Plywood vs. Plyboard: Which Should You Use?

Plywood vs. Plyboard: Which Should You Use?

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When it comes to popular building materials besides real and solid wood, two of the most popular options to consider are plywood and plyboard. Both are very common and widely used for a variety of purposes, but with that said, they are not the same thing and they do not have the same properties.

Right now, what we want to find out is what exactly both of them are, as well as what the differences to keep in mind are.

Plywood and Plyboard: The Basics

Before we get into talking about the differences between these two wooden materials, it’s probably a good idea for you to know what both of them are. Yes, they are similar, but no, they are not the same.

What Is Plywood?

Plywood is an engineered wood material that is made out of real wood veneers. Many layers of wood veneers (thin strips), up to 20 or more, are laid at 90-degree angles to one another, or in other words, one layer of strips faces side-to-side, and the next top-to-bottom, and so on and so forth.

These many layers of wood veneer are then glued and hot-pressed together to form a solid plywood board. Realistically speaking, plywood is laminated wood. We will take a closer look at exactly what sort of applications plywood is ideal for further below.

What Is Plyboard?

Plyboard is of course a little different than plywood. This type of engineered wood is made by gluing together thin layers of wood-based material to create a core. There are then one or two veneer sheets used to cover the sides of the plyboard, thus squeezing the wooden strips in between the sheets of veneer.

Another way of putting this would be to say that plyboard consists of a timber frame that is filled with solid wood batons.

More or less, you can imagine a core made of wood-based products sandwiched in between two pieces of veneer, with everything being attached to each other using glue, heat, and pressing. It’s literally a sandwich!

Plywood vs. Plyboard: What Are the Differences?

Alright, so now that we know what both plywood and plyboard are, let’s figure out what the differences between them are, so you know which one to choose for your next project.

1. Durability, Strength, and Weight-Bearing Capabilities

Plywood is made out of either high-end softwood or hardwood, or a combination of both, and due to the way that the strips are uniformly glued together in a cross-grain pattern, it is fairly strong and durable. Plyboard can also be fairly durable if hardwood is used, but still not as durable as plywood.

Although neither are great for big-time weight-bearing applications, in this sense, plyboard is the worse of the two. Plywood is the stronger and more durable of the two.

2. Moisture Resistance

Plywood is considered to be fairly water-resistant, and it should not absorb too much water or warp because of it. That said, it does depend on the type of plywood used. On the other hand, plyboard is known to absorb water and to have trouble getting dry, which leads it to often suffer from water damage.

3. Cracking, Warping, and Splitting

What is interesting to note, is that barring moisture, plyboard is actually more dimensionally stable than plywood, and this means that it is less likely to warp or crack under stress. Plywood is not as resistant to warping or cracking, but that said, do keep in mind that moisture does play a role here. If plyboard gets super wet, it will still probably warp eventually.

4. Sawing and Cutting

One of the things that can be said about plyboard is that it is very easy to cut. You can use virtually any type of saw to cut plyboard with ease.

On the other hand, due to the cross-grain pattern that is used to glue plywood strips together, plywood tends to tear out and shred when it is sawed. It’s just not easy to achieve a clean cut when working with plywood.

5. Ability to Hold a Screw

Due to that cross-grain pattern that plywood features, it holds screws very well. Those individual layers that are glued together at 90-degree or perpendicular angles really help to squeeze screws and to hold them in place. Plyboard is OK at holding screws, but not nearly as good as plywood.

6. Material Uniformity

Once again, due to the way in which plywood is glued together, that cross-grain pattern, the material tends to be uniform from one side to the other, which is important both in terms of looks and workability. Plyboard on the other hand may have small gaps on the inside which are not visible from the outside.

7. Weight

Plyboard is much lighter in weight than plywood, thus making it easier to work with for certain applications.

8. Cost

More often than not, plyboard is made with softwood as opposed to hardwood, and yes, plywood is usually made of hardwood. Therefore, based on this alone, it is safe to say that plywood is the more expensive of the two.

9. Sanding, Painting, and More

Although it does depend on the grade and quality of the plywood in question, in general, plywood does not look all that great and it is often not very smooth. It can be hard to sand and paint. Plyboard is the much easier of the two when it comes to sanding and painting.

Which of the Two Should You Choose?

When it comes down to it, which of these two you choose really depends on the application at hand. If you are looking for weather resistance, the ability to bear some weight, and long-lasting durability, then it is plywood you want to go for. If you are looking for a lightweight and cost-effective building material that is easy to sand and paint, then plyboard is the way to go.

Put it this way, plyboard is used for things like wall panels, wardrobes, doors, tables, benches, and bookshelves, whereas plywood is used for flooring, roofing, walling, cabinetry, and for other such applications.


There you have it folks, all of the major differences between plywood and plyboard. Now that you know, you can make an informed choice between the two.