What Are The Different Plywood Grades?

Our Guide To The Different Gradings of Plywood

Plywood is the material of choice for a wide variety of construction and carpentry projects today, ranging from property development to furniture production and even crafts projects. Although you may know plywood to be a wood composite material or a wood panel product, what you may not know is that plywood can actually be sourced at varying levels of quality alongside being found at different lengths and widths. 

The quality of plywood is measured on a universal grading scale ranging from A to D. But what are these grades of plywood, what do they mean, and how do you know which of the different grades of plywood is right for your woodworking project?

Our team at Cabinet Timbers is here to answer all of these questions today by delving deep into our range of plywood, the different plywood grades and the applications or purposes you can expect from each of these materials.

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What Is A Plywood Grade and Why Do They Matter?

In its simplest definition, a plywood grade refers to the functional, appearance and aesthetic quality of plywood materials, with Grade A being of the highest quality and Grade D being of the lowest quality. As Grade A plywood is considered to be more versatile and suitable for a wider range of applications, you can expect A-grade plywood to be available at higher price points per square metre than D-grade plywood.

Plywood grades are important to keep in mind when sourcing materials for any woodworking project or for cutting plywood, as the different grades of plywood come with their own ideal applications. For example, as A-grade plywood is less likely to boast wood defects or faults (i.e. knots, core gaps, cracks, etc.), this higher grade of plywood is commonly used for aesthetic purposes as well as in construction.

different grades of plywood

What Are The Grades of Plywood?

So what can the other types of plywood grades be used for? Below, we’ve provided a full overview of all the different grade of plywood and their common applications:

A-Grade Plywood

You can expect A-grade plywood to have the highest quality finish, complete with no visible wood defects.  This makes it a great choice for constructing decorative surfaces across domestic or commercial settings (i.e. boats, homes, offices, retail stores, and public or community spaces).

B-Grade Plywood

B-grade plywood is a cost effective panel that combines both strength and beauty. Made with high quality “B” grade veneers on the face, it is constructed with an “A” bond glue line. B – grade plywood is a popular and versatile product with an endless range of applications such as wall and ceiling lining, furniture making, shop fitting and cabinetry.

C-Grade Plywood

C-grade plywood has more defects than an A- or B-grade plywood, alongside using wood fillers to fill up any gaps in this lower quality material. Although the C face is paintable and is a cheaper alternative to be used for decorative purposes, C-grade plywood is best suited for structural applications such as hoarding, wall and ceiling lining, decorative applications and shop fitting.

D-Grade Plywood

D-grade plywood usually possesses a larger amount of visible wood defects and textural disparities. D-grade plywood may even boast crevices or other wood defects that haven’t been filled using wood fillers. Because of this, you’re most likely to find plywood with D-grade veneers being used solely for non-aesthetic purposes.

grades of plywood
what are the grades of plywood

What About Plywood Glue Bond Grades?

Alongside plywood grades, woodworkers who are sourcing plywood for specialist applications (i.e. for boat building) must also consider the quality of the glue adhesives that were used to produce their plywood materials. One of the best ways to waterproof plywood is to use a high-quality glue sealant. And like the different grades of plywood start with A and end with D, so too does the grading system for plywood glue bonds.

Type A glue sealants are considered to be of the best quality, which is why marine grade plywood will usually always boost a waterproof and boil-proof Type A glue bond. Type A glue bonds are usually produced from a phenol formaldehyde resin that is set under heat and pressure. 

Contrastingly, Type B, C, and D glue bonds are likely to be produced using a melamine-urea-formaldehyde (MUF) or a urea-formaldehyde resin (UF), with MUF Type B bonds being suitable for limited weather exposure, and Type C & D UF glue bonds being more suitable for indoor applications.

So to recap on the types of plywood grades:

  • Type A glue bonds are waterproof and boil-proof, being made with phenol formaldehyde resin.
  • Type B glue bonds are made with melamine-urea-formaldehyde (MUF) resin and are suitable for limited weather exposure.
  • Type C glue bonds are made with urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin and can only withstand minimal exposure to dampness, making it suitable for general interior applications but not for the construction of bathrooms or other moisture-rich environments.
  • Type D glue bonds are made with urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin and are best suited for non-structural applications where your plywood material will have zero exposure to moisture.
different grades of plywood

What Plywood Grade is Right For My Next Project?

With all this information at your fingertips, now is the perfect time to ask yourself which of the different grades of plywood is right for your next woodworking project. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options available to you, then ask yourself these two simple questions:

  • What is your budget for this woodworking project?
  • How important is it for your project to maintain an aesthetically pleasing finish?

If you have a higher budget, then you should be free to source plywood with a higher grade. But if there’s no reason for your plywood materials to be of an A- or B-grade except for aesthetic reasons, you can easily purchase B-, C-, or even D-grade plywood and then treat or paint the plywood upon completion of your project in order to improve the aesthetics of your final product. Lower grade plywoods with strong, Type A glue bonds will be able to provide the same levels of longevity as that of A- or B-grade plywood products.

If, however, you do require plywood materials for furniture producton, then A- or B-grade plywood will be the better choice for your next project, as these are furniture grade plywood products. Similarly, you also have the option of securing structural plywood sheets that boast Type A glue bonds.

Have any more questions about the different grades of plywood or the best uses or applications for the plywood materials found across our range? Then contact our team at Cabinet Timbers via our online enquiry form or by calling (03) 8353 2222 today. We’re here to help you find the right plywood materials for your next woodworking project.


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