If you’re building anything made out of wood, you’ll likely need to cover it with plywood. This material is made from thin layers of wood that are glued together. But before you head to the store, you should know the standard plywood sheet sizes.
What Is Plywood?
Plywood is not a specific type of wood, but rather a category of material made from thin layers of wood glued together to form long sheets. The grain of each layer is rotated 90 degrees to improve strength, reduce shrinkage, and prevent the wood from splitting. Sub-categories include MDF, OSB, and particle board.
In addition to being sturdy, plywood is also heavy. It weighs about 2.5 lbs per square foot, meaning a standard 4×8 sheet weighs 80 lbs. Of course, it’s also highly absorbent, so this weight will increase if the board gets saturated. Read on to learn about the standard plywood sheet sizes and types you can buy.
Types of Plywood
There are many uses for plywood products. From woodworking to roof joists, this material serves many purposes. Plywood is usually found in two types: hardwood and softwood.
This is made from Alder, Ash, Beech, Birch, Bamboo, Cherry, Mahogany, Maple, and other hardwood trees. Hardwood is used for carpentry projects like cabinetry, making furniture, and other decorative applications.
Sheets are usually sanded to make a smooth surface and can be stained or painted. Many times, cabinets or furniture are made from hardwood plywood have unfinished surfaces and are finished after the pieces are made.
Made from Pine, Cedar, Douglas Fir, Spruce, and other softwood trees, this material is used for roofing, subfloors, walls, sheathing, and other generic applications. Sheets often have a rough surface and serve as the base for another material like OSB siding.
Common Plywood Sheet Sizes
Hardwood Plywood comes in many lengths and widths, but the two most common sizes are 4 x 8 and 5 x 5 feet. Standard sheets are 1/2 inch thick, while non-standard thicknesses range from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inches.
In addition to these standard sizes, home improvement stores like Home Depot carry pre-cut panels in various other sizes including 2 by 2, 2 by 4, and 4 by 4 feet.
Softwood plywood is commonly found in sheets 4 feet wide, 8 feet long, and 3/4 inch thick. Some stores even sell oversized sheets up to 6 feet wide. Keep in mind that the bigger sizes are less expensive, so it’s often cheaper to buy one 4 x 8 sheet than it is to buy 2 smaller pieces.
Plywood’s Actual Thickness
Although standard plywood sheet sizes range from 1/4 to 3/4 inch thicknesses, it’s actually slightly thinner. This is because after it’s manufactured, plywood shrinks as it dries. In fact, all wood expands as it gets wet and shrinks as it dries.
Remember, plywood is made from many layers of thin wooden sheets. And the top layer needs to be sanded after the sheet is made. During this process, 1/32 inches is typically removed from each sheet.
While this varies by type, utility-grade sheets have a tolerance of 1/32 inches and cabinet-grade sheets have a tolerance of 1/64 inches. This means that higher-grade plywood is held to a higher standard than lower-grade material.
So, when you are buying a standard utility-grade sheet, the actual size will be as follows:
- 1/8 inch = 7/64 inches
- 1/4 inch = 7/32 inches
- 3/7 inch = 11/32 inches
- 1/2 inch = 15/32 inches
- 5/8 inch = 19/32 inches
- 3/4 inch = 23/32 inches
Whether you are buying wood for cabinets or a roof, you’ll need to understand the various plywood sheet sizes available to you. Knowing this can save you time and money. Just remember, this product comes in many different grades and sizes, so do your research to know which one is the best fit for your project.
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