Types of Plywood Explained : Grades, Materials, and More

    Types of Plywood

    Plywood is one of the most popular types of manufactured wood. Plywood boards come in various types and grades based on physical properties and appearance. In this article, we talk about the types of plywood.

    Why Should You Know About Plywood Types?

    When choosing plywood for a project, it is crucial to know about the different types of plywood to figure out the best choice for the project. For instance, you may need a thin plywood for one task and a thicker one for another task. If you are building for exterior or bathrooms, you may want to go with a plywood type that is water-resistant. For regular interior projects, you can use basic commercial-grade plywood.

    Introduction to Plywood

    Plywood refers to an engineered wood board or panel that is made by combining wood veneers (thin layers of solid wood) using glue and high pressure to form a solid board.

    Plywood is known to be strong and somewhere durable. It is favoured as a less expensive and readily available alternative to solid wood. The applications of plywood are practically infinite, as it can be used in construction, internal woodwork, exterior projects, and marine applications.

    Whether you’re a woodworker or a customer, It is crucial to know about the different plywood types to choose the right one for your project.

    Since plywood contains only two materials – wood veneers and glue – the quality of a plywood sheet will depend on the quality of both veneers and glue and the quality of their bond. Higher-grade plywood contains higher-quality veneers (hardwood) and waterproof glue which are combined under specific pressure and heat conditions to achieve the desired quality.

    Types of Plywood by the Number of Plies

    Plies or veneers are thin layers of wood which are combined to make a plywood sheet. Depending on the number of plies used, plywood can be of the following types:

    1. 3-ply – contains 3 layers of ply. Thickness ranges between 3, 4, 5, 6 mm.

    2. 5-ply – contains 5 plies in a panel. Thickness ranges between 10 – 40 mm.

    3. Multi-ply – contains 7 or more ply per plywood sheet. Thickness ranges between 6-18 mm.

    Types of Plywood by Grades (UK Standard)

    Based on the quality and intended use of plywood, they are graded as follows:

    • Class 1 – Strictly internal
    • Class 2 – Interior grade of humid conditions but must be sealed
    • Class 3 – Exterior grade but must be sealed
    • BS1088 – Marine

    Class 1

    This is the most inferior grade of plywood and is made for strictly internal use or dry applications where the board will rarely come near any water source or moisture. Examples of uses include interior furniture, cabinetry, etc.

    Class 2

    A better quality plywood that is designed to be used in interior applications but can withstand nominal humid conditions given that it is adequately sealed. Limited exterior use is also allowed.

    Class 3

    This is one of the best quality plywoods in terms of durability and moisture resistance. It is made exclusively for the exterior and can withstand high humidity conditions or exposure to moisture given that it is properly sealed.


    This type of plywood is made exclusively for marine applications, i.e. woodworking projects where the wood is expected to be in constant contact with water. This plywood is resistant to damage by moisture and water and can be used in applications such as boatbuilding, ship parts, decks, docks, bathrooms, and kitchens.

    Types of Plywood by Grades of Veneer

    There are four grades of veneer – A, B, C, and D – with A being the highest quality. Based on the type of veneer used in plywood, it can be of several types, such as:

    AB plywood – one face of the plywood has A-grade veneer and the other one has B-grade veneer.

    CDX plywood – one side is grade-C veneer and the other side is grade-D veneer. The word ‘X’ indicates that it’s exterior grade plywood.

    Other types include:

    • A-C plywood
    • ACX
    • BCX
    • CX

    Types of Plywood by the Material/Structure

    Plywood is made by using wood veneers and glue. Depending on the type or species of wood veneer, plywood can be of many types, such as hardwood plywood, softwood, birch plywood, pine plywood, and more.

    1. Softwood Plywood

    As the name suggests, this plywood is made up of softwood veneers. Examples of popular softwoods include pine, cedar, spruce, fir, and redwood.

    Softwoods are usually less strong and durable than hardwoods, yet softwood plywoods are sturdy and used in heavy construction applications including roof sheathing, subfloors, and exterior frame sheathing. They are also commonly used for making shelves, dog houses, and tool sheds.

