Using plywood for tabletop (Everything you should know)


plywood table top

Use this guide to know everything about choosing plywood to build the best tabletop and know what makes plywood so good for tabletops.

If you want to build a tabletop of plywood, chances are you may find yourself lost in the market when looking at dozens of varieties- as plywoods are man-made- different manufacturing processes pump out different qualities. 

Some are very expensive and better, while others are cheaper and of lower quality. Available in choices for people with varying budgets. Read more: veneers vs plywood.

But still, there is a lot more to know. A helping guide like the following one can help you pick the best product to ensure you get the results you always wish for. 

First, let’s know can you use plywood for a tabletop? The answer is below.

Can you use plywood as a tabletop?

Yes, plywoods can be used to build a beautiful tabletop of your choice. Regardless of the idea, design, appeal, and look you want your tabletop should have, the material can bring that for you.

You can read more here about the strength of plywood.

Generally, you can easily avail them in large pieces, so building big tabletops is easier since you don’t have to use too many strips of wood.

Besides, there are varieties for both indoor and outdoor uses- categorized in grades, A, B, C, D. The varieties also include water-resistant plywoods.

The higher the grade means the more durable the plywood will be such as plywoods of hardwood veneers usually list in A grade. Conversely, the lower grades like C, D are made of softwood veneers.

So, choosing hardwood plywood is recommended for a good reason that they are ideal for outdoor furnishing projects. Last longer than lower grades.

While lower grades of plywood are good for people looking for cheaper alternatives. And they are made of veneers of softwoods.

But the cheapest option so far is the one and only chipboard. Read here: Chipboard vs plywood.

Watch the video to learn: building tabletop using plywood.

What are “plywoods”?

Plywoods are man-made or engineered wood, obtained from the trunk of a tree, plywood is created by gluing together thin layers of wood veneer. 

Layers, or plies, are arranged in a manner so that the grain of one layer points in the opposite direction to the grain of the next layer. 

The opposite pattern results in improving the overall strength, reducing shrinkage and swelling. The pattern makes the product more durable than natural wood.

What makes plywood good for the tabletop?

Choosing plywood is a wise choice for building a tabletop, Its uniform color makes it easier to stain or finish than other types of wood. Cedar plywood for example is one of the best materials for building tops.

Allowing you to give any final look of your choice by applying different finishes and veneers of your choice to add beauty. Applying finishes also increases durability.

  • Plywood’s efficiency of resisting water is better than many kinds of wood such as pinewood, Fir, Spruce. 
  • It is also an ideal choice if you will keep the table outside most of the time as if you want to have a dining table in your backside zone. 
  • Plus, it’s cost-effective you will spend less money on plywoods’ tabletops than on hardwoods such as oak, maple, walnut. 
  • Plywoods are available in many different thicknesses. You can buy in sizes of ½, ¾ ⅝, and since it can be bought in large sheets you can avoid any problems that may occur when joining edges.

What thickness of plywood is good for the tabletop?

Plywood comes in a range of thicknesses, depending on your needs you can decide the right thickness. The most common thicknesses in plywoods are, ½, ¾, ⅝. 

  • ½ inch thick tabletop is suitable for projects that need to be put a lot of heavyweights objects. 
  • ¾ inch thickness is standard, neither too strong nor too weak so it’s ideal when you are stuck in between. Typically dining table tops are the best fit for this thickness.
  • Alternatively, you can use 5/8 inch plywood, though it won’t provide as much stability as the thicker plywood.

Advantages of plywood’s tabletop

Cost-effective- There are qualities in plywood. Prices also differ among them. So choosing the plywood under budget isn’t going to be that difficult, compared to hardwoods which are 

Easy to install– The different sizes make them easier to install, as the cutting process does not take a longer time.

Water-resistant– High quality of them is good at resisting water, marine-grade plywoods are the user in constructing boats.

Light in weight– Moving the table becomes easy due to its lightweight nature. 

Disadvantages of plywood’s tabletop

It’s beyond repair- While it’s true that using finishes can protect the top surface from damage, scracthes, dents. But they are not going to strenth the immune strength. That being said, once plywood gets damaged, it’s quite difficult to repair it. Regardless of whether the substrate of plywood has been severely damaged, simply refinishing it can be very challenging, since it’s so easy to burn through the skin when sanding the old finish off.

The surface may look empty- if you only use a thin sheet of plywood- is that it will have an “empty” like feeling when you set down on it objects like plates or glasses on it. When that happens, makes it feel cheap.  You can avoid this By doubling the sheets or using a thicker one like ½ or maybe 1 inch (sometimes) would eliminate this problem.

Boring appearance– You will assume that the appearance of plywood is actually not that appealing that you can get with solid hardwood. A sheet of plywood has a uniform grain, so on a large surface, viewing at different angles it can appear a bit dull.  Solid hardwood tops, on the other hand, will look far more rustic and befitting of a more rustic piece like a farmhouse table, as they have a lot more personality. 

Solid vs plywood for building tabletop?

Traditionally, farmhouse tables were made of solid wood and the materials laid around, knots and all. A big plus of using solid hardwood is you can get a nice-looking top, that’s too sturdy and durable to last for years. 

In addition to its appearance, solid wood would be an appropriate choice for a table that you intended to be able to pass down from generation to generation. I tend to consider this when I build anything.

But when it comes to budget, viewing things at this angle- plywood will be a better choice for someone who cannot afford hardwood like cherry, teak. Because most softwoods are not suitable for building tops as plywoods.

How to build a table top using plywood

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