, kitchens, architectural applications, doors, toys, musical instruments, and sporting equipment. It comes with formaldehyde-free glue that is moisture resistant.

Veneer core plywood

Veneer Core plywood is a combination of center veneer and crossband veneers. These are layers found on both sides of the center, and these are supposed to reach the desired thickness that produces an odd number of veneers for the core. 

Veneer Core plywood comes with weight-bearing strength, and it gives bending strength and holds screws. It consists of inner plies that are softwood. Veneer Core panels are lighter than any core type. 

Veneer core is stable since it comes with better spanning. Multiple layers of hardwood bonded together make Veneer core plywood, and the layers have a grain direction called cross banding. It makes drawers and furniture. 

MDF core

MDF core stands for Medium Density Fiberboard Core, and it comes with uniform thickness and consistency of any panel core. The face and back veneer are glued directly to the MDF Core without using a crossband veneer. 

The consistency in thickness and flatness makes it ideal for 32mm construction. Economic plywood substitutes Veneer core plywood, and it has more consistency in thickness and smoothness than Veneer, which makes the surface even. 

It gives stability to structures and holds fasteners well. It makes cabinet doors due to its flatness and stability.

Lumber core plywood

Lumber core plywood is a lumber edge glued into a solid slab that makes import panels for construction. The panels are 18mm thick and have a face and back veneer. The crossband veneer has edge-glued lumber in the center. 

Lumber Core consists of edge-glued strips of basswood. The plywood is for bending strength and holding screws, making it strong enough to construct wide shelves in cabinets or closets. Amongst its properties are water resistance, stability, strength, and flatness.


ApplePly is high-quality plywood made from thin layers of birch with multiple types of veneers. The thicknesses range from 1⁄4” to 11⁄2”. It is for large-scale, high-end professional and industrial purposes, including retail displays, architectural interiors, etc.). 

It has gained popularity among professional artisans and hobbyists as it makes studio and contemporary furniture. What separates it from the rest is a beautiful edge, which is why furniture and architectural installation designs are beautiful. 

Exterior sheathing plywood

Exterior sheathing plywood is weather and water-resistant plywood. The wood has characteristics that handle wind, rain, and other weather elements. The wood gives a sturdy frame to products. 

When plywood sheets use glue, they last longer. It is ideal for harsh conditions and is as strong as oak since it resists mildew and mold from damp conditions. Exterior sheathing plywood is for building home walls, and you can use it to renovate your home. It comes in boards or panels made of different materials. 

Installing it over the home’s exterior walls gives structural support that helps insulate the home. Exterior sheathing comes as structural or non-structural, and the usage depends on the building. 

Structural sheathing strengthens walls, ties wall studs together, and increases the rigidity of the walls. It also insulates the home. Non-structural sheathing creates tight building envelopes, and it is applied either to the exterior or interior of structural sheathing.

Subfloor plywood

Subfloor plywood is for flooring buildings, and it gives better material than 3/4-inch tongue-and-groove plywood subflooring. The tongue-and-groove edges have an interlocking system that resists movement along the panel edges and creates a stiffer floor. 

It allows the quality installation of a plywood subfloor using glue to attach panels. The plywood panels make use of construction adhesive on floor joists. Screw the panels to the joists or use a ring shank to nail subflooring nails. 

Plywood subflooring also comes in 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch thicknesses. Carpet or resilient floorings, such as vinyl, use thinner subflooring. Thicker subflooring is for nail-down hardwood and floor tile.

Plywood Grades

Plywood is separated according to texture and quality. The qualities considered include smoothness, durability, and paint abilities. There are four grades of plywood that range from A to D. The characteristics include: gaping spaces around knots and cracks. A fifth grade is called “C-plugged,” but it is rare to find. Each sheet will have two grades, such as AC. The Plywood starts from the highest quality to the lowest, starting from A.  

“A” Grade represents sanded, smooth and paintable plywood. However, it is almost impossible to find plywood free of repairs and knots. “B” Grade is for solid surface and has tight knots, and it has minor splits. “C” Grade has tight knots to 1-1/2 in. and knotholes to 1 in., some splits and discoloration. “D” Grade represents knots and knotholes up to 2-1/2 inches, few splits, and no repairs. 

Plywood Alternatives

Although plywood is a better choice for homeowners for furnishing home interiors, several alternatives have affordable prices and a better appearance. 


Choose one option that suits your project. It is a cost-effective option, and it is way more affordable than MDF, and it is generally even less expensive than MDF. It is light and used for construction in large-scale projects, and what makes it a better option for flooring is the flatness, smoothness, and slickness.

Solid wood

It is sturdy and durable. It makes your final project last longer. Consider the color of your wood and the wood grain before you get one. They have to match. It gives you beautiful materials used in any construction. It adds value to the furniture.

Pressure-treated plywood

Pressure-treated plywood is wood processed using high pressure to inject a preservative into the wood.  The chemical is resistant to insects and moisture. Pressure-treated wood survives harsh conditions outdoors. 

The lumber comes as pine or cedar. The process involves saturating milled lumber with chemical preservatives. The chemicals reduce the vulnerability of the wood to insects and rot. The wood is left wet so that you coat the wood with paint. Pressure-treated wood is a time-sensitive project. 

When painted, pressure-treated wood gets rid of a greenish color that is not appealing to the eye. Paint gives it color and style. Chemicals make the wood fire retardant. Multiple pressure-treated kinds of wood are for different projects.

It is ideal for use on any wood item that stays in contact with the underground or water. These include marine buildings, outdoor furniture, and decorations.

David D. Hughes

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