What is birch plywood?

by Sam Wood | Last Updated: 21/06/2021

Birch plywood is exactly what it sounds like, plywood made from thin layers of birch wood. It is very popular for furniture construction due to its clean, modern finish. Unlike cheaper plywoods, birch plywood has a very nice finish, which can just be finished with a clear sealer.

Why would you choose birch plywood?

There are a few reasons why many people choose birch plywood over both cheaper and more expensive options, I will dive into a few of them below.

Aesthetic

Birch plywood looks very nice, especially when compared with lower-cost plywoods. The bright, light wood gives anything you build with birch ply a sleek, modern look. This is the plywood that most plywood furniture is built from if it is not going to be veneered or hidden.

Sheet of birch plywood

Sheet of birch plywood

So here I have grabbed two images, above is a sheet of birch ply and below is a sheet of generic “hardwood plywood” which is there to represent the cheaper plywoods. The cheaper plywood tends to have a very bright redwood as the surface wood. This can be quite orange and to be honest, doesn’t really look that nice. Whereas birch plywood looks gorgeous, it can be stained or treated to achieve a wide range of finishes.

Generic hardwood plywood

Generic hardwood plywood

Quality

Birch has quite a smooth grain with few knots, it is also not known to split or crack as much as cheaper hardwoods used in other plywoods. For this reason, it can make really good quality plywood with few blemishes. It also produces plywood with few voids which makes it much better when being screwed into.

Price

Whilst being more expensive than some plywood birch plywood sits right in the middle when it comes to price. There are cheaper options and there are more expensive options. But when it comes to quality plywood that can be used for furniture where it is to be left exposed then birch plywood is probably the cheapest option.

More expensive hardwoods make much more expensive plywoods, even when just used as a top veneer layer.

Environmental Reasons

Birch trees grow really fast, baltic birch is grown in managed European forests where it can be cut and regrown in a managed forest. What this means is that using birch plywood doesn’t lead to deforestation as more trees are planted and quickly grow to replace those cut-down.

Clean Edges

Due to birch plywood having few voids, the edges are usually very clean. This is ideal if you are planning on leaving your plywood edges exposed. With high-quality plywood, such as birch, then the exposed edges can add to the overall look of the finished piece rather than detracting from it.

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Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!