Plywood vs Solid Wood: 5 Key Differences in Detail

Plywood vs Softwood

Solid wood and plywood are two of the most common and widely used types of wood. While solid wood refers to the original wood that we receive directly from trees, plywood is an engineered wood made by combining multiple thin layers of wood called veneer.

Both solid wood and plywood (plywood vs solid wood) are equally popular in terms of usability and strength. While natural wood, of course, beats plywood in many areas such as appearance and strength, plywood is considered the best inexpensive alternative to solid wood.

Why do we need Plywood?

You may be wondering why we need plywood in the first place when we already have solid wood. Well, there are many reasons to use plywood. First, solid wood is obtained from trees, which are limited in number. As the concentration of forests and trees is depleting, we need to find alternatives to natural wood.

Plywood is one of the strongest and most durable types of engineered woods. It is considered as strong and durable as solid wood but costs much less and is easily available. Moreover, plywoods come in different grades in terms of quality, so you can choose the right type based on your budget. Plywood can be used for almost all purposes where solid wood is used. Some examples include construction, furniture making, flooring, and others.

Plywood Vs Solid Wood

If you are looking for a low-cost alternative to real wood, plywood is the best option to consider. But before you go ahead, read about the basic differences between plywood and solid wood (plywood vs solid wood) to know which is best for your project.


Wood is one of the most attractive materials on earth and is hard to beat by any engineered material, including plywood. Though plywood is made to appear similar to solid wood, it does not come close to the beautiful appearance original wood can offer to a project. Because plywood is made by combining the layers of veneer, it is not very attractive to look at and it is generally polished or complemented by a laminated layer of Sunmica to achieve the desired look.


In terms of strength, solid wood beats plywood almost every time. It is stronger and more durable and is therefore suitable for practically every use.

Because plywood is not actually solid and is made by combining layers of wood using adhesive, it can break under considerable pressure and may also be susceptible to moisture. Solid wood is, however, very strong and not easy to break.

One should know that strong woods are not always right for all types of projects, especially carving and wood designing.


One of the areas where plywood surpasses solid wood is workability. Because plywood is not very hard, it is comparatively easier to work with. It is easy to cut, bend and mould. Cross grain in solid wood can often make it difficult to work with or cut the wood. Softwoods are, however, less dense and thus easier to work with than hardwoods.

Since plywood is made of veneer layers, it cannot be sanded and polished more than once or twice unlike solid wood which can be done again and again.


Plywood is used as a wood alternative in a range of projects, from furniture making to building, indoor uses and for making crates, bins and building structures.

Plywoods are available in different grades, with the highest grade plywood being the strongest and most durable. It is considered similar to solid wood and is used in furniture and boatbuilding. Marine-grade plywood is resistant to moisture and can be used in bathrooms and kitchens. For exterior applications, moisture-resistant plywoods are generally preferred.

Solid wood, on the other hand, can be used for all kinds of woodworking projects. It is mainly used in construction and for making premium furniture. Other uses include flooring, cabinetry, musical instruments, building structure, fencing, sports equipment, etc.

Hardwood, which is considered the better, stronger type of wood, is mainly used in construction and flooring. Softwood is less durable and is ideal for interior applications such as furniture, windows, doors, etc.

Other Plywood vs Solid Wood Differences – Maintenance, Availability & Price

Every type of wood requires regular maintenance. However, some solid woods are naturally resistant to rot and moisture, which means they can manage with limited care. Plywoods may need more care than solid woods and will not last as long as real hardwoods, some of which can easily last decades with little maintenance.

As we talked about before, solid wood is limited as the number of forests around the world is rapidly depleting. Some wood species are higher in demand and have less availability than others and may also be limited by region/location. Plywoods, though, are easily available all around the world. They are locally manufactured in almost every country.

Solid woods and plywoods that are easily available in many countries are moderately priced, i.e. you can buy them on a budget. Softwoods, for instance, cost less than hardwoods. Plywoods cost less than solid woods, which is why they are generally used as a wood alternative.

If you are looking for the best place to buy either plywood or solid wood at the lowest price online, then contact CameroonTimberExportSARL. As a leading exporter and supplier of timber, we can provide all kinds of solid and engineered wood at the best price with doorstep delivery in most countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.