posted 5/31/2018 in Kreg Tool Tips: Wood Buying by Kreg Tool Company

At first glance, all of the large panels in the plywood aisle may look the same. But you’ll soon see that there are different materials with a variety of appearances, thicknesses, and prices. There are important differences beyond those things, though.

Plywood sheets are made by gluing thin wood veneers (plies) together into large sheets that are stronger, more stable, and less expensive than the panels would be if made from solid wood. Plywood of all types is sold in standard 48"x96" (4'x8') sheets. Thicknesses range from 1/4" to 3/4". Some stores also stock half (48"x48") and quarter (24"x48") sheets. In home centers, you'll find three general types: 

General Info Common Uses Pros Cons
Sheathing: These panels are used for roofs, walls, and subfloors. Because they're not meant to be seen, sheathing plywood has a lot of visible defects. It's also likely to warp unless attached to a solid sub-structure.  roofs, walls, subfloors inexpensive, strong not stable, unattractive, limited selection
Sanded ply is the next step up from sheathing, and is designed to be flatter and more stable, with a smoother surface. These sheets are primarily meant as substrates, but may be suitable for garage and utility projects. substrates for countertops, etc. smoother, more stable, stronger than sheathing inconsistent appearance
Hardwood plywood has more plies that are thinner for the best flatness and stability, and is covered with a Hardwood veneer (usually birch or oak in home centers) for an attractive appearance. It's designed for building furniture and cabinets indoors. Though it costs more, hardwood plywood is the best choice for projects, because it will remain stable and strong, and can be painted or stained. indoor furniture, cabinets, home projects high-quality construction, attractive appearance cost, limited selection
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