Pressure-Treated Plywood: The Ultimate Resource 2024

Pressure-Treated Plywood: The Ultimate Resource 2024

Pressure-treated plywood is a wood product that has undergone a specialized treatment process involving the infusion of preservatives under high pressure to enhance its resistance to decay, rot, and pests, making it ideal for outdoor and construction applications.

Common Features of Pressure-Treated Plywood

Pressure-treating involves subjecting the wood to high pressure, forcing preservative chemicals deep into its fibers. This shields the wood from rot, decay, and insect infestations. Copper-based compounds, which have proven effective in preventing deterioration, are commonly used in the pressure-treating process.

Benefits of Pressure-Treated Plywood

  1. Resilience and Longevity:
    • It is highly resilient and durable, offering exceptional longevity for outdoor structures.
    • The treatment process enhances the plywood’s resistance to rot, decay, and insect damage, reducing maintenance requirements and extending the lifespan of the structures.
  2. Versatility in Outdoor Applications:
    • It exhibits versatility in various outdoor applications, including decking, fencing, siding, and outdoor furniture.
    • It withstands harsh environmental conditions such as moisture, UV exposure, and temperature fluctuations while maintaining its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal over time.

Common Uses of Pressure-Treated Plywood

  1. Decking and Outdoor Structures:
    • It is widely used for decking and outdoor structures due to its ability to withstand constant exposure to weather elements such as rain, sun, and temperature fluctuations.
    • It provides a durable and stable platform for outdoor living spaces, ensuring longevity and structural integrity over time.
  2. Fencing and Garden Projects:
    • Fencing and garden projects benefit from it’s ability to serve as a sturdy barrier against the elements.
    • It resists moisture, rot, and pests, making it ideal for outdoor applications where exposure to soil and moisture is common.
  3. Marine Projects:
    • It is also utilized in marine projects, including boat construction and marine applications.
    • Its resistance to moisture and decay makes it suitable for use in marine environments where exposure to water is constant.

Choosing the Right Pressure-Treated Plywood

Grading: Pressure-treated plywood is available in various grades, each tailored for specific purposes and applications:

  • Exterior Grade: Designed for outdoor use, this grade is treated to withstand moisture, rot, and insects, making it ideal for decks, fences, and other outdoor structures.
  • Marine Grade: Exceling in wet environments, marine-grade is specifically designed for marine applications such as boat construction, where exposure to water is constant.
  • Utility Grade: This grade offers a cost-effective option for general-purpose projects where appearance is less critical, such as temporary structures or utility applications.
  • Sheathing Grade: Used for structural purposes, sheathing-grade is suitable for wall and roof sheathing in construction projects.
  • Appearance Grade: This grade is selected for its visual appeal and smooth finish, making it suitable for applications where aesthetics are important, such as furniture and cabinetry.

Thickness: The thickness of pressure-treated plywood varies based on the intended application and load-bearing requirements:

  • ¾-inch Thickness: Commonly used for subflooring in construction due to its durability and ability to handle heavy loads.
  • ½-inch Thickness: Suitable for lighter applications such as wall sheathing, cabinet backing, and other general-purpose projects where structural strength is less critical.


Installation: For a sturdy installation of pressure-treated plywood, follow these steps:

  • Use the Right Fasteners and Spacing: Use corrosion-resistant fasteners such as galvanized or stainless steel nails or screws, spaced according to manufacturer recommendations to ensure proper structural integrity.
  • Apply Finishes and Seals: After installation, apply appropriate finishes and sealants to protect the plywood against moisture, UV exposure, and other environmental elements.
  • Regular Maintenance: Implement regular maintenance practices such as resealing or reapplying finishes as needed to maintain the plywood’s durability and performance over time.

Maintenance: To ensure the longevity of pressure-treated plywood, regular maintenance is essential:

  • Routine Inspections: Conduct periodic inspections of the plywood for signs of wear, damage, or moisture infiltration.
  • Resealing as Necessary: Apply additional coats of sealant or finish to areas showing signs of wear or exposure to maintain the plywood’s strength and integrity.
  • Preserve Strength and Appearance: By addressing maintenance needs promptly, you can preserve the strength, appearance, and performance of plywood in your construction or outdoor projects for years to come.

Safety Precautions

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator to protect against contact with chemical residues and sawdust during cutting or sanding.
  • Work in Well-Ventilated Areas: Use pressure-treated plywood in well-ventilated areas to reduce exposure to chemical vapors and dust.
  • Avoid Contact with Skin and Eyes: Avoid prolonged skin contact with pressure-treated plywood and wash hands thoroughly after handling to prevent skin irritation or chemical absorption.
  • Follow Safe Disposal Guidelines: Dispose of scraps and waste materials from pressure-treated plywood according to local regulations and guidelines to minimize environmental impact.
  • Clean Work Area Properly: Clean up work areas and tools after handling pressure-treated plywood to prevent contamination and ensure a safe working environment for future projects.

Alternatives and Comparisons

  • Cost-Effectiveness vs. Long-Term Durability:
    • Pressure-Treated Plywood: Initially more cost-effective than marine-grade plywood, pressure-treated plywood may offer a lower upfront cost for boat deck construction.
    • Marine-Grade Plywood: Despite the higher initial cost, marine-grade plywood provides superior resistance to water, rot, and moisture, making it a better long-term investment for boat deck applications where exposure to water is constant.
  • Resistance to Water and Moisture:
    • Pressure-Treated Plywood: While pressure-treated plywood is treated to resist moisture and decay, it may not provide the same level of waterproofing as marine-grade plywood.
    • Marine-Grade Plywood: Marine-grade plywood is specifically designed for marine applications, offering exceptional waterproofing and durability in wet environments such as boat decks.
  • Structural Integrity and Performance:
    • Pressure-Treated Plywood: Suitable for general outdoor applications, pressure-treated plywood provides adequate structural integrity and performance for boat decks.
    • Marine-Grade Plywood: Engineered for marine use, marine-grade plywood exceeds the performance of pressure-treated plywood in terms of strength, durability, and resistance to environmental factors.

Pressure Treated Plywood Resources

U.S. Forest Service – Guidelines for the Selection and use of pressure treated wood

American Wood Protection Association – Standards (May require Purchase)

Got More Questions? We Have Answers!

What is Marine-Grade Plywood?