If you are considering adding cabinets to your kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else in your house, you want to select the best plywood for the job. Generally, grade A plywood is the highest quality material with perfect veneers.
This type of plywood has a knot-free and smooth surface. It can also be painted. This is the absolute best plywood for cabinets. When making the decision about cabinets for your home, consider all of the details about plywood before you make your final decision.
What is Plywood?
Plywood is an engineered wood that is created from a combination of oriented strand board (OSB) and particle board. Thin sheets of veneer peeled from debarked wood are used for plywood. These thin layers, also called plies, are glued together at alternating angles to create a cross-grain pattern. This pattern creates stability and strength to resist expansion and shrinking from moisture.
Plywood is commonly used for construction because of its affordability and strength. It is used for walls, floors, garages, and roofs. It is also widely used for cabinets, furniture, shelving, fencing, and scaffolding.
Types of Plywood
There are some common types of plywood from which you can select.
Hardwood plywood is made from hardwoods, as its name suggests. Oak, maple, and birch are some of the woods that are used. This plywood tends to be the heaviest of all the plywood options. It is most often used for furniture or something that requires a frame for load bearing.
Plywood panel is pre-cut and ready to use boards that are ideal for DIY projects. They can be various types of ply and wood.
Sanded plywood has plies on the top and bottom that are sanded during the manufacturing process. This type of plywood is ideal for items that can be seen, such as shelving, paneling, and cabinets.
Structural plywood (plywood sheathing)
Structural plywood is intended for permanent fixtures and structures. It is affordable but strong. It is not finished and is best used in places that will not be seen. Another material, such as flooring should cover it. It is also used for framing, bracing, and beams.
Types of Ply
Ply is the layer of veneer that creates the thickness of the plywood. The more ply a board has, the thicker and stronger it is. Plywood always has an odd number of plies and must have at least three.
3-ply is the most common type. It is typically two to three millimeters thick. 3-ply is most often used inside because it has a decorative look to it.
5-ply is a more versatile type of plywood that is usually four millimeters thick. It can be used inside or out, but it should not be used for framing.
Multi-ply is the common term used for plywood that has seven or more plies. It is durable and strong and ideal for framing and roofing.
Plywood is given a rating that dictates where and how it should be used.
Interior rating means that the panels are intended to be used inside. Therefore, they are not waterproof and cannot be exposed to moisture.
Exposure 1 rating has panels that are waterproofed. These panels can be exposed to the elements during the construction process. However, it is not ideal for long-term exposure after construction.
Exposure 2 rating infers that the panels are made with intermediate glue that is not waterproof. Therefore, while the boards can tolerate occasional moisture, they should be used for internal purposes.
Exterior rating means the panels are waterproof and can stand up to inclement weather. This type of plywood is ideal for permanent structures that are outside and could have long-term water exposure.
A Structural 1 rating means that it can resist earthquakes. This plywood is used for seismic retrofit.
There are four grades of plywood that indicate the appearance and quality of the front and back veneers of the plywood.
A Grade Plywood
A grade is the highest quality grade of plywood. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive plywood. The surface of this plywood has a smooth and sanded surface without knots. If there are defects, they are repaired with synthetic filler. This allows the veneer to be painted. A grade plywood is the best plywood for furniture and cabinet doors.
B Grade Plywood
B grade has a sanded and smooth surface but may have defects that are as long as one inch. These defects are repaired before the plywood is used.
C Grade Plywood
C grade is not sanded and could have many defects that need repairing. These defects can include knots that are as long as 1 1/2 inches. In addition, this plywood may be discolored and have sanding defects. This plywood is used when the look is not an essential factor, like a garage or subfloor.
D Grade Plywood
D grade is the least expensive plywood available. It is not sanded and has defects that have not been corrected. You will find knot holes as large as 2 1/2 inches, sanding defects, and discoloration.
How Do I Pick the Best One?
There are many different types of plywood from which you can choose. Consider these elements before making a selection for your cabinets.
You want to ensure the plywood is flat. It can be challenging to work with if it is not flat. This also means you should use genuine plywood for your cabinets. It is not common to find curved plywood; you still want to do all that you can to avoid using them. If you use a piece of plywood that is not flat, it will cause a stacking problem with your cabinets.
Look at the Edges
When considering the edges of the plywood, you want to look at the thickness and plies of the core. The thicker edges mean that the board is a better option for your cabinets. However, if you are using a thin piece of plywood, it will cause problems during the sanding process.
If there are holes and knots, they will get worse during the sanding process. When plywood has thick veneers and plies, it gives it a perfect edge. This also means there are no knots or voids.
Pay Attention to Damage
When choosing plywood, you want to pay attention to any damage. You want to avoid damage as much as possible. If there is damage to the plywood, you want to repair it, especially if there are blisters or scratches. If you see water damage, you will need to select another board. Any time there is water damage to a plywood board, it will need to be replaced. The edges are the first area impacted by water damage. If the plywood is shattered, avoid it.
How Thick Should Plywood Be For Cabinets?
When considering how thick the plywood should be, you should think about how long you want the cabinets to last. The thicker the plywood means that the cabinets will be durable and last longer. For cabinet sides, you should consider 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, or 1/2 inch plywood. The 1/2 inch option will be lighter and less expensive.
For cabinet doors, you should consider using 3/8 inch plywood, especially if you want a design on the front. However, if you want a simple frame and door, you can use 1/4 inch plywood.