Industrial and technological innovation has brought us a host of new and useful materials, each of which have shaped our modern society profoundly – from complex plastics to new, durable sheet metal alloys. But there is one simple, prefabricated material that outstrips the rest in terms of versatility, cost, and, most presciently, sustainability: plywood.

Plywood is a man-made sheet material, comprising leaves or ‘ply’s of wood glued together to form a rigid finished sheet. There are different kinds of plywood with different properties, seeing plywood used in a variety of industries for different purposes. But what are they?


Plywood is most commonly understood as a construction material. It is a relatively inexpensive sheet material with a number of useful properties, and various different iterations available for specific use cases. Structural plywood is used in support of structural beams; its durability suits it for larger-scale hoardings, too.

But lower-grade plywood is most often used in support of other construction processes, involving casting and forming. Where new builds and commercial projects require the pouring of concrete, shuttering plywood is used to create the form boundaries – with the benefits of being easily-removed, and leaving smooth surfaces in the process.

Interior Decoration

But plywood comes into its own as a material when it comes to interior and decorative use. By itself, plywood is not the most aesthetic of materials – though there are some that embrace its raw aesthetics as part of a cohesive design principle, taking inspiration from minimalism, the Bauhaus school and even Brutalism.

Chiefly, interior plywood can be used to great effect in the building of bespoke interior installations, from fitted kitchens to armchairs and beyond. Plywood is easy to manipulate, and complex designs can be created with ease using the material. Certain lower-ply iterations also have unique properties with regard to flexion; they can be flex-formed to curved designs, enabling the construction of sleek surfaces with relative ease. 


Plywood’s ubiquity as a cheap material lends it well to larger-scale manufacture, in similar ways to the above uses in construction. Principally, plywood is a common fixture in furniture manufacture, from flat-pack furniture items to seat bases in desk chairs. Plywood’s structural capabilities mean budget sofa companies sometimes use it for frames.

Its uses are not limited to furniture, though. Plywood is a popular material across industries, with common use in consumer products as well as technical and industrial solutions.


The automotive industry, for example, use plywood extensively in the construction of new vehicles. Plywood frequently forms an integral part of floorplate designs, providing flat interior surfaces on which to mount carpeted flooring or seating. 

Plywood also serves crucial functions in finishing off cockpit ceilings, enabling the easy mounting of electronics and ceiling fabrics. Where not used for framework, plywood can also be found forming an integral part of dashboard construction.