Weight plays a part in woodworking, notwithstanding the fact we tend to think of woodworking as being length and width as we reach for our measuring tape or combination square on a workpiece. This is especially true of plywood in a construction setting.

We first have to get the plywood to the jobsite. How many can we fit in our pickup truck? How much weight can our pickup truck support and transport safely? How are we going to get that piece of plywood up on the roof for sheathing? Can we lift that piece of plywood ourselves, or will we need help? Will we need help holding up that sheet of plywood to the framing for sidewall installation?

Some of these considerations involve the dimensions of a sheet of plywood, usually 4’ x 8’, and our strength. But most will have to do with its weight.

The structural strength of the framing will determine the weight it can safely support, and so the weight will also be an important consideration in engineering the framework for the structure we are building. Many factors weigh in (pun intended) when calculating the amount to be supported, and today we will cover some of them and give you some actual figures to work with when considering those factors.

## What Is Plywood?

We’ve written of this in the past, most recently about edge banding plywood, and you can find some of those past articles here, here, and in a detailed piece on grading and rating plywood here.

We’ve all worked with plywood at some point in our woodworking projects and have a pretty good idea of what it is. It’s a manufactured wood product made from veneers, or “plies,” and thus its name.

These veneers are glued together with each ply having its grain rotated 90 degrees. This rotating of alternating plies adds strength to the plywood in all directions across the boards, as well as reducing its expansion and contraction as its environment changes from hot to cold.

The types of plywood will refer to the number of layers, usually in odd numbers, such as 3-ply, 5-ply, and multi-ply. The plies are real wood fiber glued together with a resin to form the panels into 4’ x 8’ sheets, although smaller specialty sheets (for cabinet construction, for instance) are available, too.

The dimensional numbers for plywood can be just a little bit misleading in the same way that 2” x 4”s is a misleading representation. The higher grades of plywood are sanded well, and this will reduce the thickness by a millimeter or two, just as a 2 x 4 is actually 1 ½ x 3 ½.

One other thing to mention is that the cover ply, the one that will be seen, is most often of a higher quality than the core layers. Core layers may even be a different wood than the cover ply, perhaps softwood plies with a hardwood ply for the top layer.

We mention all of this because the resin weight, the core wood, the top layer, and the loss due to sanding will all have a bearing on the actual weight of a standard 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood. Even the process of pressure-treating plywood will have an effect on its weight separate and apart from the type of wood(s) used in its manufacturing. We’ll examine these further as we move along.

## The Factors That Determine Plywood Weight

The obvious factors of size and thickness, just as they affect our own weight, affect the weight of plywood sheets, and we also add to that the wood species and density. Glue is glue, but with so much glue used in the manufacturing process to hold the plies together, this will also impact the weight. Clearly, the more plies there are the more glue that will be used to hold them all together.

### Thickness of Plywood

While this might seem a no-brainer, there actually are some brains required with regard to the thickness of a plywood sheet.

We know that plywood is made up of multiple layers or plies. However, if we look at a ¾“, 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood closely, we may find between 6 and 12 plies. This would be determined by the quality of the plywood. The more plies, the more glue will be needed to hold it together.

The type of wood that makes up that thickness will also impact its weight. We’ll stay with the ¾”, 4’ x 8’ sheet here and tell you that a plywood of softwood manufacture will weigh around 60 lbs, but a plywood of hardwood manufacture will come in heavier at around 68 lbs.

The American Plywood Association uses an equation to determine the weight for softwood plywood of 3 lbs per square foot per 1 inch of thickness. We did the math, and our calculator tells us this gets us “around 60 lbs” for a ¾” x “4’ x 8’ sheet of softwood plywood.

For technical accuracy, this equation uses the next thickness since the higher quality plywoods will be nicely sanded and in the sanding process, will lose about 1/32“ in thickness.

### Size of the Plywood Sheet as Affecting Weight

We’ve used a ¾“, 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood as the standard for our discussion today, but we know that plywood sheets will also come in specialized sizes, especially for cabinetry work, in half-sheet and quarter-sheet sizes. And, some of the plywood will be lost in the cutting down to those sizes, on top of the lost thickness from sanding.

For the smaller-sized sheets, the formula becomes a little different, then. Breaking down the weight measurement by a per-square-foot measurement, the math says a softwood plywood sheet will calculate to be 1.9 lbs per square foot, with a hardwood plywood sheet to be 2.19 lbs per square foot. Again, this will be for a ¾“ plywood thickness.

