What are the Different Kinds of Plywood?


Plywood is a versatile and widely used building material known for its strength, durability, and adaptability. Whether you’re working on a construction project, crafting furniture, or tackling a DIY endeavor, understanding the different kinds of plywood available is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, “Exploring Plywood Varieties: A Guide to Different Kinds of Plywood,” we’ll delve into various plywood types, their characteristics, and the ideal applications for each.

What are the different kinds of plywood?

Understanding Plywood

Plywood is engineered wood made by layering thin sheets of wood veneer, known as “plies,” and bonding them together with adhesive. The layers are stacked with the wood grain of adjacent plies at right angles to enhance strength and stability. The resulting panel is a versatile material that comes in various types, grades, and sizes.

Common Plywood Types

1. Structural Plywood

  • Description: Structural plywood is designed for strength and stability, making it ideal for load-bearing applications. It comes in various thicknesses and is often used in framing, subflooring, and roof sheathing.
  • Common Grades: CDX, BC, ACX

2. Exterior Plywood

  • Description: Exterior plywood is treated to withstand exposure to moisture and weather elements. It’s commonly used for outdoor projects, such as building decks, siding, and outdoor furniture.
  • Common Grades: BCX, CCX, CDX

3. Marine Plywood

  • Description: Marine plywood is specially designed to resist moisture, making it suitable for boat construction and other water-related applications. It has high-quality veneers and uses waterproof adhesives.
  • Common Grades: A-A, A-B

4. Hardwood Plywood

  • Description: Hardwood plywood is made from hardwood veneers and is known for its durability and aesthetic appeal. It’s often used in fine furniture making, cabinetry, and decorative paneling.
  • Common Grades: AA, AB, BB

5. Softwood Plywood

  • Description: Softwood plywood is made from softwood veneers like pine or fir. It’s used in construction and structural applications where appearance is less critical but strength is essential.
  • Common Grades: CDX, BC

6. Decorative Plywood

  • Description: Decorative plywood is designed for aesthetics and is available in various finishes, including veneer, melamine, or laminate. It’s used in furniture making, interior decor, and cabinetry.
  • Common Grades: AA, AB, BB

7. Birch Plywood

  • Description: Birch plywood is known for its strength, fine grain, and light color. It’s often used in high-end furniture, cabinetry, and architectural millwork.
  • Common Grades: B/BB, BB/BB

8. MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard)

  • Description: While not technically plywood, MDF is a composite wood product made from wood fibers and resin. It’s smooth and uniform in texture, making it ideal for interior applications like shelving, cabinet doors, and furniture.

Long-Tail Queries Related to “Different Kinds of Plywood”

  1. What are the advantages of marine plywood over standard exterior plywood for outdoor projects?
    • Marine plywood offers superior moisture resistance and durability, making it ideal for applications exposed to water.
  2. Can you use hardwood plywood for structural applications like subflooring?
    • While hardwood plywood is durable, it is often used more for aesthetic purposes. Structural plywood is better suited for load-bearing applications.
  3. What is the primary difference between exterior plywood and marine plywood?
    • Marine plywood is designed for prolonged exposure to water and uses waterproof adhesives, whereas exterior plywood is more versatile but may not be as resistant to moisture.
  4. Is birch plywood a good choice for painting and finishing?
    • Yes, birch plywood’s fine grain and light color make it an excellent choice for painting and finishing projects.
  5. Can MDF be used for outdoor applications?
    • MDF should not be used for outdoor applications as it is not designed to withstand exposure to moisture and weather elements.


Q1. What’s the difference between structural plywood and exterior plywood?

Structural plywood is primarily used for load-bearing applications, while exterior plywood is treated to withstand outdoor exposure but may not be as strong as structural plywood.

Q2. Are there specific plywood types suitable for fine furniture making?

Yes, hardwood plywood and birch plywood are commonly used in fine furniture making due to their strength, durability, and aesthetic qualities.

Q3. Can you stain marine plywood for a natural wood look?

Yes, marine plywood can be stained for a natural wood look. However, it’s essential to use a stain and sealer suitable for marine applications to ensure durability.


The world of plywood is vast, with various types tailored to specific applications and requirements. Whether you’re constructing a sturdy frame, building outdoor structures, creating fine furniture, or enhancing interior decor, understanding the different kinds of plywood is essential for choosing the right material. By selecting the plywood type that best suits your project, you can ensure both structural integrity and aesthetic appeal, leading to successful and durable results.

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