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What are the four types of plywood?

Plywood is a versatile engineered wood product that has revolutionized the construction and furniture industries. Its strength, durability, and cost-effectiveness make it a popular choice for various applications. In this article, we’ll explore the four main types of plywood, their characteristics, and uses. We’ll also discuss the standard size of plywood in India and compare HDHMR (High-Density High-Moisture Resistant) boards with traditional plywood.

Understanding Plywood: An Overview

Before diving into the specific types, let’s briefly explain what plywood is and how it’s manufactured.

Plywood is an engineered wood panel made by gluing together thin layers (called veneers or plies) of wood. These layers are typically arranged with the grain of each layer perpendicular to the adjacent layers, which enhances the panel’s strength and stability.

Key Features of Plywood:

  • Strength and durability
  • Resistance to warping and shrinking
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Versatility in applications
  • Available in various grades and sizes

Now, let’s explore the four main types of plywood.

The Four Types of Plywood

  1. Softwood Plywood
  2. Hardwood Plywood
  3. Tropical Plywood
  4. Aircraft Plywood

Let’s examine each type in detail.

1. Softwood Plywood

Softwood plywood is one of the most common and widely used types of plywood.


  • Made from coniferous trees (e.g., pine, fir, cedar)
  • Lighter in color and weight compared to hardwood plywood
  • Generally less expensive than hardwood plywood
  • Available in various grades for different applications


  • Construction (wall sheathing, roof decking)
  • Furniture making
  • Packaging and crating
  • DIY projects


  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to work with
  • Good strength-to-weight ratio


  • Less durable than hardwood plywood
  • May not have an attractive grain pattern for visible applications

2. Hardwood Plywood

Hardwood plywood is known for its strength, durability, and attractive appearance.


  • Made from deciduous trees (e.g., oak, maple, birch)
  • Denser and heavier than softwood plywood
  • More expensive than softwood plywood
  • Available in various grades and veneer options


  • High-end furniture
  • Cabinetry
  • Interior paneling
  • Decorative applications


  • Excellent strength and durability
  • Attractive grain patterns
  • Superior screw-holding capacity


  • More expensive than softwood plywood
  • Heavier, which can be a disadvantage in some applications

3. Tropical Plywood

Tropical plywood is made from hardwood species found in tropical regions.


  • Made from tropical hardwood species (e.g., meranti, lauan)
  • Often has a distinctive reddish or pinkish color
  • Generally more resistant to moisture and decay than other types
  • Available in various grades and thicknesses


  • Marine applications (boat building)
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Exterior construction in humid climates
  • Flooring underlayment


  • Excellent moisture resistance
  • Good durability in challenging environments
  • Attractive appearance


  • Can be expensive
  • Sustainability concerns due to tropical forest deplestation

4. Aircraft Plywood

Aircraft plywood is a specialized type designed for high-performance applications.


  • Made from high-quality hardwoods (e.g., birch, mahogany)
  • Engineered for maximum strength and minimal weight
  • Manufactured to strict quality standards
  • Often has more plies than standard plywood


  • Aircraft construction
  • High-end boat building
  • Musical instruments
  • Specialty furniture


  • Exceptional strength-to-weight ratio
  • Superior quality and consistency
  • Excellent dimensional stability


  • Very expensive
  • Limited availability
  • Overkill for most standard applications

Standard Size of Plywood in India

In India, plywood is available in various sizes to cater to different construction and furniture needs. The standard size of plywood in India is typically measured in feet and inches.

While these are the standard sizes, custom sizes can often be ordered from manufacturers or cut to size at local hardware stores.

Thickness Options:

Indian plywood is available in various thicknesses, typically measured in millimeters:

  • 4 mm
  • 6 mm
  • 9 mm
  • 12 mm
  • 16 mm
  • 19 mm
  • 25 mm

The choice of thickness depends on the specific application and load-bearing requirements of the project.

HDHMR vs Plywood

When it comes to engineered wood products, the debate of HDHMR vs plywood is common among builders and DIY enthusiasts. Both materials have their strengths and ideal applications, making the choice dependent on specific project needs.

