What Is Plywood, and How Is It Made?

Plywood has been widely used and loved for a range of applications. These manufactured panels are especially revered for their function in construction products. From decorative interior uses to providing stability in core construction, plywood is rightfully one of the most popular wood products in the construction industry. But what is plywood exactly? Learn how plywood is made, what it is used for, and the many types of plywood you can find from RoyOMartin. 

What Is Plywood, and How Is It Made?

What Is Plywood & What Is It Used For? 

Plywood is a special type of wood panel that is engineered to minimize the material’s natural inclination to bend and warp. Thin layers of wood veneer are pressed together with a waterproof adhesive to form sheets of various thicknesses. Not only does this process impart strength and durability, but it also contributes to a lighter-weight product. 

These manufactured panels can be used in a variety of applications, including furniture manufacturing, construction materials, recreational vehicles, golf carts, packaging, and shipbuilding. From flooring and sheathing to cabinets and shipping crates, there are many uses for this material spanning several industries. Plywood can also be used as a substitute for other materials in many applications and is a sustainable and environmentally responsible option.

How Plywood Is Made

Plywood is made using mature logs to target large- to medium-diameter sizes. This may be sourced from Douglas firs, maples, or a variety of other softwoods or hardwoods. At RoyOMartin, we select logs of Southern yellow pine. After being cut to the desired length, these ply blocks will be cleaned of all exterior bark. Each block is conditioned, soaked in vats of hot water, and cut into long ribbons. These ribbons, or veneers, are peeled, dried, and sorted by visible defects and moisture. The remaining core from the ply block will be processed into landscape timbers or solid wood boards.

Face, core, and back veneers are selected, coated with resin, and stacked together in a cross-grain pattern to increase strength. Depending on the desired thickness, three or more layers of veneer may be used in the assembly. After stacking the required number of layers, they are compressed under heat and high pressure by a hydraulic press and then cut into standard-size panels. 

Before being sold, we inspect each plywood panel, repair any issues, and then finish each piece according to its use. Beaded plywood is scored with decorative lines and tongue and groove flooring is given appropriate edge cuts. Each panel is then organized, stacked, and prepared for shipping.

Types of Plywood

Plywood is available in many forms, including structural plywood, marine plywood, exterior plywood, and interior plywood. These panels may come sanded or unfinished, pre-cut, or made from softwood or hardwood depending on the application. There are four common grades of softwood plywood veneer:

  • A-grade plywood is the most expensive and highest quality plywood option. This type of plywood is smoother and easier to stain or paint, delivering an appealing visual finish.
  • B-grade plywood is predominantly smooth, but it typically has small flaws that may need to be repaired.
  • C-grade plywood often has larger visible flaws up to 1.5 inches in diameter.
  • D-grade plywood, the least expensive grade of plywood, can have the most visible flaws up to 2.5 inches in diameter.

Each grade is useful for different applications. For instance, grades A-C are appropriate for use in interior products such as cabinet facing while D-grade panels are used for construction. Some plywood products offer two grades in one panel. For example, a softwood plywood panel is made with a “face” veneer and a “back” veneer. This is graded using two letters, the first indicating the front of the panel and the second referring to the back. For example, an “AC” panel has a higher-grade face veneer and a lower-grade back sheet.

What RoyOMartin Has to Offer

Not all plywood is created for the same application. Knowing which plywood product is right for your needs can help you achieve the best possible finished product. At RoyOMartin, we manufacture eight plywood panel options:

Not sure which panels are right for your construction needs? Give us a call to discuss which product can best suit your project.

A Goal of Sustainability

From air purification and water filtration to supporting wildlife populations and supplying us with the wood materials we need, our forests are essential to industries and communities worldwide. But, over 12 million hectares of forest are lost each year due to unsustainable harvesting practices. RoyOMartin is not only dedicated to providing our customers with high-quality wood products. We also strive to preserve the ecosystems we harvest from. 

Our company is proud to carry Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified materials. We have joined in the mission to sustain our forests with responsible harvesting. We source our timber from areas of sufficient geographical resolution and replace materials that fall outside the realm of responsible sourcing. We follow the FSC’s standards of 

  • Zero deforestation 
  • Safeguarding ancient and endangered forests 
  • Fair wage and work environment 
  • Biodiversity preservation 
  • And community rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples 

Learn more about all of the wood products RoyOMartin has to offer and our mission of sustainable forestry and harvesting here. 

Find High-Quality Wood Products From RoyOMartin

As a nationwide leader in the timber industry, RoyOMartin is your source for dependable wood products. We would love to discuss the details of your project to determine the right products for your needs. If you have any questions about OSB, plywood, or any of our other products, call 1-800-299-5174 or contact us online. Build better with RoyOMartin.