Does Plywood Expand? Plywood Material Explained

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If you have ever asked yourself does plywood expand, then this article will answer all your questions! The word plywood is derived from two words, “plies” and “wood.” Plywood is made up of thin sheets of wood that are arranged in layers to form a sheet with the desired thickness. The most common type of plywood consists of three plies or layers, but four-layer plywood is also available. Many different types of woods are used to make plywood, including oak, birch, maple, mahogany, and pine.

What is Plywood?

Plywood is a widely used material composed of three thin layers of wood that are glued together with a resin adhesive. While the outer layers are typically made from softwood. The center ply is usually crafted using hardwood to add strength and stability to the panel.

Depending on the intended application, plywood can be made with various thicknesses and grades for use in furniture, flooring, wall cladding, roofing, and many other applications where a strong, sturdy material is needed. This makes it an invaluable product for do-it-yourselfers, builders, and general contractors alike.

Plywood Materials

veneer sheet

Plywood can be made from either hard or softwoods. Hardwoods are more durable and hold up better against swings in humidity, while softwoods tend to warp faster but are less expensive. Softwoods include pines, cedar, fir, spruce, and hemlock, whereas the most popular hardwood used for plywood is oak. However, other types of hardwood could also be used, including maple and birch mahogany, and walnut. Although all these different types of plywood have their own unique characteristics, they do share some common properties overall when it comes to moisture.

Know More: Check How Can You Plane Plywood

How does Plywood Made?

Plywood is made by pressing together layers of wood veneer with either end grain to the outer surface (face ply) or, more commonly, cross-grain (cross-ply). The denser and smoother the glue lines are between plies, the harder and stronger the resulting sheet will be. Good quality plywood has a very smooth finish on both sides that can be used for painting without sanding, making it perfect

plywood making process

for most projects, including cabinets. If you want an even better-finished paint job, consider using cabinet-grade hardwoods like maple. They tend to have fewer voids in their material than standard residential grades of oak, making them much easier to paint over or stain if desired!

Know More: How to Cut a Square Hole in Plywood

Does Plywood Expand?

Yes and no. It really depends on what type of plywood you’re talking about, as well as the environment it is in. Hardwoods do expand and contract with changes in humidity, while softwood tends to warp, which can result in great gaps or cracks that ruin your paint job! If this happens, try using a moisture meter such as an Indicator Moisture Meter. This handy tool will tell you instantly if there is too much moisture present, so all you need to do is add some drying agent like silica gel packs, place them inside the cabinet and wait for them to work their magic before painting over the top again!

Know More: Learn How to Flatten Warped Plywood | 9 Best ways

Should You Keep Room for Expanding Plywood?

plywood measuring

Most of the time, you won’t need to worry about room for expansion. The amount of space needed is usually small enough that there would be no noticeable effects even if it did happen. If you are using plywood in a place where changes in humidity can cause damage, like outside on your deck or around an outdoor pool, keep some room between each board and any other surfaces so they can expand if necessary.

How to Stop Plywood Expand?

The easiest way to stop plywood from expanding is to store it somewhere with little humidity where there is no chance for expansion. If you are using the plywood in a project that can’t be moved during construction, like building cabinets, then use weather stripping or silicone caulk along all edges of your cabinet, including faces and backsides, before nailing them into place! This will help reduce the number of gaps between each board, keeping moisture out while also holding everything together nicely. Use good quality edge banding for protecting the edge of the plywood. And always keep plywood away from direct contact with concrete flooring as it can absorb moisture and cause warping.

Know More: Learn How to Flatten Warped Plywood | 9 Best ways

What Happens When Plywood Is Exposed to Extreme Heat?

Plywood is an incredibly versatile material and is found in a variety of applications. This ranges from construction projects to crafts. However, when exposed to extreme heat higher than 200°F, plywood undergoes a surprising level of decomposition. 

This thermal decomposition process breaks down the chemical bonds within the wood and produces gases that cause permanent damage to the strength of the plywood.

This means that if exposed to too much heat, plywood can become less stable and unsuitable for use where strength would be paramount.

Does Plywood Have Movement?

Plywood is a well-known material used in construction and carpentry because it is strong and affordable. It can also be cut into various sizes depending on the application. Despite its versatility, plywood has very limited movement capabilities. 

It does not bend easily or resist compressive force very well as other woods do. As such, it is best used for purposes where little movement or compression is necessary.

Plywood’s stiffness also means that moisture absorption won’t cause changes in size or shape. It’s a good choice for outdoor applications where rain and extreme temperatures are a concern.

Does Plywood Swell When It’s Wet?

Ever left your plywood open on a rainy day? If so, it is no surprise that you may have found it swollen in size when you returned. Plywood only expands when exposed to moisture. Although the swelling typically stops after the wood has dried out again.

This swell will weaken the structural integrity of the plywood and subsequently reduce its strength until it is dry. It’s therefore important to protect your plywood. Majorly from any excess water or moisture exposure to keep its shape and sturdiness intact.

Does Layering Plywood Make It Stronger?

Layering plywood can absolutely make it stronger. Adding more layers of wood can increase the strength and stiffness of plywood, allowing it to hold more weight and be more resistant to impacts. 

The structure of multiple layers helps evenly distribute the forces applied to the surface rather than concentrating them on a particular point. This makes it an ideal material for projects where stability and reliability are important. Projects may include furniture or building structures.

Additionally, layering is not a complex process. It’s relatively easy to acquire plywood that has been laminated or bonded together in various thicknesses.


I hope this article answers any questions you had about plywood and its properties. Let me know if I missed anything important in the comments section below!

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