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What Are the Different Types and Grades of Plywood?

Mar. 12, 2021

Let's be honest: it's difficult to know exactly which grade or type of plywood is best for any given type of building project unless you are familiar with all the options available, including the labels of said plywood types (which can be confusing). Some plywood is lighter, cheaper, more durable and weather-resistant (not to mention aesthetically pleasing) than others. In addition, the best plywood for building outdoor projects such as porches or decks is not necessarily the most effective plywood for indoor projects such as flooring or cabinets. Other projects such as boat hulls, sheds or treehouses may also require other types of plywood.


Plywood is one of the most commonly used materials in the US: according to Statista's 2016 report, the total production of plywood and plywood in the US that year was approximately 683 million cubic feet. There are four main grades of plywood: A, B, C and D. Each plywood contains two grades, for example, the corresponding compounds are labelled as "AB" or "BC". The first letter refers to the "veneer" finish, while the second letter refers to the "back" finish. If a plywood compound has an X at the end of its name, it has been exposed to a certain degree of moisture. By definition, plywood is arranged perpendicular to each other. Plywood can come in a variety of thicknesses including ½", ¼" and ¾".

Plywood grades

Grade A plywood: This is the highest quality plywood and therefore usually the most expensive plywood, as the veneer will be flawless.

Grade B plywood: B-grade plywood is slightly less smooth than A-grade plywood and has a solid base. It usually has minor defects and can be repaired.

Grade C plywood: This plywood has several knots in the sheets and can be up to 1.5 inches in diameter.

Grade D plywood: The cheapest type of plywood veneer, usually unrepaired. Defects may be slightly larger and knots in this plywood may reach 2.5" in diameter.

Different types of plywood

CDX: CDX grade plywood is usually an inexpensive material as it is made from the two lowest grades (C and D). It can also withstand some moisture. CDX plywood is ideal for building worktops and storage units.

Sanded pine: A versatile plywood, sanded pine has a smooth, clean surface and can be tightly screwed and nailed. Ideal for building boxes and cabinets.

Baltic birch: Baltic birch is also a versatile material with clean edges and a smooth surface, and the baltic birch plywood is therefore usually more expensive.

Baltic Birch Plywood

Plywood for interior use

Sheet plywood oriented strand board: Also known as 'pancake board', this plywood is made from wood chips and therefore has a linen-like appearance. Its patchwork design consists of wood chips glued together in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours.

Plywood for outdoor use

Whether a certain type of plywood can withstand snow, rain or other types of weather events depends on factors such as heat and moisture.

Pressure-treated plywood: This type of plywood is highly resistant to mould and mildew due to the saturation with chemicals. Pressure-treated plywood is durable and does not require painting or any other type of protective coating.

CDX sheathing: An inexpensive type of plywood, CDX sheathing should never be found. Usually used to cover roofs, garages or storage bins with bricks or roofing sheets.

Other commonly used plywood types include Marine Grade Plywood (MDO), which is lightweight and made from waterproof glue, and Southern Yellow Pine, which is ideal for roof and wall cladding work.

Seeking more information on plywood grades and types

As a plywood supplier, RICO was founded in 1980. For building materials,RILICO is the most reputable brand in the Middle East market for more than 40 yeas. We believe honesty and integrity is the only way to go and delivers what we promise. Our strict quality control ensures high and consistent quality every time, that is why RILICO means quality. Please contact us to find out more about which type and grade of plywood are best for your building project.

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