HDHMR (High-Density High-Moisture Resistant) boards are made from wood fibers bonded with resins under high pressure. They offer uniform density, excellent screw-holding capacity, and superior moisture resistance. HDHMR boards have a smooth surface finish and are easy to machine, making them ideal for furniture and cabinetry.

Plywood, on the other hand, consists of thin wood veneers glued together. It comes in various types (softwood, hardwood, tropical, and aircraft) and grades, offering versatility for different applications. Plywood generally has a better strength-to-weight ratio and is more cost-effective than HDHMR.

In the hdhmr vs plywood comparison, HDHMR stands out for its moisture resistance and uniform composition, while plywood offers natural wood grain aesthetics and wider availability. HDHMR is often preferred for high-end furniture and moisture-prone areas, whereas plywood remains a popular choice for construction and general woodworking projects.

Ultimately, the choice between HDHMR and plywood depends on factors such as budget, aesthetic preferences, and specific project requirements.

Choosing the Right Type of Plywood for Your Project

When selecting plywood for your project, consider the following factors:

  1. Application: Interior or exterior use
  2. Required strength and durability
  3. Aesthetic considerations
  4. Budget constraints
  5. Environmental factors (e.g., moisture exposure)
  6. Local availability

Tips for Selecting Plywood:

  • For interior furniture and cabinetry, hardwood plywood is often the best choice.
  • For construction and structural applications, softwood plywood is typically sufficient and more cost-effective.
  • If moisture resistance is crucial, consider tropical plywood or marine-grade options.
  • For high-performance applications where strength and weight are critical, aircraft plywood may be worth the investment.
  • Always check the grade of the plywood to ensure it meets your quality requirements.


Plywood is a versatile and valuable material in construction, furniture making, and various other industries. The four main types of plywood – softwood, hardwood, tropical, and aircraft – each have their unique characteristics and best-suited applications. Understanding these differences, along with considerations like the standard size of plywood in India and the comparison between HDHMR and traditional plywood, can help you make informed decisions for your projects.

Whether you’re a professional contractor, a DIY enthusiast, or simply curious about building materials, having a good grasp of plywood types and their properties will serve you well. As with any building material, it’s essential to choose the right type of plywood for your specific needs, taking into account factors such as durability, appearance, cost, and environmental impact.

Q: What is the most common type of plywood?

A: Softwood plywood is the most common type, widely used in construction and general-purpose applications.

Q: Is hardwood plywood always better than softwood plywood?

A: Not necessarily. While hardwood plywood is generally stronger and more durable, softwood plywood is more cost-effective and suitable for many applications.

Q: Can plywood be used outdoors?

A: Some types of plywood, such as marine-grade or certain tropical plywoods, are suitable for outdoor use. However, they must be properly treated and maintained to withstand the elements.

Q: What is the standard size of plywood in India?

A: The most common standard size of plywood in India is 8 feet by 4 feet (2440 mm x 1220 mm), although other sizes are also available.

Q: How does HDHMR compare to plywood in terms of moisture resistance?

A: HDHMR generally has better moisture resistance than standard plywood, making it a good choice for humid environments or areas prone to water exposure.

Q: Is aircraft plywood worth the extra cost for non-aviation projects?

A: For most non-aviation projects, aircraft plywood is unnecessarily expensive. Its high strength-to-weight ratio is primarily beneficial in specialized applications where weight is a critical factor.

Q: How can I determine the quality of plywood?

A: Look for the grade stamp on the plywood, which indicates its quality and intended use. Also, check for defects like knots, gaps, or delamination.

Q: Can plywood be painted or stained?

A: Yes, plywood can be painted or stained. Hardwood plywood with attractive grain patterns is often stained to highlight the natural wood appearance, while paint can be used on any type of plywood.

Q: Is HDHMR more environmentally friendly than plywood?

A: HDHMR is often considered more environmentally friendly because it uses wood waste in its production. However, sustainably sourced plywood can also be an eco-friendly choice.

Q: How long does plywood typically last?

A: The lifespan of plywood depends on its type, quality, and how it’s used and maintained. In ideal conditions, high-quality plywood can last for decades, especially when used in interior applications.

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