BCX vs. CDX Plywood: Which to Choose?

BCX vs. CDX Plywood: Which to Choose?

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Plywood is a fantastically versatile material. That said, choosing the right type of plywood is essential for keeping both your project and your budget on track.

In this article, we’ll help you navigate your way through the worlds of BCX and CDX plywood, helping you choose the right plywood for your project. With our help, you’ll get the finish you need and can be sure that your project will be as hard-wearing as it is beautiful.

BCX vs. CDX Plywood: What Are the Differences?

All plywood is manufactured in similar ways. It is made by gluing thin sheets of veneer together at different angles resulting in a tough, and strong product.

Cheaper than solid wood but nearly as hard-wearing, plywood has traditionally been used for projects which will have a painted finish or be concealed from view. However, increasingly, plywood is being used to give a contemporary finish to projects such as kitchen units and exterior cladding without being covered up.

It is worth bearing in mind that if your project will be exposed to water, it will need to be covered with a weatherproof product as the layers are prone to swelling when wet and, over time, this will cause the plywood to warp and split.

BCX Plywood

BCX plywood is manufactured using softwood making it ideal for construction projects. The adhesives used in BCX plywood are designed to withstand moisture, making it the perfect choice for outdoor projects. While it has a great finish for outdoor projects, its appearance might not be smooth enough for furniture building.

The ‘B’ in its title refers to its finish, where ‘A’ is the smoothest and ‘D’ is the lowest grade. The ‘C’ in BCX tells us that while the finished side is B grade, the interior layers are made with C grade wood. The ‘X’ in BCX plywood tells us that the adhesive used to glue the layers together is exterior grade.

As with all plywood, BCX plywood has one face with a smoother finish and one which is rougher. Unsurprisingly, its ‘B’ grade finish does make it more expensive than CDX. Do be sure when working with BCX plywood that you have its smoother side facing outwards, after all, it is the finish you are paying for with this material.

CDX Plywood

Similarly to BCX plywood, CDX is manufactured from softwood layers glued together with an exterior grade adhesive. CDX plywood is cheaper than BCX plywood because its outer facing side is a less well-finished ‘C’ grade. It may have some tight knots which won’t give the luxury finish that can be achieved with BCX.

Similarly, the interior layers are made with ‘D’ grade layers, which may have small knot holes and splits. This obviously compromises the strength of the CDX plywood compared to the more expensive BCX but it is still plenty strong enough to be used for building subfloors.

Although it is made with exterior grade adhesive, the finish of CDX plywood does not make it suitable for outdoor use and construction products. As the finished side is more likely to have imperfections, there are increased opportunities for water to get inside the product, increasing the likelihood of the product warping or splitting.

It is however ideal for interior projects where the finished look is less important than the build quality and the project won’t be exposed to excessive moisture.

When to Use BCX Plywood?

Because of its strength, exterior grade glue, and smooth finish, BCX plywood is ideal for refitting campervans or even crafting kitchen cabinetry.

It can even be used to construct sheds and summerhouses, as long as these are appropriately weatherproofed after construction. If your project is going to be exposed long-term to the elements, it will eventually need to be covered with a weather-resistant material such as siding or shingles.

Cost and Availability of BCX Plywood

BCX plywood is available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The price can vary widely and, generally, you get what you pay for. Higher grade raw material will result in a more expensive but more hard-wearing end product.

BCX plywood is a readily available product and is usually available to collect on the same day from most hardware stores.

Standard-sized (4 x 8 ft) sheets of BCX plywood can range from below $40 to over $60.

When to Use CDX Plywood?

CDX plywood is great construction material. It is affordable and easy to work with making it a great choice for building subfloors and partition walls.

Cost and Availability of CDX Plywood

Like BCX plywood, CDX plywood is a popular product, available to pick up immediately from most hardware stores.

It also comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, making it easy to find a variety to suit your project.

A standard-sized sheet (4 x 8 ft) can range in price, starting from around $25.

Alternatives to BCX and CDX Plywood

There are many alternatives to plywood on the market, in case you decide that neither BCX or CDX are what you need for your project. Here are just a few of the choices available:

1. MDF

Medium-density fiber boards are cheaper and more lightweight than plywood but are equally as easy to work with. MDF is much less hardwearing than their plywood counterparts.

2. OSB

Oriented strand board is a more environmentally friendly alternative to both plywood and MDF. It is made from a similar process of gluing together pieces of other woods, but the wood it uses is faster growing.

OSB is also more water resistant than both MDF and plywood.

3. Solid wood

For a really luxurious finish, nothing beats the look of solid wood. Available in almost any color or durability you could want, the beauty product does come at a cost, being significantly more costly than alternatives.

In this case, you will need to make a choice between using softwood and hardwood.


Both BCX and CDX plywoods are economical alternatives to solid wood. That said, neither BCX nor CDX plywood is suitable for exposure to water.

While BCX plywood is great for building cabinetry or refitting vans, CDX plywood is an ideal choice for subfloors and partition walls. If you feel like you need something in-between, you might also want to read our comparison of CCX and CDX plywood.