What different grades are available? what’s the cost? how do you compare brands? is plywood right for you?

Keep reading this article to find out everything you need to know before you buy plywood for your home.

What’s Plywood? How’s it manufactured?

Plywood is a engineered wood material, where thin layers or “plies” of wood veneer are glued together.

Chemically it is a composite with 2 main materials – wood veneer, and binding resin.

Manufacturing is a simple 3 step process

  • Peeling Wood Veneers
  • Applying glue
  • Pressurizing the sheets together to form a composite.

There are so many grades, what’s the difference?

According to Indian Standards Body, there are following grades of plywood:

  • Commercial Moisture Resistant Plywood – IS:303
  • Waterproof Boiling Water Resistant Plywood – IS:710
  • Marine Plywood – IS:710
  • Flexible Plywood – IS:303
  • Fire Retardant Plywood – IS:5509-1980
  • Film Faced Shuttering Plywood – IS:4990
  • Structure Plywood/ Architectural Plywood. – IS:10701

Each one of these plywood has different quality, different glue which has been used, and different orientation of the sheets to maximize strength and water resistance.

The Table below represents the use case each one is developed for:

Plywood GradeUses
Commercial MR Grade for InteriorInterior Use only. Used in home & office furniture.
Waterproof BWR for Exterior Exterior grade, used for indoor, semi-outdoor and outdoor use.
Marine PlywoodUsed in Exteriors, sun decks, making ships which constant in contact with moisture.
Flexible Plywood Used in an enclosure of a building column.
Fire Retardant PlywoodUsed commonly in public places,public theaters and halls, kitchens of large restaurants, homes, offices, car interiors and the wood used in the railway compartments of our trains
Film Faced Shuttering PlywoodConstruction,heavy commercial Vehicle and truck Bodies, Roofing, Repair and Maintenance of Buildings, Bridges, building, metro rail track projects, lofts, Beams, Fly-overs, water tanks, cooling towers, flyovers and mezzanine floors.
Structure Plywood / Architectural PlywoodIt is popular exterior and interior cladding, as a flooring for sport complex etc

So, here’s the thing, what you’ve to be aware of is for consumers, and home owners, the grades which are important are: Waterproof Boiling water resistant plywood, and commercial MR grade plywood.

In certain cases, fire retardant plywood can also be used, but apart from that, other plywood’s are just for structures.

How much do they cost?

Independent of the brand you buy from, look for the IS mark, and below table gives you approx prices which plywood is sold at.

Plywood GradeApprox Cost Per SqFt
Commercial MR Grade for Interior ₹36/SqFt for 4mm
Waterproof BWR for Exterior ₹42/SqFt for 4mm
Marine Plywood ₹44.50/SqFt for 4mm
Flexible Plywood ₹40/SqFt for 4mm
Fire Retardant Plywood ₹45/SqFt for 4mm
Film Faced Shuttering Plywood ₹60/SqFt for 4mm
Structure Plywood / Architectural Plywood ₹128/SqFt for 19mm

Here’s the thing, these prices are typically what dealers will have to purchase from manufacturers at, therefore expect them to have a margin on top of this. But, this gives you a basic idea of how much it costs, and what you should expect to pay for.

Wait, what about termites?

Plywood manufactures, if they do a good job, and manufacture as per standards (this is why always suggest to buy certified plywood) give a 7 years to lifetime warranty. Termite and pest treatment is given at the manufacturing stage itself. Problem is, manufacturers skimp this, don’t get certified and don’t treat the plywood to save costs. So please make sure you purchase certified, ISO marked plywood itself, even if it costs more.

There is one more thing to keep in mind, even if the plywood warranty is available, if termites for whatever reason start forming, manufacturers will replace your plywood, but you’ll have to bear the carpentry costs. Please keep this important factor in mind as well.

Plywood Causing Cancer?

Resin used in plywood (lower grades like commercial grade) contains material which has been linked to causing cancer. The carpenter working on the wood needs to wear a mask, a normal consumer is not under the harm. Problem happens only when saw dust is inhaled. Make sure your carpenter wears a mask.