Plywood vs Solid Wood

There are many things to consider when building your house or building anything else such as the material because this will decide if the final product will be able to last or serve its purpose properly. Among those many wood materials, Plywood vs Solid Wood are very common to use for house or furniture projects. They are initially the same but also different, so if you wonder which better for your next work, go check our article below to see their difference.

In this article, we are going to give you information about:
– What are Plywood and Solid Wood
– Which is stronger between Plywood and Solid Wood
– Which looks better between Plywood and Solid Wood
– Which will last longer between Plywood and Solid Wood
– Which is easier to maintain between Plywood and Solid Wood
– Which is more expensive between Plywood and Solid Wood
– Plywood vs Solid Wood

About Plywood and Solid Wood
Timber or wood is one of the most popular material to build something whether it is for house or building and for furniture which making the material very versatile for a lot of types of application. No matter where you live, we must find some houses or building and furniture made from timber or other wood products around and due to the versatility, people keep improving and adding the variants of it to match the purpose or the final products.

Plywood is one of the most popular wood product for the versatility to make and build many things, moreover, this material is mostly affordable, so we can afford them easily compared to a whole wood. Plywood is just like the name, a wood product made from several plies of wood veneer which is glued together, making it a thick or thin plies of plywood. They have several grade to match each use and a wide range or size and price as well depend on the quality.

When it comes to plywood or solid wood as an option, the decision will lay on your preference since both are equally a good material. As opposed to plywood made from wood veneers, a regular wood or solid wood is taken from trees which have to be decked first after they are cut into smaller sizes from the original log. These blocks can be directly used to make furniture or other projects. Depend on where you live, the most popular wood used will differ as well.

Since solid wood are naturally carrying the traits of the trees, they will also differ from one type of trees to another such as softwoods like cedar, cypress and fir and hardwood like ash, balsa, and beech. With this, some wood will be better for a type of application than the other; for example, some wood are popular for instrument while some are more popular for building construction and making furniture. Read also: Luan vs Plywood here.

Plywood and Solid Wood Strength
On the strength, solid wood is believed to be stronger than a plywood because it is a homogeneous material but the strength will also depend on the type of trees it comes from because good quality hardwoods like teak or sheesham are denser, heavier and stronger compared to softwood like pine wood. However, plywood is not weak as well while they are indeed made up of sheets that are glued together while the properties of this material in the two major panel directions are almost the same like in wood.

Since both of them can come from hardwood and solid wood, it is good to take them as a consideration as well. Just like the name, hard wood most of the time will be denser and harder than softwood but it is not completely true; for example, a balsa wood is soft, light and less dense than many other type of woods but is considered as a hard wood. This is because classification of wood is not based on the density or weight but based on the plant reproduction.

Hard wood is those woods coming from an angiosperm tree which is a type of tree that seeds are enclosed whether they are in pods, shell, a covering or in a fruit. The easiest example is apples or nuts and seed like walnuts that has flower attracting bees or insects to carry the pollen to other trees and one of the main reason why hard wood trees are not bunched together but has space parting one tree from another.

Plywood and Solid Wood Look
On the look, we are agree that solid wood are better than plywood for both building materials and furniture because the natural wood grain pattern will looks great when put in a visible place such as the string and durable teak wood with its golden brown color. At the other hand, Plywood is having two sides, the face and back with the face being more presentable than the back. But, to enhance the look, we will need to either put another layer of solid wood or laminates them like Sunmica.

Plywood and Solid Wood Lasting Ability
The next thing you need to know when considering both materials is the ability to last longer because we want the final product last for a long time. In this side, plywood and solid wood ability to last will depend on several factors, mainly on the gluing grade of a plywood and the type of trees the solid wood comes from. For plywood, they can last longer than the other and usually, the name and grading are placed on each product, so we can see if they can suit the type or application we are working on.

Taken from familyhandyman , in the United States, softwood plywood have several rating ranging from A to D and sometimes we can even find a fifth grade plywood called as the “C-plugged”. Each sheet of plywood you meet will have two grades as the information such as AC which is stating the veneer grade for the face and the back respectively. In some cases, we may also find the third letter to state the exterior use of the sheet.

Grade A is those sheets with a smooth and paintable surface but some of them are not free from repairs since there are also grade A with repairs and knots. Grade B is a solid surface with some repairs that are commonly shaped like a football patches and wood filler. They may also have tight knots with no chunks of wood missing up to 1 inch while may also have some minor splits.

Grade C will have bigger knots more than 1 inch and knotholes to 1 inch with some splits and generally no repairs. The last is Grade D which has bigger knots and knot holes, still with some splits and generally no repairs made.
Maintaining Plywood and Solid Wood.

The next thing you may want to know when deciding between both is probably the ease to take care because just like many things, caring for something may prolonged the life or even increased the value. In this side, a laminated plywood will wins because they are very easy to take care of or maintain since they are scratch resistant, moist resistant and can be cleaned with only a damp cloth. For better quality, a thicker laminating can last longer while thinner laminate may more prone to scratch and hard to replace.

At the other hand, a good quality solid woods like teak wood is water resistant and can be a great choice for outdoor furniture without needing much care. However, just like many other wood, they can become darker along the age and will need a sanding with polishing work to help gaining the original shine and color.
Plywood and Solid Wood Cost

The last most important thing to consider and probably among the top list for budget project is the cost since generally, a solid wood will be more expensive than a plywood because of the low supply from the forest that need to be reserved and control or kept limited because of ecological concerns whereas wood from plantations will take a long time to mature. The same reason is also applied to other engineered materials like particle boards from sawdust and MDF from wood fibers that are also more affordable.

Plywood and Solid Wood for Furniture
If you are making furniture like book shelves and wardrobe doors, plywood is not recommended for the material is prone to bend over time right in the middle when a long pieces are used. For these application, it is better to use block board for more the affordable option or solid wood. For cabinets, the best material will be solid wood but plywood or laminated plywood can be a good choice as well.

However, if you plan to make single or double beds, the most popular material used will be plywood. For any doors, just like it has been mentioned above, a plywood is not recommended due to the bending treat. But, for desks, chairs or dining tables, either plywood or solid wood can work equally well.

Now, let’s compare plywood with solid wood. As you may already know, both materials are almost equally good. In term of look, a good solid wood is better since it is coming with their own wood grain pattern but in term of easy maintaining and cost, plywood is still better. As for strength and applications, both are versatile and can be strong for many applications depend on the tree and your project.

Plywood vs Solid Wood

PlywoodSolid wood:
- More affordable- More expensive
- Less attractive look- Better look
- Easier to maintain- Harder to maintain
- Prone to bend- Doesn’t prone to bend

All in all, both materials can be used for a wide variants or products. However, since plywood have a bending tendency when used in a long length, it is better to pick solid wood in certain application while if you only need them in short length, plywood is easier to maintain especially when laminated and more affordable as well.