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3-ply and 5-ply

These common types of plywood get their name from their number of layers: e.g, 3-ply has three layers. Uses include: Boxing in or decorative internal uses


This is composed of many layers. Uses include: Heavyweight construction, e.g., house framing

Other Boards

Block board

Not technically a ply, but shares its characteristics. Has two thinner outer layers that enclose thicker, square-cut lengths of wood. It is therefore stiff and durable. May have a decorative veneer or a finish of a lesser grade of wood.Uses include: Ideal for shelves and cabinets, and can be finished with paint

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)

Very versatile. Made up of highly compressed wooden fibers glued together. This method of manufacturing means that cut edges are neater than those on other materials. It can provide a rigid structural component, or can be intricately shaped to form a decorative surface ready for paint. Available in various thicknesses. Main drawback is that it gives off a very fine dust when cut, which must not be inhaled. Wear a mask when MDF is being cut. Uses include: Cabinets, cabinet doors, boxing in, shelving

Moisture-resistant MDF

A version of MDF that can resist moisture attack. It is often green. Uses include: Areas prone to moisture: e.g., kitchen or bathroom


A lightweight version of MDF. Joints between sheets can be taped, and the boards painted. Uses include: Underlay for flooring, or as an alternative to drywall on a ceiling


Central core is composed of small wooden fibers. Has no decorative quality, so is usually covered. Some sheets fit together using a tongue-and-groove mechanism. Available in various thicknesses.Uses include: Often used as floor sheathing

Moisture-resistant particleboard

More water-resistant than normal particleboard. It is often colored green. Uses include: Flooring

Veneered particleboard

Has a melamine (plastic) or decorative wooden veneer. Uses include: Commonly used for shelves


Thin, compressed fiberboard. Standard hardboard has one smooth side, and one rougher side. Different grades and a variety of finishes are available. Uses include: Often used for parts of kitchen cabinets with a melamine (plastic) surface or veneer