Homeowner’s Guide to Shopping for Exterior Plywood

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There are few things more important to your home than the materials that it’s built of. This includes the plywood that you use on your home exterior. There are many different types of plywood on the market, and most of which can be broken down into general categories, including interior and exterior plywood. While there may be overlap in terms of the number of ply or the wood species used, the biggest difference between the two types is the glue used to hold those plies together; exterior plywood uses a water-resistant glue that will help protect your home from the elements and moisture it can be exposed to outdoors. An exterior plywood will generally withstand things like rain, snow, and ice, while an interior plywood may delaminate or rot over time. Exterior plywood can be further divided into several types, which are determined in part by how you intend to use them. This guide to shopping for exterior plywood will help you make the right choice for you home based on your needs.

Exterior Plywood Grades

A home exterior is subject to many different types of weather, depending on its location. A home located in Arizona is going to see very different weather conditions than a home located in New Hampshire. So, one of the things that you’ll need to pay attention to is the grade of the plywood you’re using on your home.

Plywood is graded from A to D, with A being the best quality plywood and D being considered worn or possibly damaged. In addition, plywood is typically given two grades, one for how the front looks and one for the back, with most being graded A-C, B-C, or C-D. A-C plywood is going to perform better in harsher weather conditions than B-C or C-D. Paying attention to your climate and where you will be using this plywood – a shed, a roof on a home, a dog house, etc. – can help you determine the grade to buy.

A homeowner in a hot, dry climate who is building an outbuilding that won’t be lived in or subjected to much moisture might have no problem using B-C or even C-D plywood. A homeowner in a wet, snowy, or harsh climate, however, who is using the plywood on their home exterior or roof will want to invest in A-C plywood.

Exterior Plywood Veneers

Plywood is made up of several different layers of wood or plies. The exterior or top veneer of the plywood can be made of many different wood species, and can help determine how well the plywood is going to wear long term.

Pine is the most basic material used in exterior plywood. It may make up both the interior and the veneer of some low-grade plywood or may be present on the interior of a stronger plywood, which uses a more durable veneer. Pine is a better grade plywood for outbuildings, rather than home exteriors or roof decks.

Spruce is one of the most durable materials used for exterior plywood. No matter how thinly it’s sliced into plies, it retains its durability and strength. Spruce is typically used for better grade plywoods and can be used everywhere on a home exterior with good results.

Mahogany plywood is very even and fine-grained, usually without voids, knots, or holes. This makes it a good quality plywood that’s used more frequently for interior applications, but may be used for decorative exterior purposes or things like cabinetry for porch or deck areas or outdoor kitchens.

Birch is an exceptionally strong plywood, but it tends to fluctuate or swell and contract in temperature differences, which can lead to warping. Birch may therefore be used with other types of wood for exterior purposes, or you may want to consider it for more temperate climates and choose a different type of wood for more harsh climate areas.

Oak is both exceptionally strong and durable, as well as highly resistant to rot and insects. For homeowners who are concerned about these things, or who live in areas that are wooded, or that see a lot of fungus or insect activity, oak makes an excellent plywood for exteriors.

Maple plywood is used more commonly used on interiors. It can be found as an exterior plywood, however, because of its smooth and even surface texture. Therefore, for some decorative exterior areas, maple plywood may give you a better surface texture and a cleaner finished appearance.

Know Your Needs

By paying attention to both your climate and the area you live in, as well as to the type of application you are using the hardwood plywood on, you can make a decision that will result in a high-quality product that will last for years to come. Make sure you understand your needs as you shop for exterior plywood to find the right product for your home exterior.

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