Marine plywood is not just any ordinary wood; it’s the superhero of the plywood world.

It can withstand the merciless attacks of water, salt, and other environmental factors while staying strong and durable like it’s just come out of the factory.

Marine plywood is the ultimate warrior that can brave the toughest marine environments and come out victorious.

Every type of marine plywood grade is unique and the grades given to it dictate its level of quality and performance. Knowing these grades is critical when beginning any maritime project, as it will directly affect the outcome.

This article contains the secrets of marine plywood grades to help out individuals who may be new to this topic.

We’ll discuss its types, properties, benefits, and drawbacks. By the end of it, you should have a good understanding of marine plywood grades.

What is Marine Plywood?

marine plywood grades

Marine plywood is a type of plywood that is specifically designed for use in marine environments – where moisture and humidity levels are high.

It is made from high-quality wood veneers that are bonded together with waterproof adhesive making it highly resistant to moisture. Here are some key features of marine plywood:

  • Marine plywood is known for its exceptional strength and durability. This material is suitable for boatbuilding and other structural uses due to its capacity to handle heavy loads & high impact forces. Plywood of this grade is incredibly robust and tough and can stand the test of time, no matter what it is used for.
  • Marine plywood is perfect for outdoor applications as it can tolerate the effects of moisture. Its waterproof adhesive and high-quality veneers make it robust and durable thus providing lasting protection against snow, rain, and other forms of wetness.
  • Marine plywood is designed to stay dimensionally stable, thus reducing the risk of warping, shrinking, or twisting with age. That’s why it’s such a great choice for applications where stability and durability are key factors.
  • Despite being exposed to water for lengthy periods, the plywood maintains its structural integrity.
  • This material is extremely versatile & suitable for both exterior and interior use.

Marine plywood is the top-of-the-line choice when it comes to plywood available in the industry; known for its remarkable strength, durability, and moisture resistance.

It is a favorite of many due to its impressive qualities. Hence it is often used in applications where the wood will be exposed to harsh environments such as boats, docks, and outdoor structures. 

Types of Marine Plywood

A range of marine plywood is readily accessible in the market with distinctive characteristics and applications. Here, we will explore the most common varieties of marine plywood and its properties.

1. Okoume Marine Plywood

Okoume marine plywood is one of the most popular types of marine plywood. It is lightweight plywood with a tight grain and uniform texture.

The marine plywood is highly resistant to moisture and decay hence ideal for boat building and projects that would be used in extreme environments.

2. Meranti Marine Plywood

Meranti marine plywood is a strong and sturdy material, with no visible gaps or patches. Having 30% more weight than Okoume, this plywood is ideal for boat construction and marine applications due to its moderate density.

Moreover, it has anti-rot and anti-mildew properties.

3. Maple Marine Plywood

Maple marine plywood is an excellent choice for marine applications due to its high resistance to water and decay. The engineered wood is a popular choice for those who anticipate their product to be around dampness.

When selecting marine maple plywood, ensure that it meets industry standards such as BS 1088.

4. Douglas Fir Marine Plywood

Douglas fir marine plywood is a high-quality plywood with excellent strength and stiffness.

It is an outstanding choice for marine applications as it offers superior weather resistance. There may be a maximum of five spots requiring patching or repairs but no voids should be present.

5. Sapele Marine Plywood

Sapele marine plywood is another type of marine plywood that has gaining popularity in recent years.

Sapele is a West African hardwood that is known for its reddish-brown color and interlocking and sometimes wavy grain pattern.

The board is heavier and much sturdier than most other panels owing to its increased density.

6. Eucalyptus Marine Plywood

Eucalyptus plywood is highly resistant to moisture. It is moderately priced and falls in the middle range in terms of density and strength.

You can enjoy the lovely Eucalyptus look with this material.

Marine Plywood vs Ordinary Plywood

Marine plywood and regular plywood are both types of engineered wood products commonly used in construction and woodworking. While they may appear similar, there are significant differences in their properties and uses.

