Which Plywood is Right for Your Job?

Monday, 10 January 2022  |  Admin

Which Plywood is Right for Your Job?

There are many different types of plywood, which can make choosing the right one for your job a little daunting. Here, we explain what types of plywood are available and which are best suited for certain jobs. 
 
Plywood is a highly versatile sheet material which is available in a wide range of grades and thicknesses to suit a multitude of applications. It is made using fine veneers (sheets) of timber pressed and glued together, often laid in opposing directions, for extra durability and stability. Sheet materials like plywood are produced in much larger sheets, up to 3050mm x 1525mm (10’ x 5’) than solid timber products, making them a more cost-effective and convenient alternative to solid timber. 
 
 
Softwood Plywood
 
Often referred to as “shuttering ply” or “good one side ply”, plywood is made from Pine veneers, giving it a pale-yellow colour. It usually has one clean face and the reverse can have some knots or filler. It’s used widely in the construction industry where a structurally sound panel is required but when the aesthetic is not important. It’s usually constructed with a class 2 or 3 glue making it suitable for applications that are likely to be exposed to moisture or damp environments. 
 
Its uses include:
Shed floors, walls and roofs (where it will be felted over the top)
Ceiling pattresses
Boarding out lofts
Lining garages
Packaging
 
 
Hardwood Plywood
 
Hardwood Plywood is the most commonly used grade of Plywood in the UK. With two clean faces, its uses are almost unlimited. Structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing on both faces, this sheet material is a great choice for joinery work where both sides will be visible. Made from hardwood veneers, it has a pale red/brown colour that will take a paint or stain well. Its stable hardwood core makes it an excellent choice as a subfloor for laminate or real wood flooring. As with softwood Ply, it is usually produced with a class 2 or 3 glue line making it suitable for damp and humid conditions, or even outdoor use if properly sealed and protected. 
 
Its uses include:
Internal and external joinery
Subfloor for laminate and wood flooring
Cabinet making  
Stud partitions
Lining walls
Sign making
Shed building
 
 
Lightweight Efficiency Poplar Plywood
 
A specialist sheet material that has been developed for jobs that require a lighter-weight solution, Poplar is less dense than most other hardwoods, yet still has many of the stability and rigidity properties of tropical hardwood plywood. This makes it an excellent choice where a lightweight, stable panel is required, such as motorhome/campervans, caravans and internal boat construction. Made in Europe, manufacturer quality control is extremely high, resulting in a panel which has specialist properties and an aesthetically pleasing appearance - a clean, cream/ivory colour - with very few face defects. It can be used in its manufactured form and simply varnished, stained or oiled, or it can be over-veneered with more decorative wood veneers or laminates. Constructed with a class 1 glue, these products are only suitable for internal applications. 
 
Its uses include:
Motorhome/campervan conversions
Boat construction
Cabinet making
Internal joinery
 
 
Marine Plywood
 
As the name suggests, Marine Plywood performs well in damp and wet environments.  Gaps in standard plywood can create entry points for water that can damage the internal veneers of the board, which is the most common cause of plywood failure in softwood and hardwood ply. However careful selection of the veneers in the manufacturing process of Marine Plywood eliminates core voids (gaps in the internal layers), making the sheets more uniform and much more resistant to moisture.  Produced using class 3 glue only, the combination of high-grade glue and the best hardwood veneers makes this a high-quality panel with excellent durability. Properly treated it can be used in marine and external environments. It is highly stable and has two clean faces, which takes a paint or stain well.
 
Its uses include:
Sign making
Boat and other vehicle manufacture
External joinery
Shed/summer house construction
Subfloors for shower trays
 
 
Dura-Ply
 
For the most demanding environments, where durability and weather resistance are paramount, Dura-Ply is fast replacing Marine ply in popularity due to its exceptional performance and eco-friendly credentials.  Made from highly sustainable, plantation grown, lightweight Poplar veneers - which take a fraction of the time to mature compared to the tropical hardwood used in Marine ply manufacture - Dura-ply a great alternative for those looking for a hard-wearing, environmentally friendly solution. Thanks to an innovative treatment process the panel is immune to fungal and insect attack, and the manufacturers are so confident in its performance they give it a 15 year guarantee. Its Poplar construction gives it similar lightweight properties to Efficiency plywood making it much easier to handle when used for sign-making, especially when the signs are being installed at height.
 
Its uses include:
Sandwich panels
Advertising panels
Facades
Roof supports
Gardening
Parks/recreational areas
Street furniture
 
 
Birch Plywood
 
For the highest quality projects, Birch plywood is the ‘go-to’ panel. Manufactured primarily in Latvia and Russia, tight quality control measures ensure the best quality product. Uniform veneer thickness, no overlapping veneers, and laying of the veneers in opposing directions results in a highly stable, flat panel. The opposing directions of the veneers and matching veneer thickness gives a decorative edge to the panel meaning it can be left exposed, in fact it is often specified that the edge is left exposed as the appearance is so pleasing to the eye. These features and its soft ivory colour and decorative graining, make it a popular choice for decorative joinery and cabinet making. Its highly stable core makes it an excellent choice for over veneering or bonding laminate to. The use of class 3 glue makes it suitable for external applications as well as internal. 
 
Its uses include:
High quality internal & external joinery
Sign making
Furniture manufacture
Shopfitting
Toy manufacture
 
 
Whatever the project, whether it’s durability, a lighter weight or a decorative surface you’re looking for, there’s a plywood that’s up to the job. Why not challenge us with your next project, and remember we can cut all of our plywood products to your specification, saving you time and ensuring a perfect cut and finish, every time.
 
If you are unsure about which type of plywood to get, please contact us for advice