AIFP is one of the largest building products wholesale organizations in the country. In fact, we have seven departments covering major lumber commodities, including our Panels Department which boasts decades of expertise in rated sheathing, underlayment, sanded/specialty grade, ply-form, and mill certified grades. In today’s blog, our lumber experts will be covering what you need to know about SYP plywood, Douglas fir plywood, and oriented strand board.
Plywood is an engineered wood product manufactured from thin layers of wood veneer glued together with adjacent layers being rotated 90 degrees. This configuration is called cross-graining, and it’s important because the sheets of veneer are incredibly strong along the grain and very weak across the grain. Cross-graining then provides consistent strength in all directions, improved dimensional stability, and a reduced tendency for the wood to split, expand, or shrink.
Plywood can vary in many different ways. Not only can it be made from different type of woods (hardwoods, softwoods, etc.), but it can also be designed for different types of uses, like sheathing plywood, sanded plywood, and overlay plywood. Here are some of the types of plywood traded by the Panels Department at American International Forest Products.
Southern yellow pine plywood is a multi-purpose plywood made with wood from southern yellow pine trees. While SYP plywood is extremely soft, it’s also quite strong and durable, with a beautiful yellow exterior, making it great for a wide range of construction projects. Plus, it’s pressure-treated, holds nails well, and is nearly immune to wood rot.
Douglas fir plywood is a multi-purpose plywood made with wood from Douglas fir trees. Rated for both interior and exterior use, Douglas fir plywood is strong, stiff, and sturdy, and it is less susceptible to warping than SYP plywood, though it is harder than the average softwood, so it can be a bit rough on power tool bits and blades.
In construction, sheathing refers to a layer of board or panel material like plywood that’s used to strengthen the assembly of floors, walls, and roofs, while providing a surface for joining other materials and providing weather resistance.
Sanded plywood is a structural plywood panel that has been sanded smooth on both the back and face plies during manufacturing. Because of its beautiful appearance, sanded plywood is often used in cabinetry and paneling. Like all plywood, sanded plywood’s cross-graining construction means it’s quite strong, impact-resistant, and has superior dimensional stability.
Otherwise known as medium density overlay panel, or MOD panels, overlay plywood is a paintable surface made of plywood that’s treated with a weather-resistant resin overlay that’s bonded directly to the plywood by heat and pressure. The resin overlay better resists water, weather, wear, and degradation, which makes it great for sign painting and concrete formwork.
Known as OSB board, oriented strand board is a type of engineered wood which has similarities to plywood and particle board. Unlike plywood, OSB board is made of layers of shredded wood strips, though it shares many of the same strength properties.
There is some debate about whether OSB or plywood is better for certain applications, though they are graded as structural equals. OSB currently leads the market as a sheathing and sub-flooring material. One reason for its popularity is its low price. It’s also a popular choice for sustainable builders, as OSB boards are made from small trees that grow quickly on tree farms, rather than being cut from forests. That said, plywood reacts much better to moisture, making it a better choice in regions where the panels are more likely to encounter rain, snow, and ice.
Industry consolidation has contributed to increased competitiveness in the marketplace, resulting in an increased need for strong relationships on both the supply side and customer side. This is something that we expect to continue. The Panels Department at AIFP has many years of industry experience and we combine that with strong industry relationships, educational opportunities, and travel (when possible) to stay on top of industry trends. If you’re in the market for plywood or oriented strand board for a manufacturing or construction project, American International Forest Products has you covered. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you meet your diverse needs. In the meantime, check out our wood blog, where we cover other lumber products we trade, including cedar wood, southern yellow pine, and spruce, pine, fir.
Up for the challenge? We'll give you the tools to excel. AIFP is continually growing. We recruit new traders year-round.