If you are refinishing cabinets, or a DIY renovator, and have thought about whether to use 1/2 or 3/4 plywood for cabinets, you can stop thinking about it. Do yourself a favor and read this before you start planning your project. Ever wonder which type of plywood is best for cabinets and where to use them? If you’re looking for a quick guide, you’re in the right place.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and go 1/2 inch all the way. There’s a good chance that’s what you’ll end up doing, but you might want to evaluate whether 3/4 plywood is a better choice for your cabinets in some cases. I’ve seen some really strange arguments for using different plywood for building cabinets and furniture. I think this comes from not knowing a lot about the different kinds of plywood and what they’re best used for. A lot of people also get confused about the thicknesses in fractions like 3/4″. I hope this article makes it clear for you when to use 1/2″ or 3/4″ plywood, and where (or when) both solid wood and plywood should be used.
Plywood is one of the most versatile building materials available. It’s often used in construction, but not everyone knows that plywood is used for more than just walls inside a house and can also be used for cabinets. Plywood comes in two thicknesses – 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch. Thicker does not mean better; both 1/2 inch and 3 ounce are excellent for many different uses. Just keep in mind that thicker does not always mean stronger.
1/2 and 3/4 plywood are both used in cabinet construction.
They’re both made out of spruce or birch wood, but they have different thicknesses. 3/4 plywood is less expensive than 1/2 plywood. It’s also stronger, so it’s better for large surfaces that need to be strong enough to support weight. 1/2 plywood is stronger than 3/4 plywood when it comes to bending strength, which makes it a better choice for curved surfaces or large areas that need to be curved. Generally speaking, 1/2 plywood is better suited to cabinet construction because it has more strength than 3/4 plywood while still being cost effective. However, if you have a lot of curves or need to make a surface very strong, then 3/4 plywood might be the better option for your cabinets.
When it comes to cabinets, not all plywood is created equal.
Plywood is made from thin sheets of wood that are glued together in layers. The number of layers determines the thickness of the sheet, e.g. a 1/2-inch thickness means there are two layers of wood glued together where each layer is 1/2 inch thick.
There are two common types of plywood
- 1/2″ – This is used for cabinets, furniture and other building projects where strength is an issue. It’s also commonly used in sheet rock (drywall), flooring, countertops and more.
- 3/4″ – This type of plywood is not as strong as 1/2″, but it’s still much stronger than regular solid wood. It’s often used for interior walls because it doesn’t require any additional framing like thinner plywood does.
Plywood is an engineered wood product made from thin layers of wood veneer that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated 90 degrees to one another. Plywood is used for a variety of applications, including furniture, cabinet panels, floors, and roofs.
Plywood comes in different thicknesses is often referred to by the number of plies or thicknesses. For example, a 1/2-inch (1/2″) sheet has two plies, while a 3/4″ sheet has three plies. The number of plies affects the quality, strength and price.
The most common types of plywood are
- Single-ply – 1 layer of wood (thin)
- Composite – 1 layer of wood + 1 layer of paper
- Double-ply – 2 layers of wood + 1 layer of paper
- Triple-ply – 3 layers of wood + 1 layer of paper
The fact is that 1/2 plywood is typically used for face frame cabinets, and 3/4 plywood for frameless cabinets. From a structural standpoint, each type of plywood does have advantages over the other in certain situations. If a particular project requires better strength at less cost than 3/4″ plywood sourced from the local big box store, then 1/2″ plywood is your answer. Just keep in mind where you will be installing the cabinet before choosing your plywood. Virtually any cabinet construction system can be improved by using 3/4-thick material. Why? Because building with 1/2-inch material is a compromise that usually results in cabinets that sag, warp, or exhibit excessive deflection when the doors or drawers are opened and closed. That may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Cabinets with these traits are not only ugly to look at, they make kitchen and bath projects run over budget and take longer to build.