    2. Hardwood Plywood

    In this type of plywood, hardwood veneers are used. Hardwoods are generally stronger and harder than softwoods, which is why they make for better plywood. These plywoods are mainly used in applications where durability is required such as sports equipment, furniture, and wood casings. It is made by combining up to seven layers of hardwood like walnut, oak, teak, maple, or birch with high-quality glue.

    3. Lumber Core Plywood

    This type of plywood is made by attaching one thick core of softwood with two thin hardwood veneers on both sides. The outer surfaces made of top hardwood species like oak or maple provide a strong and beautiful exterior while the inside core is soft enough to make the plywood easy to use, nail and screw.

    4. Overlaid Plywood

    It is constructed as regular plywood, by joining layers of veneers with waterproof glue, which is then overlaid with an additional coating or finish of waterproof materials to enhance its durability. The added layer improves both the appearance and durability of the plywood. This is a high-density plywood made under high heat and pressure conditions.

    5. Tropical Plywood

    This plywood is made out of tropical timber from Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. It is very strong, dense and beautiful.

    6. Flexible Plywood

    This type of plywood can be bent and folded. It is usually made up of 3 layers of cross-grained plies. It’s mainly used in furniture making and the construction of curved frames.

    7. Veneer Core Plywood

    This one has odd-numbered veneers in the core which are joined in a cross-grained pattern. This is the most versatile type of plywood which can take heavy loads, is soft enough for nailing and screwing, and is flexible to be bent for making curved objects.

    8. MDF Core Plywood

    As the name suggests, this type of plywood has a core made of MDF or medium-density fiberboard. Individual wood fibres are glued together to form the core, which is then covered with an additional wood veneer on both sides to form a strong, heavy and durable panel which is easy to work with.

    9. ApplePly

    ApplePly is a special type of plywood that is made by using a strong core made of birch and alder wood strips glued together, which is then laminated on both sides. It looks similar to regular softwood or hardwood plywood in terms of colour and grain but has more layers. It is lightweight and strong and generally easy to work with.

    Types of Plywood by Applications

    Shuttering Plywood

    One of the hardest and heaviest types of plywood that is made by joining nine or more layers of veneer. This is exclusively used for heavy-load applications like ceilings and bases for pillars. Both the front and back panels are protected with a smooth, high-quality coating. Shuttering plywood is also one of the most affordable plywood types because its core is made of softwood. It is mainly used in construction work.

    Marine Plywood

    This water-resistant plywood is mainly used in marine or water-based applications such as making decks, docks, boats, ships, etc. and in kitchens and other water-prone areas. It is made from hardwood veneers and top-quality waterproof glue called WBP (weather and boil-proof), which makes the plywood fully resistant to water and moisture. It’s a strong and durable plywood but also more expensive than other types.

    Aircraft Plywood

    Another higher-grade plywood which is made by combining very thin veneers of durable hardwoods such as birch and mahogany to form strong and lightweight boards. Aircraft plywood is resistant to moisture and is easy to work with. It is commonly used for making aircraft, boats, rafters, and furniture that can take heavy loads. It is also used in construction.

    Exterior Plywood

    This type of plywood is made for exterior use. It is made up of hardwood veneer and glued using water-resistant adhesive to ensure the plywood can withstand outdoor conditions. Exterior plywood is used for building wooden frames and furniture for outdoor use. High-quality exterior plywood may be resistant to mould and insects as well.

    Structural Plywood

    Also called sheathing plywood, this is mainly used in structural applications such as framing and construction. It is a highly durable plywood that uses the best-quality waterproof adhesives. It, however, cannot withstand harsh weather conditions. It is used in both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects.

    Construction Plywood

    Many types of composite wood panels are collectively called construction plywood because of their high durability and suitability for construction work. Structural plywood is an example.


    Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is a type of exterior sheathing plywood. It’s a re-engineered product that is much stronger than regular plywood. It is used for construction work like roofing and roof decking.

    Subfloor plywood

    It refers to plywood that is used as a subfloor or as a base for a floor. CDX plywood is the most common choice for this purpose. It has a C-grade veneer on one side and a D-grade veneer on the other side.

    Where to Buy High-Quality Plywood Online?

    Whether you are looking to buy plywood or solid wood, visit White Knight Consulting LTD for a wide range of high-quality, sustainable timber to choose from and get the best price guarantee with worldwide delivery. Contact us to get a quote.

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