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How to Waterproof Plywood

construction worker holding plywood

Plywood is used in nearly every aspect of commercial and residential construction. It consists of wood veneer panels that are bonded together to create a single flat sheet. This makes it a highly versatile material because it is easy to cut, bend, and shape to fit your construction needs for indoor and outdoor projects. 

It has a high strength to weight ratio, which makes it cost-effective. Plywood also has increased impact resistance and stability due to its laminate structure and the natural strength of the parent wood.  

However, it does have one drawback. Plywood is not weatherproof, so it is susceptible to mold, rot, warping, and peeling if exposed to moisture. Water-damaged plywood can compromise the structural integrity of your projects, rendering them unsafe and visually unappealing. 

While some types of plywood come with a limited water-resistant coating, excessive and prolonged water exposure can still damage the wood. Whether you are using plywood for indoor or outdoor construction projects, there is a way to waterproof your plywood and increase the material’s stability and longevity.

Durabak Wood Paint

Although there are various ways to waterproof plywood, none are as effective or as simple to apply as Durabak. Unlike other waterproof coatings, Durabak doesn’t just remain on the surface of the plywood. As the plywood is porous, the laminate fibers absorb the Durabak paint to create an extremely durable wood-polyethylene alloy.

Once the desired number of coats are applied, the Durabak paint hardens and cures to create an impenetrable membrane that protects the plywood from the inside out without compromising the material’s flexibility and convenience. 

How to Waterproof Plywood with Durabak

painting to waterproof plywood

Applying Durabak to plywood is simple. With minimal preparation, you can quickly and easily create a long-lasting, durable coating for your plywood projects. 

  1. Prepare the surface of the plywood by roughening with 60 grit sandpaper. Then, wipe down with xylene solvent applied to a clean cloth. Do not use water or detergent to clean your plywood.

  2. Once the solvent has completely evaporated, and the plywood is dry, open your can of Durabak and stir well. Durabak begins to dry and cure as soon as it is exposed to air. Keep the lid on the can until you are ready to use it and during the application.

  3. Pour a small amount into a rolling tray and use a stipple roller brush to paint the first coat of Durabak onto the plywood. You may need to use a paintbrush for hard to reach areas, corners, and fine edges. 

  4. Allow the first coat of Durabak to dry and cure for at least 2 hours before applying the second coat. Once you have applied your desired number of coats, leave the plywood to cure for 24 hours before walking on the surface - if you are waterproofing plywood flooring - or up to 6 days if the material is intended for heavy use. 
Pro Tips for Waterproofing Plywood with Durabak

Choose the Right Durabak Sealant
Similarly to plywood, Durbak comes in indoor and outdoor varieties. Outdoor Durabak 18 contains enhanced UV resistance to prevent fading and peeling. It is recommended you use outdoor Durabak for any projects that will be used outside or exposed to harsh weather conditions. 

Select Your Color
Durabak also comes in a wide range of colors from muted neutrals and camo shades to bold primary hues. If you can’t find the color you need, you can mix Durabak colors to achieve a custom shade or use a non-water based pigment to tint the paint in a hue of your choice. You can order paint chip samples online.

Do You Need Slip Resistance?
All Durabak products come in textured and smooth variants. Textured Durabak is ideal for areas that need the increased safety that a non-skid surface provides, such as flooring and plywood marine decks

However, to achieve the best results, experts recommend applying a base coat of smooth Durabak before finishing with two coats of textured paint. This allows the Durabak to soak into the plywood more effectively without the rubber granules in the textured paint, preventing absorption. 

Get the Right Coverage
Each gallon of smooth Durabak covers approximately 75-80 square feet with an application of two coats, while textured Durabak can cover around 60 feet per gallon. However, experts suggest you apply 3 coats of Durabak to a plywood surface to account for the absorption of the wood fibers and achieve the best finish. 

If your first base coat of Durabak appears patchy after drying, this is normal. The appearance is due to the different rates of absorption in different areas of the wood. The paint finish evens out with subsequent applications.

Let it Cure
To obtain the greatest durability from your Durabak waterproof coating, it is vital to let the paint cure before using. Using uncured plywood for construction may lead to cracks in the paint, which could allow moisture in. Plan your project to account for the 5-6 day curing time for a tough, long-lasting waterproof finish.

Use Durabak for Long-Lasting Plywood Weatherproofing

Trusted by the US Navy and construction industry, Durabak is the best waterproofing paint on the market. It is easy to apply and results in a tough, durable coating that strengthens and protects plywood from the inside out. 

Call Durabak at (303) 690-7190 or fill out our online form to request a callback and learn more about waterproofing with Durabak.

Durabak Plywood Paint Products


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