Skip to content
Blog / The Different Types of Plywood

A Guide to Selecting the Right Types of Plywood for Your DIY or Construction Project


In the UK, there are multiple types of plywood used in various building projects. Some plywood board types are used for specific purposes, based on their grade and unique properties/features.

All plywood is made by glueing multiple layers of wood veneers together, to improve the strength of the board and increase its durability. In this quick guide to plywood, we explain each of the four different types of plywood, including the applications for each.

With your improved understanding of the different types of plywood, you can then make confident choices for your individual building project.

What are the different types of plywood in the UK?

There are four different types of plywood commonly used in the UK. Each type of plywood has its own unique characteristics that are suited to specific applications and jobs. For example, plywood thickness is a measure of quality and possible applications.

As such, each plywood board type is classed and receives a grade based on its characteristics and potential applications.

The 4 different types of plywood and their primary applications are:

Class 1 — Softwood plywood — strictly internal applications.

Class 2Hardwood plywood — interior grade of humid conditions, must be sealed.

Class 3 — Exterior / WBP plywood  — exterior grade but must be sealed.

Class 4Marine plywoodBS1088 compliant for use in external and wet conditions, and marine environments.


different types of plywood sheets on a trolley in a building supplies store

Plywood grades

Plywood grades are determined by the characteristics, appearance and overall quality of the manufactured plywood. The grading system uses a double letter system, with the first letter referring to the front sheet of the plywood, and the second letter referring to the rear sheet.

There are six plywood grades to know:

  1. AB grade –this grade has smooth surfaces that are consistent and have no colour variation. This grade is the highest strength and overall quality of plywood.
  2. B grade –a natural-looking wood, B grade plywood has smooth knots with some colour changes that show the wood grain pattern.
  3. BB grade –used when visual appeal isn’t high on the agenda as it can have large, open knots and face repairs.
  4. BR grade –also known as ‘veneer’ grade, BR grade plywood shows the natural grain of the wood with its colour variations. It’s often thinner and used for specialist applications where the aesthetic is important.
  5. C grade –while structurally sound, C grade plywood has splits, open knots, and discolouration. It’s used for construction where visual appearance isn’t relevant.
  6. CC grade –used in structural applications or where only one visually appealing face is needed. One face will feature open knots, splits, and discolouration, with some defects beneath.


plywood sheets in a factory


Softwood plywood

Softwood plywood is suitable for a wide range of applications, including internal structural work, flooring, walls, roofs, fencing, windows, and decorative purposes. Softwood plywood is predominantly made from pine, cedar, or spruce timber which is easy to work with. Softwood plywood screws, glues, and paints well making it ideal for construction projects.

Softwood plywood is available in various grades, with higher grades suitable for decorative purposes. In terms of costs, softwood plywood is typically more affordable than hardwood plywood, but more expensive grades of softwood plywood are used for decorative purposes.

Browse our range of softwood plywood.

Hardwood plywood

Hardwood plywood is made by glueing thin layers of timber including beech, maple, and walnut with phenol formaldehyde resin. This gives the hardwood ply a strength and stability that makes it suitable for use in joinery, furniture making, shelving, millwork, and cabinetry.

Hardwood plywood is available in a range of grades, with higher grades having a smooth, sanded surface that can be clear-finished to highlight the natural wood grain. It is used extensively in the construction industry as internal or non-structural hardwood plywood can be treated with a suitable preserver for outdoor use.

Browse Fall Timber hardwood plywood.

Exterior / WBP plywood

Exterior plywood, also known as WBP plywood, is a specific form of hardwood ply that is used in construction for external structures, roofing, walls, cladding, and for outdoor furniture.

The WBP acronym comes from the fact that exterior plywood is tested to be weather and boil-proof. This means that the glue that bonds the individual veneers together will not break down when subjected to adverse weather conditions, and can also withstand immersion in boiling water.

Exterior or WBP plywood can also be treated with preservatives for added protection against insects and the elements. It also complies with EN 636-3, a European standard that ensures the suitability of plywood for sustained exposure to adverse weather conditions.

Marine plywood

Marine plywood is made with special waterproof glue that prevents delamination in both moist and extremely wet conditions. Marine plywood only uses high-grade hardwood veneers with no voids or holes, ensuring it is dense and robust and suitable for use in harsh environments and heavy-duty applications.

This material is designed to be used externally and is specifically manufactured for harsh marine environments. It has various applications including marine environments, structural work, porches, decking and heavy-duty outdoor furniture.

Marine plywood is available in different grades from A-A, A-B, B-B, MDO to HDO. In general the better the grading the stronger and more lightweight the plywood is. High-quality marine plywood is used in boat building and dock construction but must be BS 1088 compliant, as this is the standard used in marine insurance.

Browse marine plywood.

Choose the right plywood board type for the job

At Fall Timber, we supply all types of plywood and have done so for over four decades. With a stellar reputation for quality, affordability, and expertise in all things treated wood, we guarantee excellence to our customers.

Offering delivery from Sheffield to Newcastle or Carlisle to York, we can help you with your construction projects.

Speak to one of our treated wood specialists and let’s get started.

Your browser is out of date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


My basket

Close basket

No products in the basket.