Plywood is one of the most frequently used building materials available today. It can be found in cabinets, furniture, walls, subfloors, and ceilings, as well as in outdoor uses such as wooden fences.

    The quality of plywood you use can make or break the success, look, and longevity of any project.

    Like all wood, most ordinary plywood is susceptible to moisture and humidity levels in the air. And while this may not affect every use the product is put to, there are many applications where moisture-resistant plywood will provide better results.

    Why Moisture Resistant Plywood Is Important

    Plywood is made up of several layers, or “plies,” of wood, usually with a hardwood or veneer top surface. These layers help give the material its strength and ensure it remains stable enough to be used for many different purposes — from creating a roof deck to building cabinets.

    Each layer of the plywood can absorb moisture, whether from direct contact or through humidity in the air. When wood absorbs moisture, it can expand and then shrink again once it dries.

    This type of expansion and contraction may have little effect on some uses for wood beyond the need for an expansion joint to absorb most of the movement. However, in the case of specialty items like cabinets or furniture where tight tolerances are required, too much expansion and contraction over time can lead to a finished piece warping.

    In addition, traditional plywood is often produced with an adhesive made from urea-formaldehyde, a resin also known as urea-methanal, which bonds the different plies together. Formaldehyde is sensitive to moisture and can degrade over time if subjected to enough water or high humidity levels. This can cause the plies to delaminate or pull apart from one another — not something you want to happen to the projects you build.

    By using moisture-resistant plywood, you hinder the expansion and contraction process and prevent degradation between the layers. You won’t need expansion joints or have to worry about warping over time. In addition, using moisture-resistant plywood means it can be used in areas with higher levels of moisture and humidity, such as bathrooms or basements, where traditional types of plywood can’t.

    PureBond Hardwood Plywood

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    From our experience, PureBond Hardwood Plywood from Columbia Forest Products answers the need for a moisture-resistant plywood that provides a smooth, hardwood veneer and a formaldehyde-free adhesive.

    In addition to the soy flour-based adhesives that go into the manufacturing of each PureBond product, the material also uses a wet-strength resin used on items like milk cartons and printed currency. The result is a plywood that is more moisture resistant than traditional, urea-formaldehyde (UF) bonded panels.

    In tests, PureBond outperformed UF bonded panels in moisture degradation, meaning that the material will not delaminate or degrade upon exposure to moisture the way other plywood products do.

    Key benefits of using PureBond plywood include:

    Aesthetics – With a smooth hardwood-veneer face, PureBond offers an attractive look for finished projects.
    Durability – The adhesive bonds between layers are stronger than those of traditional plywood, resulting in greater integrity and longevity.
    Stability – It resists swelling, shrinking, and delaminating when exposed to moisture, making it ideal for areas like bathrooms.
    Sustainability – PureBond uses no added formaldehyde, instead using soy flour adhesive, making it an eco-friendly choice.

    PureBond Hardwood Plywood comes in a variety of grades, textures, and veneers. Whether you need maple plywood for cabinets, oak plywood for furniture, or other finishes, you can find a product to suit your project. Purebond is available in full 4 x 8 sheets or can be purchased pre-cut to custom dimensions.

    Get a Better Plywood

    You take pride in your work, so make sure the plywood you use will ensure your projects hold up well year after year, regardless of moisture they may encounter. Nothing is worse than seeing a well-constructed project warp or lose its functionality and aesthetic appeal due to plywood moisture damage.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Invest in moisture-resistant plywood like PureBond Hardwood Plywood to help protect your finished products from warping or degrading over time. 

    So, Is Moisture Resistant Plywood Worth It?

    For many applications, moisture-resistant plywood is absolutely worth the extra investment. The enhanced durability and stability means your finished products will have greater longevity and better withstand humidity fluctuations over time. For cabinetry, furniture, and other projects where you want to avoid swelling or delamination issues down the road, choose plywood made for moisture resistance.

    FAQs About Moisture Resistant Plywood

    What are the main differences between regular plywood and moisture-resistant plywood?

    The main differences are that, unlike regular plywood, moisture-resistant plywood:

    • Uses adhesives that don’t break down when exposed to moisture and humidity
    • Resists swelling, shrinking, and delaminating
    • Can be used in wet areas like bathrooms

    What types of projects is moisture-resistant plywood best for?

    It’s ideal for:

    • Bathroom vanities
    • Boats
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Shower walls
    • Any finished wood product where stability is important

    Is moisture-resistant plywood more expensive?

    Yes, it does cost more than traditional plywood, but the added durability and performance make it worth the extra investment for many projects. The exact cost difference depends on factors like the wood species and grade.

    Does moisture-resistant plywood look different?

    On the surface, no — it uses the same quality veneers and can have the same stains and finishes applied. The difference is in the manufacturing of the inner plies and the adhesives used.

    Where can I buy moisture-resistant plywood?

    You can find it at most home centers and lumber yards. Good sources include Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and lumber specialty stores. Online retailers like Amazon also carry various moisture-resistant plywood products.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Lauren Greene

    Lauren Greene

    Staff Writer

    Lauren Greene is a passionate storyteller with over 4 years of experience writing and editing. She attributes her expertise from working at local magazines, newspapers, and corporate marketing and communications teams. She has worked on content with topics ranging from plant care, home decor, and home improvement. Lauren resides in Raleigh with her adorable Shih Tzu. You can catch Lauren attending to her plants, spending time with her puppy, enjoying the greenway, or lifting weights at the gym when she’s not writing or researching the latest home improvement topics.

    Learn More

    photo of Lee Ann Merrill

    Lee Ann Merrill

    Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

    Learn More