Plywood is of course a fantastic building material, as it can be used for many different applications. However, what happens if you buy too much? Or what about if you have to delay your construction plans for whatever reason?
Now you have a bunch of plywood that needs to be kept safe, but oh no, you don’t have any space indoors. So, what do you do? Let’s figure out how to store plywood outside the right way, so that it is still in good condition when you go to use it.
Can Plywood Be Stored Outside?
What needs to be said here is that it is always better to store plywood indoors. The simple fact of the matter is that if you store plywood outdoors, the weather will eventually take a toll on it. This is especially true when it comes to moisture. Moisture and plywood do not get along very well at all. If the plywood is not properly stored and protected from the elements, it will eventually start to degrade, and may quite literally crumble.
This is especially true when it comes to the thin edges of the plywood where you can see all of the layers glued together. If those thin side edges get wet, the plywood will start to absorb moisture, and those edges will start to warp, tear, and crumble. On a side note, plywood that is exposed to too much moisture in general may start to warp over time.
Moreover, plywood where the corners have been cut into rounded edges also presents a problem. Those 90-degree angle corners are glued together well and they can keep moisture out to a certain degree, but when you cut the corners into curves, not only are you effectively removing the outermost layer of protection, but you are also increasing the surface area which is exposed to moisture.
What also needs to be said is that there are many types of plywood out there. For instance, low-grade indoor plywood won’t survive out in the elements for very long at all. However, high-grade marine plywood can handle a good bit of punishment from mother nature before it starts to absorb moisture and degrade. So, the bottom line is that indoors is better, but it is also possible to store it outdoors, given that you follow the storage tips and rules as outlined below.
How to Store Plywood Outside
Let’s go over a step-by-step instructional on how to store plywood outdoors for the best results. If you follow all of the steps as outlined below, you should not have any problems keeping your plywood in top condition when stored outdoors.
Step 1: Pick the Best Location
First off, you need to choose the right location. For argument’s sake, we will assume you have a house with a garage and a shed. So, what you need to do is to pick the best wall to lean the plywood against. Do a bit of research in terms of from which direction the weather in your area comes from.
You want to lean the plywood against the wall that sees the most sunlight, yet also gets the least wind and rain. Also, don’t store the plywood under trees, because you don’t want insects making their way to the plywood. The point here is that you want to use a wall to provide the plywood with as much protection as you can.
Step 2: Get It Off the Ground
With the location chosen, you now want to make a little base or foundation for the plywood to sit on. You never want the plywood in direct contact with the ground, because that means being in direct contact with moisture.
To keep it dry, and also to help prevent insect infestations, keep the plywood off the ground. It’s best to use something that cannot rot for your foundation here. Something like cinder blocks or bricks will do just fine. Space them out according to the size and amount of plywood you have.
Step 3: Space Out the Sheets
You want the sheets to get good airflow. Airflow will prevent moisture from building up and will help keep things dry. To space out your plywood, get a long leather strap, and with some nails or screws, attach small wooden blocks to the strap.
The space between the blocks should be just a little wider than the width of the plywood sheets. This way, you can stack the plywood with a small block in between each board, thus allowing for good airflow. We recommend having one of these block straps on either side for the best results.
Step 4: Cover the Plywood
You always want to cover the plywood to keep it out of the rain and wind.
Some plastic tarps will do just fine for this purpose. Make sure that some air can still get in. You don’t want moisture building up and not having a way to get out. Leaving some small spaces or air holes somewhere near the bottom will help accomplish this. Just make sure the air holes are not at the top, or else too much moisture will get in when it rains.
Step 5: Weigh the Tarps All Down
Use some rocks or anything else heavy enough to weigh the tarps down so they don’t blow off in the wind.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
The number one most important tip to follow here is that while you do want to cover everything to keep wind and rain out, especially the rain, you do need to account for a bit of ventilation. Absolutely no airflow is not good. If there is no airflow, moisture will build up under the tarp.
As you can see, storing plywood outdoors is not hard. Sure, you need to follow the right steps, but there’s really nothing difficult involved.