I. Plywood Buying Guide
What exactly is plywood?
Hardwood plywood (often simply referred to as ‘plywood’) is a type of wood that is actually manmade – so technically it is not actually a natural wood, but rather is an engineered wood product.
Plywood is made by sticking three or more boards (veneers) of wood together with some sort of adhesive. The explanation does not need to be much more complicated than that.
However, it is important to know the differences between types of plywood, so that you can make a more informed choice when purchasing furniture, building materials or other plywood products.
A. Types of Ply
Source: Workshop Supply
The term “ply,” as it refers to plywood , means the layers manufacturers use to create the boards at various thicknesses. Some projects won’t need a thick board, while others will. Ply achieves the right depth and can also make the boards stronger.
The thickness of the plywood (how many sheets are glued together) is known as the plywood grade. Each layer is known as a wood veneer. A veneer is a thin sheet of wood that you can glue together to create a different number of plies. Plywood, then, is the finished product when the manufacturer glues the veneers together.
It’s important to note, though, that veneers can also have various thicknesses. Depending on your location, some parts of the home must meet specific standards for the number of plies required for a board of a certain depth, especially with external walls and roofing.
3-ply is one of the most common types of plywood. This kind has three layers of veneer and is layered enough to be strong and durable but can look more decorative than plywood with more plies, making it a good choice for indoor use.
5-ply pieces of wood have five layers of veneers. This is another common type of plywood used for projects that require less durability and strength than those needed for exterior use.
Multi-ply plywood is mostly for exterior use and roofing. It can comprise several veneers, usually seven or more, to create an incredibly strong, unyielding frame for a home that can stand up to wind and damage.
B. Types of Plywood
The various types of plywood you’ll find in the hardware store can make your shopping trip seem overwhelming but understanding how they differ is the key to deciphering what the best kind is for your project.