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What is plywood?

Plywood is made of layers of real wood or “plies” glued together. The more layers of wood glued together make it stronger and denser. It is made by cross-graining wood (meaning the grain of each sheet is alternated) and they are glued together with great pressure. It is great because it is strong compared to other sheet materials. There is less wood splitting when applying fasteners. It doesn’t shrink or expand as much as other sheet woods and it is very balanced. 


Plywood is a very versatile, strong, and affordable product, and therefore very popular in DIY projects and construction. Compared to MDF and chipboard it is much stronger, but still cheaper than solid wood. It is used both outdoors and indoors and can be used in a multitude of ways. 

There are different types of plywood. Construction grade is made of softwoods. The fibers can separate when under pressure. If you need it be bendable, then you will want hardwood plywood. It can be used for wall, flooring, furniture and much more.

How to Treat and Paint

When working with plywood you will need to know which kind you have first. High grade plywood might not need as much finishing as low grade. To prepare the wood you will need to fill any holes with wood putty. Let dry, then sand down. Clean the surface from any debris, then you are ready to prime it. Priming your wood will protect it from the elements and prep it for paint. If you are using the plywood for the outdoors you will want to waterproof it before priming. These protective sprays add a layer of fine plastic. Because it is made of layers of wood it can become damaged by water easily if you skip this step. 

After allowing the primer to dry it is finally time to paint! Water based, acrylic-latex paints are the best choice. Epoxy paints work as well. High quality paint will provide better results. Wetting your brush and painting with the grain will also make your plywood more appealing. Lastly, you will want to apply a coat or two of finish for the finishing touch!

Need more woodworking ideas, tips, and news? Visit more of Byrd Tool’s blogs.

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