Resistance To Moisture:

When comparing marine plywood and regular plywood, many key differences set them apart.

While both plywood types are made from thin layers of wood veneer that are glued together, marine plywood is specifically designed for use in harsh marine environments where it will be exposed to moisture and other elements that can quickly degrade regular plywood.

Quality of Face Veneers:

One of the main differences between marine plywood and plywood is the quality of the face veneers.

Marine plywood is made using top-notch face veneers with little to no patches compared to standard plywood which might have sporadic patches depending on its grade.

The high-quality face veneers of marine plywood ensure a smooth and consistent surface that is essential for achieving a professional finish.

Interior Voids:

Another key difference is the presence of interior voids. Marine plywood has very few voids which ensure its structural integrity and prevents warping or twisting over time.

In contrast, regular plywood can contain voids in its face veneer and can be quite noticeable.

Strength & Stability:

Marine plywood is known for its superior strength and stability owing to the fact that it consists of layers of equal thickness.

Regular plywood plies can vary in thickness and the face veneers can be especially thin.

Additionally, marine plywood stands out from regular plywood due to the utilization of waterproof adhesive. Whereas, regular plywood may sometimes be produced without using waterproof adhesive.

If a material needs to be able to withstand the rough environment outdoors, regular plywood might not be the best option.

Marine plywood, however, offers superior performance and is the ideal choice for these kinds of applications. Its high-quality face veneers, lack of interior voids, equal thickness plies, and waterproof glue all contribute to its exceptional strength and durability in marine environments.

Marine Plywood Grading Standards

Marine plywood grading refers to the system used to rate and classify marine plywood based on the quality and characteristics of its veneers and core.

When it comes to marine plywood grades, grading standards have been established to ensure the quality and performance of the plywood.

Organizations like The Engineered Wood Association (APA) have set the standards for grading marine plywood.

Marine plywood has to fulfill certain criteria to guarantee its quality and resilience. The grading standards that have been defined globally include:

1. BS 1088 Marine Plywood

BS 1088 is a British Standard of marine plywood. Widely used worldwide, it defines precise criteria for evaluating the veneers, adhesive, and bonding qualities of the plywood so that it can handle exposure to marine environments.

Some of the key features of BS 1088 marine plywood are:

  • Face veneers must be free from knots and other defects
  • Core veneers are made from high-quality timber but slits and pin knots are allowed
  • The plywood’s moisture content should stay in the range of 6-14% after production is done in the factory
  • WBP (water and boil proof) adhesive is used for bonding the layers of plywood
  • The plywood will have its surfaces sanded evenly on both sides

2. BS 6566 Marine Plywood

This is a less stringent British Standard for marine plywood. It is similar to BS 1088 in terms of its requirements for adhesive and bonding but it allows for some defects in the veneers.

Some of the key features of BS 6566 marine plywood include:

  • Typically, face veneer options come with a lower grade and thinner build compared to BS 1088
  • WBP (water and boil proof) adhesive is used for bonding the layers of plywood
  • Limited defects allowed in the core veneers

3. AS/NZS 2272 Marine Plywood

AS/NZS 2272 is an Australian and New Zealand standard for marine plywood. The Joint Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand Committee developed this Standard.

Some of the key features of AS/NZS 2272 marine plywood include:

  • The face veneers will conform to OO and AA standards, with the stress grade specified as F14
  • Permitted imperfections on core veneers include filled holes, pin knots, worm and insect holes, splits, and end joints.
  • Type-A phenolic adhesive is used for bonding the layers of plywood

Marine plywood gradings standards such as BS 1088, BS 6566, and AS/NZS 2272 are essential for ensuring that the plywood is of high quality.

While there are other grading standards for marine plywood, BS 1088 is considered to be the gold standard in the industry.

Many manufacturers produce marine plywood according to this standard, ensuring that it is suitable for use in a wide range of marine applications.

