A material that traces its origins to ancient Greece and Rome where it was used for furniture, plywood is an engineered wood panel that finds broad acceptability today in building and interior design projects. The word ‘ply’ means a ‘layer, fold, or thickness, as of cloth, wood, yarn, etc.’ originating from the Latin word ‘plicāre’[1].

Composed of a number of thin veneer layers called ‘plies’, plywood gained popularity in modern times when water-resistant resins were introduced in its manufacture in the 1930s, which increased the material’s integrity and longevity for construction purposes[2].

Plywood is produced by bonding together thin layers of wood using a strong adhesive. Each layer is laid at a 90-degree rotation to the previous layer’s grain, utilising the superior strength and stiffness along the grain. Timber is about 30 times weaker across the grain than along its grain direction, something which is obvious when you use an axe to split wood[3].

Plywood has many advantages over other building materials including:

  • No natural split line due to its cross-graining
  • Reduced tendency to split when nailed at the edges
  • Less expansion and shrinkage
  • Better dimensional stability
  • High strength and stiffness to weight ratio
  • Resistance to concentrated loads
  • High resilience and impact resistance
  • Good thermal insulator
  • Reflects sound so can enhance acoustics or deflect traffic noise
  • Performs well when exposed to chemicals and has low vapour permeance
  • Easy to work with and machine
  • Appearance grade plywood is aesthetically pleasing

Plywood is commonly used in both residential and commercial construction due to its many attractive qualities. Plywood is mostly used for walls and ceilings, but can also be specified for cladding, flooring or furniture. There are a number of plywood variants on the market, each with their own distinct purposes.

Matilda Veneer offers a range of plywood products including Lite Ply, Fireply and Hoop Pine Plywood. The company is one of the few manufacturers of appearance-grade Hoop Pine plywood in the world. This plywood product can give a modern finish to almost any space.

Lite Ply is a unique, appearance-grade lightweight plywood ideal for use in projects where weight or cost are key considerations.

Fireply is a lightweight, fire-retardant plywood ideal for interior cladding applications in commercial and residential buildings where the highest fire resistance is required.

Consult with Matilda Veneer if you are considering plywood for your next project.


[1] http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/ply_1

[2] http://www.ewp.asn.au/library/downloads/ewpaa_plywood_manufacture.pdf

[3] http://www.ewp.asn.au/library/downloads/ewpaa_plywood_manufacture.pdf