Known for its strength and stability, plywood is manufactured from thin sheets of veneer wood and a binding element. This layering process is what gives plywood its exceptional strength. Typically manufactured in a 4’ X 8’ sheet, plywood can come in a variety of widths from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch. Because of its relative stability and resistance to movement from temperature and humidity changes, plywood is often chosen for a variety of applications, including sub-flooring, boats, furniture, sheds, and even billboards.
One of the most widely used woods, exterior plywood can be used outdoors for a variety of purposes including boating, fences, boxes, and even skateboard ramps. Because exterior plywood’s strength is not affected by extreme temperatures, it can be used for special applications and situations.
While an exterior plywood uses a water-resistant glue to bind the veneer sheets, those using it should carefully consider the grade of the front and back of the sheet of plywood to determine if it is strong enough for the desired application and climate conditions. Birch, one of the most popular hardwood plywoods, is known for exceptional strength, stiffness, and optimal damage and wear-resistance. Other popular exterior plywoods include pine, spruce, mahogany, oak and maple.
Interior plywood is bound together with a highly resistant glue that will withstand some moisture, bacteria, and mold, but it is not designed for outdoor usage. Those using interior plywood for an aesthetic project should also carefully consider the grade of the side(s) which will be seen. Typically used for interior uses such as wall paneling, cabinetry, or even in some furniture, interior plywood is designed for use in low-moisture conditions.
Because of a recent tariff in import plywood, many manufacturers saw a 7-10% price increase. However, with a recent ruling (Nov 2013) by the ITC (International Trade Commission), this tariff has now been absolved. Yet during the months of this increase, many contractors switched to domestic plywood to avoid the tariff, and many have found that the quality difference is noticeable; such contractors may plan to continue using domestic plywood and simply pass the cost increase on to their customers or absorb it.
However, import plywood still has its benefits when it is a quality, higher-end plywood. Many B grade or “shop” grade panels will still be used, and because of the demise of the tariff, prices may return to normal over time. At J. Gibson McIlvain Company, a premium birch plywood has been a top import choice for years. Currently, prices on the domestic plywood and import plywood are remaining constant, but with the tariff gone, only time will tell if prices will decrease.
Offering a full line of hardwood plywood choices in varying species such as Cherry, African Mahogany, Natural Birch, Natural Maple, Red Oak, Sapele, White Birch, White Maple, Walnut, and White Oak, J. Gibson McIlvain Company offers a variety of interchangeable elements such as Plain Sliced, Sequence Matched & Numbered, Rotary Cut, or Quarter Sawn. The flexibility of options allow the solutions that many customers need for special projects requiring hardwood plywood, whether exterior or interior.
With over 200 years of experience in the lumber industry, J. Gibson McIlvain Company strives to provide nothing but the best quality wood products suited to their customers’ applications and expectations.