Choosing the right plywood for your construction needs

Choosing the right plywood for your construction needs

4th Jun 2024

At Canterbury Timbers, selecting the appropriate construction plywood for your project is crucial to ensuring its durability and success. With various types available, each designed for specific applications, understanding the differences can help you make an informed decision. Whether you are working on structural plywood, exterior projects, or interior designs, knowing what to look for in construction plywood will help you achieve the best results.

What is construction plywood?

Construction plywood is a versatile building material made by gluing together thin layers of wood veneers, with the grain of each layer running perpendicular to the previous one. This cross-graining technique enhances the plywood's strength, stability, and resistance to warping.

Types of construction plywood

Understanding the different types of construction plywood will help you decide which to buy for your project. Each type has unique characteristics tailored for various applications, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. Understanding these types will give you the confidence to choose the right one for your project needs.

Structural plywood

Structural plywood is durable and designed for load-bearing applications, making it ideal for floors, walls, and roofing. It often adheres to specific standards to withstand significant stress and weight.

Exterior plywood

Often treated to resist moisture and weather conditions, exterior plywood is suitable for outdoor applications. It’s used primarily for exterior wall sheathing, sheds, and other structures exposed to the elements.

Interior plywood

Interior plywood is non-load-bearing, so its typical applications include inside buildings. It’s an excellent choice for furniture, cabinetry, indoor wall panelling, or other projects requiring no moisture resistance treatment.

Marine plywood

Marine plywood is designed to withstand moisture, making it perfect for boat building and other marine environments. It’s made with waterproof glue and high-quality veneers to prevent delamination and rot.

Construction plywood applications

Construction plywood is used in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Flooring: Provides a sturdy base for various flooring materials.
  • Wall Sheathing: Enhances the structural integrity of walls and provides a base for exterior finishes.
  • Roof Decking: Used under shingles or other roofing materials to provide a robust and stable surface.
  • Concrete Forms: Ideal for creating moulds for poured concrete due to its strength and smooth surface.
  • Subfloors: Acts as a base layer for finished flooring materials, adding stability and durability.

The key properties of construction plywood

Several fundamental properties make construction plywood a valuable building material:

  • Strength and durability: The layered structure provides excellent resistance to cracking, shrinking, and warping, allowing it to handle significant loads.
  • Moisture resistance: Certain types, like exterior and marine plywood, are treated to withstand moisture, making them ideal for wet or humid environments.
  • Versatility: Plywood can be cut and shaped to fit various needs, from basic structural elements to intricate designs, opening up a world of project possibilities.

Typical dimensions of construction plywood

Plywood comes in various thicknesses, typically 3mm to 25mm. The thickness needed depends on the application. For instance:

  • 6mm: Suitable for lightweight applications like interior wall panelling.
  • 12mm: Commonly used for subfloors and wall sheathing.
  • 18mm: Ideal for heavy-duty applications like roofing and flooring.

Construction plywood vs. architectural plywood

While construction plywood prioritises strength and structural integrity, architectural plywood prioritises aesthetics. Architectural plywood often features high-quality veneers with attractive finishes, making it ideal for visible surfaces like furniture and cabinetry. Meanwhile, construction plywood is perfect for outdoor applications or other projects that need to withstand some battering.

Where to buy construction plywood

If you want to buy plywood ready for your next construction project, contact the team at Canterbury Timbers. We're a high-quality plywood supplier that offers a wide range of products suitable for various construction needs. You can explore our plywood products, learn more about us, or contact us for personalised advice.


What are the different grades of plywood and their respective uses?

Plywood grades range from A to D. A-grade plywood is of the highest quality and is known for its smooth, sanded surfaces and minimal defects. Lower grades, like C and D, may have more knots and blemishes. Higher grades are used for visible surfaces, while lower grades are suitable for structural purposes.

How does plywood thickness affect its suitability for various construction applications?

Thicker plywood provides greater strength and stability, making it suitable for load-bearing applications like flooring and roofing. While thinner plywood is lighter and easier to handle, it's ideal for non-structural uses such as panelling.

What are the main types of plywood used in construction, and what are their characteristics?

The main types include structural plywood, exterior plywood, interior plywood, and marine plywood. Each type has unique characteristics tailored to specific applications, such as exterior and marine plywood moisture resistance.

How can I determine which plywood is best suited for outdoor projects requiring resistance to moisture?

For outdoor projects, choose exterior or marine plywood. These types of plywood are manufactured with moisture resistance in mind to prevent rot and ensure longevity in wet conditions.

What environmental certifications should I look for when purchasing plywood?

To ensure you get sustainably sourced products, look for certifications such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

How do the costs of different grades and types of plywood compare, and what factors influence pricing?

Higher grades and specialty types like marine plywood are generally more expensive due to their superior quality and treatments. Factors influencing pricing include wood species, thickness, and the presence of certifications.

For more information and to purchase high-quality construction plywood, visit Canterbury Timbers.