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Know the Different Types of Plywood & Their Uses

Plywood 101: Know the Different Types of Plywood & Their Uses

Plywood is a wood-based panel product made by gluing together thin layers of wood veneer, or plies, with the grain of adjacent layers running perpendicular to each other. This cross-grain construction gives plywood strength, stability, and durability. While it may have a slightly higher price tag than other wood-based products, its unique characteristics make it a popular choice for a variety of applications, including within the construction industry. There are many different types of plywood available, each with unique properties and best-suited applications. Here’s everything you need to know about plywood, its different types, and its uses.

Introduction to Plywood

Plywood is a versatile wood-based product that is often chosen for its strength, durability, and natural wood appearance. The origins of plywood can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was used to make furniture, caskets, and even boats. However, the modern version of plywood that we know today was first patented in the United States in 1865 by John K. Mayo, who used it to make boxes, doors, and furniture. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, plywood became increasingly popular for a wide range of applications. Today, plywood is used for construction, furniture making, cabinetry, and more. Its strength and versatility make it a popular choice for many different projects. In addition, advances in manufacturing technology have led to the development of new types of plywood that are even stronger, more durable, and more environmentally friendly than ever before.

 

Plywood Construction Process

Plywood is constructed by layering thin sheets of wood veneer, called plies or lamina, at right angles to each other and bonding them together using a strong adhesive. The number of layers and the thickness of the plies used can vary depending on the desired strength, flexibility, and weight of the finished product. The orientation of the layers, or the direction of the wood grain, is an important factor in determining the strength and durability of the final product. In cross-laminated plywood, each layer is oriented so that the grain runs perpendicular to the grain of the previous layer. Cross-laminated plywood is often used in construction and structural applications where strength and stability are critical. The quality of the adhesive used to bond the layers of veneer together is also critical in determining the strength and durability of the final product.

Types of Plywood

Here are some of the most common types of plywood.

Softwood Plywood

Made from softwood trees such as pine or cedar, this type of plywood is relatively inexpensive and lightweight, making it ideal for construction and DIY projects.

Hardwood Plywood

Made from hardwood trees such as birch or oak, this type of plywood is strong, durable, and attractive. It’s often used in furniture, cabinetry, and decorative woodworking.

Exterior Plywood

Exterior plywood is made with waterproof glue and is designed to withstand exposure to the elements. It’s often used in construction projects such as roofing, siding, and outdoor furniture.

Structural Plywood

This type of plywood is designed for use in load-bearing applications such as flooring, roofing, and walls. It’s typically made with a thicker veneer and is graded for strength and stiffness.

Marine Plywood

Designed specifically for use in wet or humid environments, marine plywood is made with waterproof glue and high-quality hardwood veneers. It’s commonly used in boat building, docks, and other outdoor applications.

Fire-Retardant Plywood

Treated with fire-resistant chemicals, this type of plywood is designed to slow or prevent the spread of flames in the event of a fire. It’s commonly used in commercial buildings, schools, and other public spaces.

Decorative Plywood

Featuring attractive veneers such as oak, maple, or cherry, decorative plywood is ideal for use in furniture, cabinetry, and other decorative woodworking projects.

Grades of Plywood

Plywood is graded based on the quality of the wood plies or veneers used in its construction. The grading system can vary depending on the country and region, but here are some common grades of plywood used in the United States:

Grade A

This is the highest quality plywood grade, with no visible defects on the face and back veneers. It’s often used in high-end furniture and cabinetry.

Grade B

This grade has some visible defects, such as knots or patches, but they are small and infrequent. It’s often used in construction projects where appearance is not the primary concern.

Grade C

This grade has visible defects, such as larger knots or splits, but they are typically filled and sanded before finishing. It’s often used in construction and DIY projects where appearance is not a significant concern.

Grade D

This grade has visible defects and is not sanded or filled. It’s often used as a sheathing material for roofs and walls where it won’t be visible.

CDX

This is a common construction-grade plywood that has a C grade on one side and a D grade on the other. It’s often used in residential and commercial construction projects as a sheathing material for walls and roofs.

Marine-Grade

This type of plywood is made with waterproof glue and high-quality hardwood veneers. It’s often used in boat building and other outdoor applications.

Plywood Applications

Here are some common plywood applications across the construction industry:

Roofing

Plywood is often used as a substrate for roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, metal roofing, and clay tiles. The strength and durability of roofing plywood make it ideal for withstanding the weight of roofing materials and extreme weather conditions.

Flooring

Plywood is commonly used as a subfloor for various types of flooring, including hardwood, laminate, and carpet. Its strength and stability help to prevent the flooring from warping or buckling over time.

Sheathing

Plywood is often used as a sheathing material for walls, roofs, and floors. It provides added strength and rigidity to the structure and helps to distribute loads evenly across a building frame.

Wall Paneling

Plywood can be used to create interior wall paneling for a variety of applications. For example, it is often used in commercial and industrial buildings to provide a durable and easy-to-clean surface.

Exterior Siding

Plywood can be used as an exterior siding material to provide a durable and attractive finish to a building. It can be stained, painted, or covered with a veneer to create a variety of styles and textures.

Concrete Forms

Plywood is commonly used as a formwork material for poured concrete structures such as foundations, walls, and slabs. Its strength and smooth surface provide a sturdy and level surface for the concrete to be poured onto.

Plywood Inventory with Forming America

Buy used plywood at Forming America for use with concrete forming equipment. Visit us online to view concrete forming, shoring, and scaffolding equipment and tools from an efficient and trusted supplier.

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