Engineered Wood

Plywood Buying Guide
Engineered wood is a man-made wood product created using wood strands, particles, fibers or veneers of wood forged together with adhesives to form composite materials. Often stronger than solid wood, engineered wood is less prone to warping. Consider these engineered wood products for your next project. 


The first of all the engineered wood products, plywood is one of the most important lumber products available. One of the most versatile sheet goods, plywood is used to construct everything from fine furniture to sheathing and sub-floors. It is produced in large standard sizes that have increased efficiency in the construction industry and is both stronger and cheaper than solid wood. It is more resistive to shrinking, twisting, warping and cracking and is produced in a dozen thicknesses and a wide variety of finishes and wood species (see Understanding Plywood Grades for more information).

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) 

OSB is also glued and pressed, but is stronger than particleboard because it’s made with larger pieces of wood, the strands of which are reversed for each layer. OSB can be used in all applications where you would use C-D grade plywood.

Particle Board 

Made with tiny pieces of wood, sawmill shavings or sawdust, which are glued together and pressed into sheets, particle board is the most economical, but the weakest, of all the sheet goods. Use it for utility shelves or inexpensive garage or workshop projects.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF is made by breaking softwoods down into individual fibers, which are then glued and pressed together. MDF is denser than particle board and has a smooth finish that takes paint very well, making it a great choice for interior projects. MDF can also be used for built-ins, cabinets, raised panels, or simple furniture


Melamine is a type of particle board that has had a plastic coating applied to each face. It is strong and easy to clean, making it a great choice for the interior of cabinets or any surface that needs to be durable.

Hardwood Plywood

Hardwood plywood has a veneer core with hardwood veneers on the face and back. It is widely available in Birch and Oak and as a special order in many other species. It can be used for fine furniture projects or in any interior application that will be stained, keeping in mind that exposed edges will need to be covered with solid wood.

Understanding plywood grades

Engineered Wood

Use our handy chart when choosing sheet goods. All products are not available in all stores as in-stock items. Check with your local The Home Depot store for availability of each product.
 Measure Plywood

Working with Plywood, Sheathing and Siding 

If you plan to cut plywood yourself, avoid cutting full-size sheets on a table saw. For a safer method, place the sheet on top of sacrificial pieces of wood, such as two-by-fours, laid across two or more sawhorses. you can then use your circular saw to cut the sheet to size. To make repeatable, same-sized cuts, clamp a straight edge to your sheet or buy an attachment for your circular saw that rides along the edge of the plywood.