There are many plywood uses: inside, outside and in water

by Oliver Gaywood –

There are lots of different plywood types available. The popularity of plywood can be attributed to its many benefits:

  • Increased stability over standard wood, meaning it stays true through temperature and moisture changes
  • High impact resistance helps with short-term overloads
  • Incredible strength to weight ratio
  • Highly resistant to chemicals and can, depending on the type, be very moisture resistant
  1. What is plywood?
  2. The benefits of plywood
  3. Types of plywood
  4. Plywood uses

Plywood is one of the most common [building material types] used in Australia. Depending on how it’s made, it can be be used for decorative purposes or for structural reasons. 

As well as its strength and appearance, another benefit is its low cost. If you’re worried about the cost to a new build, plywood can help keep your budget in check.

What is plywood?

Plywood is a manufactured board that’s made up of thin sheets of wood – called plies or veneers – that are glued together under heat and pressure. Each board is made from an odd number of plies so that the top and bottom sheet have the grain facing the same way. 

Plywood is strong in all directions whereas standard wood is only strong across the grain. This strength comes from the way it’s made. Each sheet of wood has the grain going lengthways on one layer and crossways on the next and so on.  

The more plies you have, the stronger the board. So a 13-ply board is a lot stronger than a 3-ply board. 

Plywood can be made from softwood or hardwood, depending on its intended use. 

Plywood is available in different grades, with A being the highest grade and D being the lowest. If the plywood is designed to be seen, it will have an A grade front face and a D grade back face. Plywoods that are not going to be seen usually use lower grades, such as a C grade front and a D grade back.

Plywood is manufactured to be strong

The benefits of plywood

As you’ll see later, there are lots of different plywood types available. The popularity of plywood can be attributed to its many benefits:

  • Increased stability over standard wood, meaning it stays true through temperature and moisture changes
  • High impact resistance helps with short-term overloads
  • Incredible strength to weight ratio
  • Highly resistant to chemicals and can, depending on the type, be very moisture resistant

Types of plywood

There are several different types of plywood available for construction work. These are commonly broken down into four categories:

  • Exterior
  • Interior
  • Marine
  • Structural

Exterior plywood

Exterior plywood is a high-quality option for use outside the house, whether fully- or semi-exposed. Because this plywood is out in the open, it’s important that you look at [wood adhesives] that are moisture-resistant.

When used outside, it’s recommended that you treat the plywood to prevent UV damage.  

Interior plywood

Interior plywood, which can be made from both hardwood and softwood, is used inside your home. Plywood interior wall lining is one of the most common uses, but you may also find plywood used for furniture, in ceilings and on doors. 

Marine plywood

Marine plywood is made to the highest standard because it needs to be incredibly resistant to water. Like with exterior plywood, care with picking wood glues is strongly advised. 

Structural plywood

Structural plywood is the strongest of the plywoods and, unlike interior plywood, it’s the strength not the appearance that is of most importance. 

Plywood uses

Plywood can be bought for many purposes, including flooring, wall panels, bracing, furniture, cabinetry, formwork and more.

Each type of plywood has its benefits in different areas. Some of the most common uses of plywood are as below. 

Exterior plywood:

  • Fences
  • Sheds
  • Walls

Internal plywood:

  • Furniture
  • Ceilings
  • Cladding

Marine plywood:

  • Boats
  • Docks
  • Pontoons

Structural plywood:

  • Beams
  • Roof bracing
  • Wall bracing

However, with such a strong and versatile product, it’s easy to think up different ways to implement it in your construction project.

You might also like: Types of building materials used in construction projects in 2020Using recycled building materials in your building project

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