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Understanding The Differences Between Structural Plywood And Non-Structural Plywood

Professional plywood workers and Plywood suppliers often talk about structural and non-structural plywood. Though everyone knows about plywood the technicalities are beyond the grasp of the common mind especially for the people crazy about DIY. However, one needs to know the technicalities of plywood basically for two reasons. They are (1) to determine the appropriate type and grade of plywood for durability and aesthetic, and (2) for the cost-effectiveness of your work.

Therefore, it is necessary to know what are these two different types of plywood, their differences, applications, and advantages. The first thing you need to know is what plywood is in technical terms and what are the different types of plywood. This will help you to further understand these two types of plywood and in particular which one to use for what purposes.

What Is Plywood And Different Types Of Plywood?

Plywood is known to everybody but it is difficult to answer what plywood is and what are the different types of plywood. It is an engineered sheet material made from thin layers of wood veneer plies that are glued or bonded together with adhesive. It is made of hardwood and softwood or a combination of both. Because of this, there is a variety and differences in the material available in the market in terms of characteristics, quality, and price. 

When you go to plywood distributors you will find the material that is pressed into flat large sheets. These sheets are used for construction purposes like floor, roof, walls, kitchen cabinets, etc. Other sheets come with compound and simple curves that are used to make furniture, vehicles, boats, etc.

The external layers of material are called the face and back. The face of plywood is the surface that is seen when in use whereas the back remains hidden under the face. The centre layer between the face and the back is called the core. In the case of the plywood that contains five or more plies, the core or the layers in between the face and back are called crossbands. 

There are numerous types available in the market- like softwood plywood, hardwood plywood, aircraft plywood, exterior plywood, lumber core plywood, etc. Besides this, you also have marine plywood, overlaid plywood, tropical plywood, flexible plywood, construction plywood, veneer core plywood, MDF core, including structural plywood and numerous other types of plywood.  

What Is Structural And Non-Structural Plywood?

Plywood is categorised into two primary types, the first is structural plywood and the second is non-structural plywood. In fact, this categorisation does not make much difference but it does make a significant difference. You can use the former type of plywood for applications that can be done non-structurally. But it is a bad idea to use the later type to apply for making structures whether internal or external. 

As it is already explained above, glues are used for bonding the layers of veneer plies. When type A or type B-bond glues are used for bonding, the product comes under the first category of plywood. The A-bond glue is made of phenol-formaldehyde resin whereas the B-bond is composed of melamine-urea formaldehyde. The plywood that is bonded with A and B-bond glues is considered best in terms of its strength that can withstand adverse temperatures as well as damp conditions.

The C and D bond glues are used to make the second type of plywood and they are based on urea-formaldehyde resin. This resin is not considered good as it deteriorates in temperature fluctuations, especially in high humidity. Therefore, this category of plywood is not usually used outdoor, especially for external construction purposes. Besides this, the second type of plywood is considered inferior in terms of plywood cut size in comparison to A abs B-bond plywood.

What Are The Differences Between The Two Types?

The primary difference between these two types of plywood is the glue or resin used for making the materials. Eventually, this leads to a remarkable difference in the quality, durability, and aesthetic between the A/B-bond and C/D-bond plywood. It further determines the use of this plywood for different purposes as follows:

  • The first type of plywood, because of its capacity of withstanding high temperature, humidity, and damp conditions, is appropriate for external constructions like buildings and homes, hoardings and beams, flooring, roof, walls, etc. Besides this, you can also use this plywood in making outdoor and indoor furniture like boxes, bins, crates, cupboards, cabinets, etc.
  • The best plywood is the A bond type that can withstand any harsh weather and moisture outdoors as well as indoors. However, there is a special type of plywood made of WBP (Weather and Boil Proof) called marine-grade plywood that can withstand moisture better than any plywood. Similarly, the B-bond type of plywood is usually used for doors, windows, concrete formworks, etc. which may not be as durable as the A-bond type but can serve the purpose. However, plywood can be also a combination of A and B-bond types.
  • The second type of plywood also called interior plywood is not durable as the A/B-bond plywood and usually used for aesthetic finishes. C-bond type of plywood is considered best for furniture, wall lining, and other decorative elements. Nevertheless, if you ask a commercial plywood supplier for their recommendation of choosing plywood for furniture and other decorative elements, they will suggest you go for MR grade plywood for durability and quality.
  • The D-bond types of plywood are somewhat similar to C-bond types but they are inferior in terms of humidity tolerance. If you are choosing the D-bond type of plywood for interior purposes you should avoid using them for elements in high humidity.

Advantages Of Both Types Of Plywood

A/B-bond plywood comes first when it comes to advantages as they are corrosion, chemical, and damage-resistant. They also withstand cold, humidity, and heat, and are considered long-lasting both in internal and external usages. The C/D-bond plywood is though not durable in comparison to its counterpart but is popularly used for internal purposes for aesthetics. The non-durable plywood creates stunning visual effects and is lightweight and cost-effective.

The bottom line of understanding the difference between these two types of plywood is to determine whether to approach a marine plywood supplier or go for the non-structural plywood. Eventually, you must never forget that A/B-bond plywood is more expensive and can hurt your purse than buying C/d-bond plywood.

Adrianna Tori

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