Factors Considered When Grading Marine Plywood

To be certified as marine plywood grades, plywood must meet certain standards that are set out by the industry. These criteria help ensure that this form of plywood is durable enough for use in marine environments:

1. Face Veneer Quality:

The face veneer is the outermost layer of the plywood and it is the most visible part. The quality of the face veneer is an essential factor in grading marine plywood.

A high-grade face veneer must have minimal knots, splits, and patches while being free from cracks and voids.

2. Core Veneer Quality:

The core veneer is the layer of plywood sandwiched between the face veneers. The quality of the core veneer is equally important in grading marine plywood.

The core veneer should be made from high-quality wood species and should be free from defects. The core veneer should also be free from voids that can compromise the strength and integrity of the plywood.

3. Thickness:

The range of thickness for marine plywood is usually between 4mm to 25mm. As the layer of veneer becomes thicker, the cost goes up due to the amount of extra material involved; therefore, you can anticipate a higher price for thicker variants of the material.

4. Glue Bond:

The glue used in marine plywood is held to a high standard of testing. It must be able to remain durable after being subjected to boiling water for extended periods without falling apart. As such, marine plywood assembled using this glue is built to last.

5. Voids Must be Avoided:

Marine-grade plywood must be void-free because these voids weaken the structure and provide an easy way for water to enter. Voids on wood cause significant damage to furniture and structures.

5 Marine Plywood Grades

1. A-A Marine Grade Plywood

A-A marine grade plywood is the most premium type of plywood in the industry.

It’s made from only top-quality hardwood veneers free of any knots or imperfections and both sides are evened out with sanding to give it a consistent finish. Normally, it is half an inch thick.

2. A-B Marine Grade Plywood

This product is significantly thicker than A-A, with a thickness of ¾ inch, and can therefore be considered very reliable.

Furthermore, the front side is A-grade with no defects while the backside is B-grade and could showcase knots or patches.

A-B marine grade plywood is less expensive than A-A grade but still provides excellent water resistance and durability.

3. B-B Marine Grade Plywood

This type of marine plywood is very common and follows a face-back construction format. Any knots that may be visible are filled in so there will be no holes present.

4. MDO Marine Grade Plywood

MDO stands for Medium-Density Overlay which refers to a special resin fiber overlay applied to the surface of the plywood.

This overlay gives MDO marine-grade plywood excellent weather resistance and durability.

It is suitable for applications where a smooth surface and a painted finish are required. It is exceptionally resistant to scratches as well as chemical spills and can withstand various weather conditions.

5. HDO Marine Grade Plywood

HDO stands for High-Density Overlay and is a superior resin-impregnated fiber overlay. It is also called steel-form plywood.

HDO marine-grade plywood is stronger, denser, and more weather-resistant than MDO. It is suitable for applications like boat building due to its industrial-grade design.

What is Marine Plywood Used For?

Marine plywood is an ideal choice for outdoor and high water-exposure applications. Its reliable construction is specially designed to tolerate extreme conditions like snow and heavy downpours. Common uses of this type of plywood include:

1. Boat Building

Marine plywood is the material of choice for boat building considering its superior strength, durability, and resistance to humidity and decay.

These attributes make it a perfect selection for any sort of vessel in the water.

2. Dock Construction

Also commonly used for building docks and other structures that are constantly exposed to water.

Its water-resistant characteristics protect it from rotting and decaying thereby extending the structure’s lifespan.

3. Patio Furniture & Outdoor Structures:

Marine plywood is a remarkable pick for exterior projects like sheds and outdoor furniture.

Its unrivaled strength and moisture-repellent capabilities make it a reliable material that can provide lasting protection for a long time.

4. Kayaks & Canoes:

Kayaks and canoes made with plywood are highly advantageous because of their high strength-to-weight ratio. This engineered wood type is exceptionally lightweight yet it supports a great deal of weight.

