Plywood Siding 101

When it comes to home exteriors, there is a wide variety of options. Plywood siding was introduced in the market around the 1950s and became widely used in the Northern states. Plywood is a widely used siding material that is simple to install and very durable. Besides offering several benefits, it is also an environmentally friendly choice, as wood is a biodegradable and renewable resource.

Plywood siding is made up of many thin sheets of wood veneers that are tightly pressed and then glued together. The grain of each veneer is placed to face opposite of the one next to it, thus providing stability.  It is mostly made out of southern pine or fir panels but can sometimes also be made out of other woods such as maple or birch.

There are several grades of plywood that are sold in the market. Typically the grade is based on the thickness of the siding itself. Lower grade plywood, which is usually about an inch thick, is not produced to withstand the outdoors. It is much more susceptible to damage. Oftentimes lower grade plywood is known to crack, warp, or split. Higher grade plywood, usually an inch or five-eighths of an inch thick, with proper and heavy maintenance, proves to be a natural and attractive siding. Higher grade plywood is also smoother and is therefore easier to paint and stain as well as to seal and coat with moisture repellents.

Plywood siding is fairly inexpensive and can be purchased in the range of $4 to $10 for a 4 by 8 foot panel. Buyers can also opt to purchase plywood sheets, which are essentially the same thing, except that they typically come with decorative grooves that are more visually appealing. The siding can be installed personally or professionally and can be placed horizontally or vertically. Typically, homeowners will opt to have their siding professionally installed because moisture control is critical with plywood. If it is not properly installed, water damage can be devastating in years to come, leading to the need for replacement and repair costs. As well, even if the siding is done by a professional, homeowners should be aware that because wood is susceptible to moisture, many issues will arise with mold, rot, pests, and woodpeckers reeking havoc on the home. Therefore, it is not ideal to use plywood in particularly hot and humid regions of the country, as the moisture would be impossible to control.

Plywood is only one of the many materials available for home exteriors and is suitable in certain conditions. While it is subject to heavy maintenance, its natural beauty cannot be beat, as even other siding materials are made to hold the appearance of natural wood.

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