We are often asked if we stock or manufacture ‘marine plywood’. A simple question in theory, but it’s made more complicated as most people don’t completely understand what it is that they’re really asking for, or whether they actually need it or not.
So, what is Marine Plywood?
In Australia ‘marine plywood’ refers only to plywood that is certified to Australian Standard 2272. There are strict testing and verification procedures that must be followed by the manufacturer and, as a result, the user of certified marine plywood can have confidence in its performance in marine applications. Marine plywood is sometimes referred to as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of plywood in Australia. While no one doubts the quality of AS 2272 certified marine plywood, this certification can come with a hefty price tag. While we would all like a Rolls Royce parked in our garage, do we need one? Probably not.
When it comes to plywood in Australia, we are spoilt for choice. The key is to find the right plywood for your application and budget. If that’s ‘marine’, then great, go for it. But if it’s not, save your money and be confident that you’ve made an informed selection based on your needs.
Since we’re talking about marine plywood and since we want to give a balanced view on this topic, let’s learn a bit more about what makes certified marine plywood ‘marine’.
When it comes to constructing certain types of long-lasting structures that are frequently exposed to water, moisture, and humidity, there are certainly some things you should be looking for. Marine plywood is used in applications applying to boats, ships, and other environments where moisture or water is a constant threat.
Marine plywood, like all plywood, is made by stacking thin sheets of veneers or plies perpendicular to one another. This method is known as cross-lamination, and it provides the additional strength as compared to if all the veneers were laid with the grain in the same direction. A key difference between marine plywood and other plywood is the quality of the veneers in the core. Marine plywood uses higher grade veneers to minimise voids and overlaps which could affect its performance in high moisture environments. This comes with significant additional cost.
Another key requirement for marine plywood is the type of glue, or resin, which bonds the veneers together. It must be phenol formaldehyde, also known as ‘type A’ or ‘A-Bond’. This is a weather and boil-proof glue, which provides marine plywood a high resistance against water and moisture, making it appropriate for use in marine applications.
The important thing to note is that this A-Bond glue is the very same glue used in typically much cheaper ‘exterior’ plywood. This provides excellent protection from moisture but doesn’t come with the marine certification – or price tag.
People asking for marine plywood typically want high quality or decorative plywood. Therefore, the benefits of marine are often irrelevant or not defined for their intended use. Often other types of exterior, or even interior, plywood will suffice.
Key questions to consider before purchasing:
- What is your intended application?
- What is your budget?
- Will the plywood be in a high moisture environment i.e., marine use?
So, to be clear, Matilda Veneer does not offer certified marine plywood for sale. If you need this, we’re happy to point you in the right direction.
What we do have is an extensive selection of high-quality, architectural and appearance-grade options with wide ranging specifications. This includes exterior, interior, lightweight and fire-rated options in a range of species, for all budgets.
In addition to our extensive range of plywood options, Matilda Veneer offers over 100 species of veneer across our sliced, rotary, Truewood® and Enhanced veneer ranges. If you’re looking for natural, unique and beautiful solutions to your design challenges, please get in touch with our team today.