5. Bathrooms

If you’re concerned about any water damage in your bathroom, marine plywood safeguards it from mold and moisture. It provides protection and minimizes any potential damage resulting from water-related issues.

6. Kitchens

Cooking can produce a lot of steam which is especially damaging to wood over time. To protect your cabinets and floors from this, marine plywood is specifically designed to be resistant to moisture while still providing you with the aesthetic of new wood.

Marine plywood will ensure that your cabinets and floor remain in their pristine condition for many years to come.

7. Pool Decks:

Marine plywood is popular for constructing pool decks because it is resistant to water and can handle heavy foot traffic. It can be used for decking, railings, and other structural components.

8. Garden Furniture

It is highly suitable for making furniture like tables and benches for outdoor use.

9. Arbors

It makes for a fantastic building material when creating garden features such as arbors, trellises, and other structures.

10. Planters

Marine-grade plywood is a great choice to make garden structures like raised beds and planter boxes that can withstand bad weather and give you years of service.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Marine Plywood

This engineered wood is well-known for its amazing performance in external and wet settings.

Nevertheless, it does have some benefits and drawbacks that you should be aware of.

In the following section, let’s explore the good and bad points of utilizing marine plywood.

Advantages of Marine Plywood

  • Good Strength & Durability

It is stronger and more durable than standard varieties, offering long-term reliability without warping or cracking.

Marine plywood is a specialized variant that has been built to withstand the toughest of weather conditions and movements.

  • Resistance To Moisture

Marine plywood is the ideal choice if you want high-quality wood suited for outdoor projects and anything that requires frequent contact with water.

It’s specially designed to be moisture resistant so you know you’re getting something that can handle any kind of water challenge.

  • Versatility

The plywood is used in a variety of applications; from boatbuilding to furniture making. It can be easily cut and shaped to fit any project.

  • Can Withstand Harsh Marine Environments

Due to its unique properties and manufacturing process, it withstands harsh marine environments. It is highly resistant to moisture, decay, and fungal attack.

  • Good Quality Bonding

Marine plywood is highly regarded for its superior stability and durability which is due to the usage of high-grade glue in binding the veneer layers. It is exceptional for applications requiring long-term use.

Disadvantages of Marine Plywood

  • Cost

Marine plywood is more expensive than regular plywood due to its high-quality manufacturing process and superior properties.

  • Weight

As compared to regular plywood, this type is heavier and denser, thereby making it somewhat hard to handle or transport.

  • Not Rot-Resistant

Marine plywood that is not chemically treated is not naturally resistant to rotting and will decay quickly over time.


  • Use marine plywood in high-moisture or water-exposed applications such as boatbuilding and dock construction.
  • If the project you’re working on needs to be sturdy yet isn’t exposed to moisture, a great choice would be opting for alternative wood material.
  • When working on a budget, use regular plywood for non-critical applications or use marine plywood only where it is essential.

Key Takeaways

  • Marine plywood is a special kind of plywood specifically created for use in hostile, damp, and humid environments. It offers superior protection from water damage due to its waterproof and durable nature.
  • Marine plywood is available in five grades – A-A, A-B, B-B, MDO, and HDO. Each grade has a unique set of features that makes them suitable for different types of applications.
  • When choosing marine plywood, consider factors such as face veneer quality, core veneer quality, and thickness.
  • Marine plywood has several advantages including strength, durability, and resistance to moisture. However, it also has some disadvantages such as cost and weight.
  • When deciding whether to use marine plywood or regular plywood, consider the specific needs of the application and choose the appropriate type of plywood accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are 5 grades of marine plywood which are A-A, A-B, B-B, MDO, and HDO.

For those looking for the best quality plywood, an A-grade is typically recommended.

Marine plywood is often considered the strongest plywood due to its high-quality face and core veneers, waterproof glue, and ability to withstand harsh marine environments.

The individual layers of marine plywood are held together securely by high-grade glues, which make the material structurally sound.

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