Marine plywood has been widely used for many purposes including boats and other construction industries. It is a high-quality and durable product that is available in different types and grades. It is extremely resistant to moisture which makes it ideal for boat construction.
Marine plywood is used for boats because of its ability to resist rot no matter the moisture levels. It is used for decking and other exterior purposes. Marine ply alternative is indeed cost-effective which means you might want to consider its alternatives that are more affordable.
In this article, we will address all available plywood materials that are excellent alternatives to marine plywood. Let’s get started.
What are the best marine plywood alternatives?
Fiberboard is one of the most commonly used alternatives to marine plywood. It is also known as a medium-density board. The plywood material is very strong and durable. Other great alternatives include fiber cement board, wax-resin bard, ribbon grain plywood, birch plywood, and many more.
What to use instead of marine plywood
Fiberboard is one of the popularly used alternatives, also referred to as Medium Density Board. It is a very durable and strong material. It is not entirely made of wood but also contains small softwood fibers that are fixed together by a wax resin. The resin component is the reason fiberboard is resistant to moisture.
Fiberboard is made from wood fibers and resin wax mixture. This made it a strong end product. The material is then broken down and cut into sheets, these sheets are then subjected to extreme heat and pressure. When this process is done, the resultant wood panels turn out to be overly strong like marine plywood.
Fiberboard is widely used in homes because of its machinability, strength, consistency, and fine finish. It is affordable and easily accessible compared to marine plywood. The material lacks grain or texture, making it easier to paint and seal. It is also very strong, making it hard to crack.
- Fiber Cement Board
A fiber cement board is another great alternative to marine plywood. It is composed of wood fibers and cement. In comparison with fiberboard material, the FCB uses small wood fibers. But it uses cement to bond the wood fibers together instead of resin.
This material is durable, strong, and moisture resistant. It is now widely used to build exterior walls, cabinets, ceilings, and many more. Due to its versatility, the material is useful in many applications including boat building.
It is used for different kinds of construction, as well as interior and exterior walls. Its component of wood and cement makes it a good alternative to marine plywood for making boat floors, walls, and other products that are moisture resistant.
- Wax Resin Fiberboard
Wax resin fiberboard is another plywood material you can use as an alternative to marine plywood. Even though it isn’t a high-density material, it can still hold its own in the boat building industry and other woodworking industries.
It is not 100 percent wood, the process of making wax-resin fiberboard is quite similar to others. The wax-resin component improves its strength. It is formulated from a mixture of softwood fibers and wax resin. After the resin might have bonded the wood fibers together, the resultant product is cut into several sheets. It is lightweight and highly durable. Despite its suitability for many construction applications, it is available at low prices in the market.
There is another existing method of producing this exact fiberboard. This process is known as hydrogen bonding. Hydrogen is used to bond the small wood fibers together instead of resin. The boards are held together and compressed in this process.
This process allows the natural lignin in the wood fibers to function in strengthening the resultant product. Lignin is a reinforcing agent that binds the individual fiber together. This makes each of the final products unique and different from each other.
- Ribbon Grain Plywood
It is referred to as ribbon grain plywood due to its similar appearance to grain. The ribbon look in the grain is visible and vertical stripes run along the length of the wood. It is a type of plywood that is smooth as well.
It doesn’t really need further adjustment after installation because of its smoothness feature. You get to save the money you could have used to carry out that operation. It is also a strong material, though not as strong as marine plywood itself.
It looks like real wood though, it is made up of wood veneers and cores. It is normally used as an alternative because it is cheap and it is of high quality.
- Exterior Grade Plywood
Just like the name states, it is majorly used for exterior or outdoor use. Although you can use the material for interior purposes as well, you will need to polish it more so it can be visually appealing. It is generally not very smooth and is prone to visual effects.
The wood material can be used for outdoor building constructions when coated with 100 percent waterproof glue, varnish, paint, or sealant. This plywood is moisture-tolerant and can survive harsh environmental conditions.
It is widely used in the building industry because of its structural properties and affordability.
- Birch Plywood
Birch plywood is generated from Northern European birch trees of the highest B/BB grade. These trees grow in cold regions and have close growth rings that make them highly sturdy and durable. It is also an economical marine plywood alternative.
They are good for making veneers and cores for plywood. It is not a moisture-resistant plywood material, so it is not advisable to use it for constructions like boat exteriors. You can use them for boats’ interiors. Because of its aesthetically pleasing and strong features, it is typically used for shelving, doors, and paneling.
Birch plywood is aesthetically pleasing because of its rich and smooth appearance. They are also easily accessible at low pricing despite their versatility. It is safe for children since it has only a few knots and little to no rough edges.
- King StarBoard
King StarBoard is known to be industrial-standard plywood made of high-density polyethylene. These boards are made through a proprietary process referred to as K-Stran. This process is known as the most advanced manufacturing method for producing constant flat continuous sheets. Because this board is easy to work with, they are used with any conventional woodworking tools.
They are strong and capable of withstanding the toughest marine conditions, as they are environmentally stable. Discoloration or rot of the board is impossible. Their laminates will not peel off like laminates of other plywood and they will not rot like oak, teak, or other solid wood.
Refinishing and repair are limited since they are easy to work with and clean. Both sides are made of attractive matte finishes. They are typically great to replace marine plywood installation on boats since they will not splinter, swell or rot.
- Thermo-Lite Board
Thermo-Lite Board is popular among builders because of its sturdy, light, and rot-free features. It is made of a non-absorbent material, which improves the board’s stability, increasing its strength and endurance. They are capable of withstanding harsh temperatures and absorb high impacts well. They also provide excellent bonding surfaces.
They are good alternatives if you are looking to replace or update your construction material. You can also use it to design your motorhomes and your boats too. It is good for DIY aficionados who are seeking for the right materials to refurbish, repair or upgrade their boats and home.
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How to waterproof ordinary plywood
One of the cheapest means to replace marine grade plywood is through the use of ordinary plywood and making it waterproof. This is possible because all plywood including the marine type is composed of the same adhesive known as Type A Phenolic Bond glue line – EO formaldehyde rating. This bond strongly fixed the core and the ply veneer sheets together.
The ability of birch plywood and marine plywood to resist moisture is dependent on the quality of the glue. It is important all the edges of the plywood board must be protected and sealed by layers of wax/oil products, water repellant varnish, or water.
To use ordinary plywood as an alternative to marine ply, you only need to use high-quality ordinary plywood and properly waterproof it. Purchase the necessary materials and ensure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to waterproof the plywood sheet.
Conclusion: Marine Ply Alternative
Based on your proposed plywood application, there are several available marine ply alternatives in the market that may be suitable. First, it is important for you to consider how strong the wood needs to be. The different kinds of plywood materials we have to differ in their durability and strength levels.
Fortunately, there are various kinds of available plywood that have been discussed above. Compare and contrast their features to your intended woodwork application to determine the best one to go for. Cheers!