5 Different Types of Hardwood Plywood Explained

Bunches of plywood.

You may find hardwood plywood can be confusing to buy because there are many types available. Deciding the core components you need for your project is what causes the most confusion among most consumers. This guide will explain the different types of hardwood plywood and what type of application they are most commonly used for.

5 Most Popular Types of Hardwood Plywood and Their Differences Explained

MDF (Medium Density Fiber Core)

MDF has a core made of wood dust mixed with a binding agent then heat pressed. The end result is a sturdy, resilient, and workable material. The upsides of MDF is it never splinters, maintains a smooth surface, resists warping, and holds screws in place well. The downside of MDF is that a sheet of it weighs 70 to 100 pounds.

PBC (Particleboard Core)

PBC is similar to MDF as it is made the same way by binding wood pieces with glue instead of wood dust as does MDF. It also is heat pressed for a smooth, solid material. Its uses are almost exactly the same as MDF such as uses for cabinet making and carpentry work. The only difference between the two is the components the two are made of makes the PBC more lightweight. This makes PBC more favorable among most contractors.

HDP (High Density Plywood)

HDP has many positive attributes but the main reason it is chosen over the others is its strength due to its many layers. It contains up to nine layers of directional hardwood veneer. HDP is used for building high quality, sound cabinetry that may contain very heavy contents.

VC (Veneer Core)

VC consists of three layers of veneer with staggered grain at right angles for a structure that otherwise would break easily if grain were running with each other. To provide more strength, these layers are glued together. VC is used to build cabinets, furniture, as well as countertops and tabletops.

Calibrated Core/Platform

Calibrated Core/Platform is used when precision is a must. Its inner ply will only vary .005 inch, which dictates its measured perfection at any location across the board. The calibrated core plywood is used on upscale cabinetry and furniture that cannot tolerate differences in thickness.

Grading of Hardwood Plywood

There are two different grades of plywood, Type I and Type II. Type I is treated with a waterproof coating for use outdoors where moisture is abundant. Water and snow skis are made from Type I grade. Type II plywood is used primarily for interior jobs such as for cabinets and carpentry. It is treated lightly with a waterproof coating, but is not recommended for outdoor use.

There are many different types and grades of hardwood plywood available. Choosing the grade as explained in the previous paragraph for indoor or outdoor use is recommended. Once you know the grade, follow the guidelines listed above for the type of plywood with the best characteristics to meet the needs of your project.