Which plywood is suitable for outdoor use?

When it comes to outdoor projects, whether it’s building a deck, constructing a shed, or creating outdoor furniture, the choice of plywood can make a significant difference in the durability and longevity of your project. Not all plywood is created equal, and selecting the wrong type can lead to premature deterioration, warping, and other issues. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different types of plywood suitable for outdoor use, their characteristics, and how to make an informed decision.

Understanding Plywood Grades and Types 

Before delving into the specifics of outdoor-grade plywood, it’s essential to understand the grading system and types of plywood available in the market.

1.1 Plywood Grades 

Plywood is graded based on the quality of the veneer layers used in its construction. The most common grades are:

  • N: This grade is suitable for non-structural applications, such as concrete formwork or backing for non-critical surfaces.

  • A: This grade features a smooth, high-quality veneer face and is suitable for most interior applications where appearance is important.

  • B: The B grade has a solid surface veneer and is often used for cabinet interiors, shelving, and other non-decorative applications.

  • X: This is the highest grade for exterior or exposure applications, featuring water-resistant adhesives and high-quality veneers.

1.2 Types of Plywood

Plywood is available in various types, each suitable for different applications. The most common types include:

  • Softwood Plywood: Made from woods like pine, fir, or cedar, softwood plywood is lightweight and less expensive but may not be as durable as hardwood options.

  • Hardwood Plywood: Constructed from hardwood veneers like oak, maple, or birch, hardwood plywood is more robust and resistant to wear and tear.

  • Marine Plywood: Specifically designed for outdoor and marine applications, marine plywood features high-quality veneers and water-resistant adhesives, making it ideal for outdoor projects.

  • Pressure-Treated Plywood: This type of plywood is treated with preservatives to resist moisture, rot, and insect damage, enhancing its durability for outdoor use.

Choosing the Right Plywood for Outdoor Projects 

When selecting plywood for outdoor projects, there are several factors to consider to ensure the longevity and performance of your project.

2.1 Exposure Levels

The level of exposure to the elements will play a crucial role in determining the right type of plywood. Consider the following exposure levels:

  • Exterior: For projects that will be exposed to direct sunlight, rain, and harsh weather conditions, such as outdoor furniture or decking, marine-grade or pressure-treated plywood is recommended.

  • Partial Exposure: For projects like covered patios, overhangs, or soffits, where the plywood is partially exposed to the elements, exterior-grade plywood with water-resistant adhesives should be used.

  • Interior: For indoor projects or areas with minimal exposure to moisture, standard interior-grade plywood may suffice.

2.2 Moisture Resistance

Outdoor projects are susceptible to moisture, which can lead to warping, delamination, and rot. Look for plywood with water-resistant adhesives and treatments that can withstand exposure to moisture.

2.3 Durability and Strength

For outdoor projects that will bear significant weight or stress, consider hardwood plywood or marine-grade plywood with higher strength and durability. These types of plywood can better withstand the elements and potential wear and tear.

2.4 Cost and Availability

While marine-grade and pressure-treated plywood may be more expensive, they offer superior performance and longevity for outdoor projects. However, if you’re on a tight budget or have a less demanding application, exterior-grade softwood plywood can be a more cost-effective option. Additionally, consider the availability of plywood types in your local area, as some specialty grades may need to be ordered.

Recommended Plywood Types for Outdoor Projects 

Based on the factors discussed above, here are some recommended plywood types for various outdoor projects:

3.1 Decking and Outdoor Flooring

Marine-grade plywood or pressure-treated plywood is ideal for decking and outdoor flooring applications due to their superior moisture resistance and durability.

3.2 Outdoor Furniture

For outdoor furniture, such as benches, tables, or chairs, marine-grade hardwood plywood or pressure-treated plywood are excellent choices, providing strength and longevity while withstanding exposure to the elements.

3.3 Sheds and Outdoor Structures

For sheds, playhouses, or other outdoor structures, exterior-grade softwood plywood or pressure-treated plywood can be used, depending on the level of exposure and durability required.

3.4 Fencing and Outdoor Siding 

For fencing or outdoor siding projects, pressure-treated plywood is a suitable option, offering resistance to moisture, rot, and insect damage.

Tips for Working with Outdoor Plywood 

To ensure the best results and maximize the lifespan of your outdoor plywood project, consider the following tips:

4.1 Proper Finishing and Sealing

Apply a high-quality exterior-grade paint, stain, or sealant to protect the plywood from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors. Ensure proper preparation and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

4.2 Ventilation and Drainage

Design your outdoor project to allow for proper ventilation and drainage to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to premature deterioration.

4.3 Periodic Maintenance

Inspect your outdoor plywood project regularly and address any signs of wear, damage, or deterioration promptly. Reapply finishes or sealants as needed to maintain protection.

4.4 Sourcing from Reputable Plywood Manufacturers

To ensure the quality and performance of your plywood, source it from reputable plywood manufacturers in Delhi NCR, such as MRS Woodcraft. These manufacturers often offer a wide range of plywood types and grades specifically designed for outdoor applications.

Plywood Types and Their Suitability for Outdoor Projects

Plywood Type

Suitability for Outdoor Projects

Recommended Applications



Decking, outdoor furniture, high exposure areas


Very Good

Fencing, outdoor structures, partial exposure areas

Exterior-Grade Hardwood


Outdoor furniture, partial exposure areas

Exterior-Grade Softwood


Sheds, outdoor structures, low exposure areas



Not recommended for outdoor use


Choosing the right plywood for outdoor projects is crucial for ensuring the durability and longevity of your investment. While marine-grade and pressure-treated plywood offer superior performance and resistance to the elements, exterior-grade hardwood or softwood plywood can also be suitable for specific applications with lower exposure levels. By considering factors such as exposure, moisture resistance, strength, and cost, you can make an informed decision that meets your project requirements. Additionally, sourcing plywood from reputable manufacturers in Delhi NCR and following proper finishing, ventilation, and maintenance practices will further extend the lifespan of your outdoor plywood projects.

Can I use regular interior-grade plywood for outdoor projects? 

No, interior-grade plywood is not suitable for outdoor use as it lacks the necessary moisture resistance and durability to withstand exposure to the elements. It is recommended to use exterior-grade, marine-grade, or pressure-treated plywood for outdoor projects.

Is pressure-treated plywood more expensive than regular exterior-grade plywood? 

Yes, pressure-treated plywood is generally more expensive than regular exterior-grade plywood because of the additional treatment process it undergoes to enhance its resistance to moisture, rot, and insect damage.

Can I use softwood plywood for outdoor furniture? 

While softwood plywood can be used for outdoor furniture, it may not be as durable and long-lasting as hardwood or marine-grade plywood. Softwood plywood is more susceptible to denting, scratching, and wearing down over time, especially in high-traffic areas.