There are many varieties of plywood on the market which are designed to meet different requirements and environmental specifications. Understanding the difference between these characteristics is key to ensuring you choose the best product for your project. This simple guide will help you determine which options are available to you and how to choose the right plywood for your needs.
Wood is a natural product so it’s unsurprising that the appearance and quality of it varies from one piece to the next. However, there is a grading system in place that specifies how the finished look of the wood will appear which helps you to buy the right material for your application. The grading rules vary depending on the country where the plywood is produced, so the following information is to be used as a guide only and may differ slightly depending on the plywood.
AB grade plywood is a very high quality and is typically the best quality of all plywood. The surface of this material is incredibly consistent in its appearance and has no large variations in colour. There may be small pin knots, but they are usually no larger than a few millimetres in diameter.
This grade of plywood champions the natural appearance of the wood, so there are changes in the colour of the grain pattern. Smooth knots are allowed, and they are usually under 15mm to 35mm in diameter, but this can vary depending on the country’s grading rules. The surface of B grade wood is usually free from open knots and plugs and the wood is ideally suited to painting, staining or lacquering.
BR Veneer Grade
BR veneer grade plywood is similar to B grade, but the knots of this material don’t typically exceed 7 to 8mm in diameter. The natural appearance of this wood is visible, and it will have colour variations. This grade of plywood is also usually used for thinner sheets of plywood as it is used for specialist applications that require a more high-quality feel. BR veneer grade has a smoother finish than most plywood varieties.
BB grade wood is also similar to B grade, but it allows for larger knots and repairs to the face of the wood. Sound, smooth knots are permitted with this grade of wood and they are usually under 50mm in diameter. Open knots in this grade of plywood can also be repaired with wooden plugs. It is best suited to applications where the visual appearance of the wood isn’t vital.
C grade wood is structurally sound, but the appearance of the wood allows for defects, such as open knots, discolouration and splits in the surface of the wood. Because of these defects, this grade of plywood is not suitable for applications where the appearance of the wood is important but it’s great for situations where the strength of the plywood is vital. It is typically used for construction purposes.
CC grade wood is typically used as the underside of veneers as the structure of the wood is sound, but there are typically defects on the underside of the material. As with C grade wood, these can include open knots, splits and discolouration. This type of plywood is suitable for applications where just one presentable face is required.