When it comes to building your dream home, a long-awaited addition, or a beautiful outdoor deck with cascading stairs to the yard, you want to use the best possible materials to ensure durability, reliability, and ultimately–longevity.
To achieve this, it all starts from the inside out. In this case–with plywood. This material is used as a foundational element to finish the frame of a project; from an entire home to an addition, to a staircase, and everything in between. Plywood is the layer that’s applied directly to the framing and is the layer on which finish materials, such as siding or flooring, are applied. Plywood is typically used as sheathing or roof sheathing.
Plywood is a strong thin wooden board consisting of two or more layers glued and pressed together with the direction of the grain alternating and usually sold in sheets of four by eight feet. It’s used for various types of projects and intentions. Most widely, plywood is used for wall sheathing, roof sheathing, and stair risers. The product typically comes in three thicknesses: ½”, ⅝”, and ¾”.
Plywood seems like a product that’s relatively simple to choose and a way to save money on the project by getting a lesser quality product. However, the structure of the project is arguably the most important aspect of the durability, reliability, and longevity of any structure So, here are 5 reasons why it’s worth the premium plywood:
Plywood’s quality is measured by grade, which is determined by the type of wood used, how many layers the sheet has, how the layers are bonded together and with what type of glue, and the quality of veneers applied to the exterior of the sheet. There are typically two types of plywood grades available in the US – CDX (domestic), and CCX (Canadian). All CDX plywood is 4-ply and available to be purchased in ½”, ¾”, and ⅝” thicknesses. CCX, on the other hand, is made in 4-ply for ½” thicknesses, as well as 5-ply and 6-ply for ⅝” and ¾” thicknesses. Both variations’ layers are bonded together with exterior glue, ideal for its common purpose of exterior sheathing.
(photos above: left = CDX, right = CCX)
So, what is the true difference in quality between CCX and CDX? While both CDX and CCX have a C grade front, CDX has a D grade back, while CCX has a matching C grade back, this ensures less noticeable knots and non-desirable areas for nailing. Additionally, CDX is made with 4-ply across all thicknesses, whereas CCX is more structurally sound with 5-ply and 6-ply due to its thicker thicknesses. But ultimately, and regardless of thickness, CCX is a better product for having a higher quality veneer, and fewer voids in the core by the process it’s manufactured. Most contractors in the US default to using CDX because of its ready availability, however, CCX is typically just as available, only slightly more expensive, and an overall better product for your project.
2. Durability and Stability
A sheet of plywood’s core is made up of veneer panels glued together at alternating angles to provide strength and inhibit warping. The main reason for quality plywood sheets is the quality of panels used to create the material. A CCX grade sheet is used with quality veneer panels. Because these panels are manufactured in such a way that results in fewer voids, using them to create a sheet of quality plywood results in material with a strong, void-less core. Using a product that has limited to no voids in its core results in a more durable product overall. Creating a stronger and more durable foundation for the finish trades to be adhered to will in turn make a stronger, more stable, and more durable home, addition, deck, staircase, etc
3. More surface area for fasteners
Like we mentioned, a CCX sheet of plywood has two fair grades for both the face and the back. This means a contractor can use either side of the sheet as the face or the back since they’re the same. Because both sides are face-grade, the sheet will have fewer blemishes, and no severe knots, allowing the contractor to fasten into virtually any part of the board. Additionally, because the sheet has fewer blemishes, it’s a flatter surface area for the next trade to apply their work to, making the entire project run smoother and more efficiently.
4. Less Waste
Because CCX grade plywood has fewer blemishes and is a more uniform product overall, contractors don’t have to put an entire sheet aside because it’s simply not good enough to be used on the project. Being able to measure the project, purchase the amount of product that’s needed, and apply the material not only saves money on supplies but saves money in labor time.
Typically, contractors use domestic CDX when going to sheath a house frame or build stair risers. Therefore, when the construction industry is booming and demand is high, it’s difficult to find CDX. CCX is available whenever your project is ready to start.
The structure of the project, no matter what it is, is of the utmost importance. When shopping for plywood, the premium product is well worth the extra dollars. CDX, while being well-known and widely used, is not the best option for discerning and high-end projects. CCX, with it being a higher grade, between a 5- and 6-ply product, free of major knots, and less known, makes it the better option for any project you’re working on.
Here at CCL, we prefer working with the best material out there to ensure the quality of the projects we work on for our deserving clients. Our sales team and yard staff go through product training to ensure they know their products from the inside out. Reach out to CCL today to inquire about the stock of CCX the yard currently has (anywhere between ⅜” and ¾” of 5- and 6-ply) for your next project.