• Types of Sheet Wood

    | by Holly Wood

    The types of sheet wood available on today’s market are as varied as the projects they help create. From the elegant curves of a custom-made cabinet to the robust framing of a new construction home, these materials form the very backbone of our built environment.

    Understanding the different types of sheet wood isn’t merely an intellectual exercise; it’s the first step to ensuring your project’s success, whether it’s a DIY weekend task or a professional architectural endeavour.

    So, ready your tools, real or metaphorical, and let’s journey together through the intricacies and applications of each type of sheet wood.

    Understanding Plywood

    Plywood is an engineered timber product, constructed using slender sheets of wood veneer, often referred to as “plies.”

    Craftsmen carefully layer these wood veneers on top of each other, orienting each sheet at an angle of up to 90 degrees to the adjacent one.

    This cross-grained configuration imparts robustness to the plywood. Such a design not only minimises potential warping but also significantly reduces the likelihood of the material splitting when subjected to nailing, tacking, or screwing.

    Common Types of Plywood

    Hardwood Plywood

    Known for its smooth surface and intricate wood grain, hardwood plywood is a favourite in furniture making. Derived from solid wood of deciduous trees like oak or birch, it offers a blend of beauty and durability.

    Softwood Plywood

    Softwood plywood, made from conifers, is often utilised in wall bracing and roof sheathing due to its strength. Due to its lower cost this is often used for applications where the plywood is unseen

    Marine Plywood

    Essential for outdoor applications such as outdoor furniture, this type boasts a water-resistant glue, making it resilient against moisture-related movements. Marine plywood is a high quality higher cost product and is often used when an installer needs the most robust option.

    Aircraft Plywood

    Mainly crafted from birch veneers, this thin yet sturdy plywood is preferred in high-stress environments, including musical instruments. The plies do not run at 90 degrees to each other with this product, rather by being oriented the same way it allows for easier shaping and contouring as would be needed for an actual aircraft.

    Decorative Plywood

    Craftsmen often refer to this plywood as decorative plywood, prioritising its appearance and surface qualities. Usually boasting a thin surface layer of melamine, it’s perfect for ornamental wood projects and interior fittings.

    Structural Plywood

    As the name suggests, structural plywood finds its place in load-bearing applications. Also called sheathing plywood, it offers both resilience and a durable surface when compared to traditional plywood, making it ideal for exterior surfaces.

    Lumber Core Plywood

    This features a thick core of solid wood sandwiched between veneers, providing a stable base for veneered plywood projects.

    Tropical Plywood

    Crafted from a blend of tropical wood species, tropical refers to where to wood comes from – typical Asia. Consider it a better quality option than basic softwood ply, but source it carefully to ensure that environmental certification is in place. People sometimes refer to it as Far Eastern Plywood, based on its harvest location.

    In addition, there are types like exterior, interior, shuttering plywood, and subfloor plywood among others. The different types of plywood offer a spectrum of options, with factors like plywood thickness, surface layer, and the use of thin veneers or wood chips distinguishing one from another.

    Plywood Types We Stock

    We stock the following plywood types:

    Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF): A Craftsman’s Delight

    Medium density fibreboard (MDF) is celebrated for its smooth surface, free from knot holes.

    Its uniformity is thanks to a continuous production line that breaks down wood residuals into fibres, combining them with a very strong adhesive.

    This makes MDF ideal for detailed crafts, interior fittings, and where a consistent surface is pivotal.

    We should also mention that water is MDF’s kryptonite, so consider the location of any installation carefully.

    We stock the following medium density fiberboard types:

    Particleboard: Practicality Personified

    Manufacturers create particle board, also known as chipboard, by bonding wood chips, shavings, or sawdust with a strong adhesive.

    The result? A cost-effective sheet material perfect for applications where the board will be hidden or overlaid.

    Oriented Strand Board (OSB): Engineered for Endurance

    Constructed from layers of wood chips oriented perpendicularly and bound with adhesives, OSB stands tall in its load-bearing capacity.

    It’s a prime choice in the construction industry, be it for wall bracing or temporary flooring.

    We stock both Squared Edge OSB3 and Tongue & Groove OSB3. 

    Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Types of Sheet Wood

    1. Purpose: Are you building outdoor furniture, focusing on interior fittings, or looking for a subfloor? Different projects will require different types of plywood or sheet materials.
    2. Appearance and Surface Properties: Need a smooth surface for intricate designs? You might find MDF or sanded plywood to be your best bet. Looking for durability? OSB or structural plywood can come in handy.
    3. Cost: While hardwood plywood can be on the pricier side, particleboard tends to be more budget-friendly. Determine what your budget allows for while considering the longevity and appearance of the material.
    4. Environmental Factors: If you’re dealing with outdoor projects or areas with moisture consider using marine plywood or OSB.
    5. Sustainable: Properly sourced and certified timber products from well managed forests are a very sustainable choice for building materials

    6. Safety: Cutting and sanding sheet timber produces dust particles, so take suitable measures such as using PPE. These products can also be heavy, so handle them with care.


    In exploring sheet wood types, the need to select the right material for each project becomes clear. The market offers a diverse array of options, each with its own strengths, aesthetics, and applications.

    By understanding these intricacies, we can harness the full potential of these materials. This ensures not only the success of our projects but also their longevity and aesthetic appeal.

    Whether you’re a seasoned carpenter, an enthusiastic DIYer, or someone simply curious about construction materials, the knowledge of different sheet woods will undoubtedly serve you well in many ventures to come.

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