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Marine Grade Plywood Guide: Suppliers, Protection & Alternatives

Marine plywood is manufactured from Douglas fir or Western Larch. It is often used to build boats, decks, and water-related structures. While it isn’t waterproof, it is superior quality and made with waterproof adhesive, giving it resistance to humid, damp, or wet conditions. These qualities make it a popular choice for building outdoor furniture and decking in coastal areas.

Plywood boat in water

Marine grade plywood gets much of its durability from the manufacturing process. It is made from strong face and core veneers and contains few defects. The WBP phenolic glues used to bind it are immersion and water tested, ensuring it can stand up to water exposure. 

No chemical treatment takes place in the production of marine grade plywood, meaning it isn’t rot-resistant. Being a lightweight wood, marine plywood can become damaged or worn over time. However, there are some ways to strengthen it.

Marine Plywood vs. Regular Plywood

Plywood is generally graded as A, B, C, or D in terms of quality. A is the highest quality, while D is the lowest. However, even the best-rated regular plywood doesn’t match the standard of marine grade wood or other hardwood plywood types. 

Regular plywood is made using a smaller number of thick layers of softwood, such as pine or Douglas fir. Because of this, the interior layers often have holes you may not see until the wood panel is cut. 

Marine plywood is a type of hardwood plywood. Genuine hardwood is made from thin layers of 100% hardwood, giving it more strength and firmness than softwood. It also has a finer grain. 

One of the critical differences between marine grade plywood and regular plywood is waterproof glue in the marine variant. This gives it superior resistance to high temperatures and moisture.

Plywood being loaded and moved

Grades and Sizes of Marine Plywood

There are five main grades of marine plywood. The criteria for assigning a wood grade is determined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The grading system allows buyers and sellers to understand and identify the quality and suitability of the wood they want to use. 

A-A Grade

The A-A grade represents the highest quality wood. The most common thickness is ½” marine grade plywood, which usually comes in 4’ x 8’ or 5’ x 12’ panels.

B-B Grade

Also known as face-back marine plywood, this grade permits jointed veneers, large knots, and plugs. It is one of the lowest-rated marine grade plywoods. 

A-B Grade

This is an industrial grade panel, suitable for various applications that require a high-quality face and back. It is a strong class of wood that contains no open knots. The most popular thickness is ¾” marine plywood, and it is normally sold in 4’ x 8’ panels. However, ¼” marine plywood panels are also quite common.

Medium-Density Overlay (MDO)

This is a multi-purpose, specialty plywood that’s manufactured with a thermosetting fiber overlay. It is intended for exterior use but works well indoors in areas exposed to high levels of moisture. MDO is resistant to wear and tear and weather and chemical damage.

It is generally sold in 4’ x 8’ panels of varying thickness, all the way to 1”.

High-Density Overlay (HDO)

HDO is also created with a thermosetting resin-saturated fiber surface. It is bonded to both sides under heat and pressure to give a very sturdy finish. It comes in an industrial grade and is generally sold in 4’ x 8’ panels of either ½” or ¾” thickness. 

Where to Buy: Marine Grade Plywood Suppliers

If you’re wondering where to buy marine grade plywood, it can be sourced from your local lumberyard or hardware store. Marine plywood suppliers also include some major national hardware and homeware stores such as:

Ensure you call all marine plywood suppliers to get the best possible price. Ask about the grade you need for your project and the size and thickness of the panels.

How to Strengthen and Protect Your Marine Grade Plywood Even More!

If you want to strengthen and protect your marine plywood, applying Durabak is an excellent method. It is a specially formulated polyurethane coating that adds durability. Used frequently by the US Navy, this is a product you can trust for any marine or outdoor project, providing a professional finish with lasting results.

Marine grade plywood can be painted, allowing it to blend with an existing color scheme. Durabak Marine Paint is the best option to coat your marine plywood. Not only is it available in 2 textures and more than 18 colors that can be mixed to create a custom shade, but it also adds to the quality of the wood. With its non-skid, protective qualities, Durabak offers excellent grip and helps prevent rust and corrosion.

It is easy to apply. All you have to do is roll it on using a traditional paint roller. This marine paint also bonds to aluminum, steel, fiberglass, and concrete, so you can use it for various purposes.

Durabak can also be used to create a marine plywood alternative. While standard plywood is a lot softer and less resistant than marine grade, it gains many marine plywood qualities when coated in Durabak. Learn how to waterproof plywood and create your very own marine plywood alternative using Durabak.

White Durabak Paint to Protect Plywood

Final Word

As a high-quality, engineered hardwood, marine grade plywood is suitable for building boats, decks, and marine structures. Because of its durability, it is a common material found in outdoor furniture and structures built near the coast. While it is known to be long-lasting, marine plywood can become damaged and worn without additional protection. 

Durabak is the perfect product to give marine plywood some added strength and protection. Durabak can improve the wood’s grip and overall toughness, giving your boat, deck, or other surfaces an enhanced texture. It can also transform regular plywood into a marine plywood alternative.

If you require further assistance on how Durabak can help with your DIY or commercial projects, contact us today at (303)-690-7190.

Image Attribution
https://pixabay.com/photos/timber-sheet-products-industry-wood-843063/
https://pixabay.com/photos/boat-bow-water-wooden-retro-919039/
https://pixabay.com/photos/repair-paint-cushion-home-repair-5004841/

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