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Guide to Buying Plywood

The Ultimate Plywood Buying Guide - Types, Grades & Uses

When it comes to woodworking projects or construction, plywood is an incredibly versatile and widely used material. It offers strength, durability, and a smooth surface for various applications.

However, with different types, grades, and uses, choosing the right plywood can be a daunting task. In this ultimate guide, we will explore the world of plywood, discussing its types, grades, and various applications to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

Types of Plywood

3-Ply Plywood

3-ply plywood, also known as single-core plywood, consists of three layers of wood veneers bonded together. The core veneer is sandwiched between two face veneers, providing stability and strength. This type of plywood is commonly used for interior applications, including furniture, cabinetry, and decorative panels.

5-Ply Plywood

5-ply plywood, also referred to as multi-ply plywood, is made up of five layers of wood veneers. It offers increased stability and strength compared to 3-ply plywood. 5-ply plywood is suitable for a wide range of applications, including flooring, shelving, and structural purposes.

Multi-Ply Plywood

Multi-ply plywood consists of more than five layers of wood veneers, typically arranged in an odd number. This type of plywood offers superior strength, making it ideal for heavy-duty applications such as load-bearing structures, concrete formwork, and marine construction.

Types of Plywood by Wood Species

Softwood Plywood

Softwood plywood is manufactured from coniferous trees such as pine, fir, or spruce. It is generally more affordable and lighter than hardwood plywood. Softwood plywood finds applications in sheathing, roofing, subfloors, and other construction projects.

Hardwood Plywood

Hardwood plywood is made from deciduous trees like oak, birch, or maple. It possesses enhanced strength and durability compared to softwood plywood. Hardwood plywood is commonly used in furniture manufacturing, cabinetry, flooring, and decorative projects.

Veneered Plywood

Veneered plywood features a thin layer of high-quality wood veneer on the face, providing an attractive appearance. The core layers are typically made of lower-grade plywood or other engineered materials. Veneered plywood is popular in furniture making, interior panelling, and architectural applications.

Birch Plywood

Birch plywood is a type of hardwood plywood known for its light colour and smooth surface. It offers excellent strength and stability, making it suitable for a wide range of applications, including cabinets, drawers, toys, and laser cutting.

Plywood Grades

Plywood is graded based on its quality, appearance, and intended use. Here are the common plywood grades you may come across:


A-Grade plywood has a smooth, knot-free surface with minimal defects. It is suitable for applications where the appearance of the plywood is essential, such as cabinetry, furniture, and architectural elements.


B-Grade plywood may have slight surface defects and more visible knots. It is commonly used for construction projects, shelving, and other applications where appearance is not the primary concern.


C-Grade plywood has more noticeable defects, including knots and patches. It is often used for structural purposes where strength is more important than appearance, such as subfloors, roofs, and temporary construction.


D-Grade plywood features numerous defects and knots, making it suitable for applications where strength is the primary requirement, and appearance is irrelevant. It is commonly used for packing crates, sheathing, and other rough construction projects.

Uses of Plywood

Construction and Structural Applications

Plywood serves as an essential material in construction for applications like roofing, subflooring, wall sheathing, and concrete formwork due to its strength and durability.

Furniture and Cabinetry

Plywood is widely used in furniture manufacturing and cabinetry due to its stability, smooth surface, and ease of workability. It is ideal for crafting tables, chairs, cabinets, and shelves.

Interior Design and Decorative Projects

Plywood can be used to create visually appealing interiors through wall panelling, decorative ceilings, and custom-built furniture pieces. Its versatility allows for innovative designs and architectural elements.

Crafts, Hobbies, and DIY Projects

Plywood is a popular choice for various crafts, hobbies, and DIY projects, such as model making, scroll saw projects, toy making, laser cutting, and more.

When it comes to buying plywood, understanding the different types, grades, and applications is crucial for selecting the right material for your project. Whether you're embarking on a construction project, building furniture, or pursuing a creative endeavour, considering the specific needs and characteristics of each plywood type will ensure optimal results.

Remember to assess the intended use, wood species, and grade requirements to make an informed decision.

With this ultimate guide, you are now equipped to explore the world of plywood and embark on your next woodworking adventure with confidence.

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