- 2’ x 3’ plywood sheet, softwood = 6 sq ft times 1.9 lbs, or 11.4 lbs
- 2’ x 3’ plywood sheet, hardwood = 6 sq ft times 2.19 lbs, or 13.1 lbs

### Hardwood vs Softwood Plywood Sheet Weight

As mentioned earlier, wood type and its density will also have a bearing on the weight of plywood sheets. Softwood plywood is the more common type of plywood and is most often used in building construction for roof sheathing and subflooring applications. Hardwood plywood is the more common choice for more refined carpentry uses in the making of furniture and cabinets.

Softwoods are less dense than hardwoods (pine and spruce vs. birch and oak, for instance) and, generally speaking, will be lighter than hardwoods. You can expect a difference of between 10% – 11% difference between the two.

However, there are other considerations here. The core plies in sheets will often be softwood (less expensive), whereas the top layer, the ply that will be seen, will be a hardwood like Baltic birch. These sheets will weigh much less than if all the plies were Baltic birch.

Among hardwoods, too, there is a variety of densities to consider that will affect the weight of a sheet of plywood. A hardwood plywood of entirely Baltic birch plies will weigh much more than a hardwood plywood, the core plies of which might be poplar.

A sheet of Baltic birch plywood will weigh around 4 lbs more than a hardwood plywood sheet with a softwood core, to give a specific example.

### Pressure-Treated vs Untreated Plywood Affecting Weight

If you’ve done outside construction work, you know that pressure-treated plywood is often used for those applications where it will have exposure to the elements. Just as we use pressure-treated pine in backyard deck construction, so would we use pressure-treated plywood when building the shed beside it where we store our garden tools?

We’ve written about pressure-treated lumber in past articles, and you can find an article on pressure-treated wood and its water resistance here.

Most pressure-treated wood is Southern Yellow Pine, which is denser than many other softwoods. As such, it will also be heavier than them.

A sheet of “green” (uncured) pressure-treated plywood can weigh nearly 50% more than standard untreated plywood; it will lose some of its weight during the curing (drying) process as the liquid injected and pressurized during the treatment evaporates. That is still a significant weight difference.

### Density of Wood as Affecting Plywood Weight

Density, too, plays a part in differentiating among different plywoods of even the same type of wood – softwood vs hardwood.

Oak, for instance, is generally heavier than poplar, both hardwoods and the weight differential for their plywoods can be 49 lbs vs 30 lbs for a 4’ x 8’ sheet.

Southern Yellow Pine, as another example, is generally heavier than spruce, both softwoods, and the weight differential can be 49 lbs vs 33 lbs for a 4’ x 8’ sheet.

### Marine Plywood Weight Affected By Glue

The glue used to make standard plywood sheets is not strong and durable enough to be used in making marine plywood – used to make boats, for instance. As a consequence, marine plywood uses a much stronger glue that stands up well to water.

This glue, though, will contribute to a greater weight as compared with standard plywood sheets of the same size.

## The Plywood Weight Chart

Those are a lot of words, we know. So, we prepared a very basic chart to put all of those numbers in a single place for your easy reference.

### Plywood Weight Chart

Type of Plywood | 1/4″ | 3/8″ | 1/2″ | 5/8″ | 3/4″ |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Softwood | 22 lbs | 28 lbs | 40 1/2 lbs | 48 lbs | 61 lbs |

Hardwood | 24 1/2 lbs | 31 1/2 lbs | 45 lbs | 53 lbs | 67 1/2 lbs |

Marine | 27 lbs | 35 lbs | 50 lbs | 59 lbs | 75 lbs |

Baltic Birch | 26 lbs | 33 lbs | 48 lbs | 56 1/2 lbs | 71 1/2 lbs |

Particle Board | 33 lbs | 43 lbs | 61 lbs | 72 lbs | 91 lbs |

The weights of 4’ x 8’ plywood sheets of various types and thicknesses. Particle board was added simply for comparison purposes. In casual conversation, weights are often rounded, such that ½“ might simply be referred to as 40 lbs, and ¾“ as 60 lbs.

We have no video to share with you today, as we could not find one that was truly on point. The chart, however, tells you what you need to know and will serve as a handy reference point for you.

We started off discussing practical considerations of transporting plywood, lifting plywood, holding plywood in place while it’s being secured, carrying it up ladders for roof sheathing, and more. These are all important considerations, to be sure.

The weight of plywood is most important when designing and engineering construction projects, though, and not so much in the home woodworking shop for those of us who build desks for our children, shelving in the den or study, and cabinets for either the kitchen or the workshop.

Still, it is important and helpful information to have handy, and it will make you sound smart when you can run through the numbers. So bookmark this page so you can return to the Plywood Weight Chart in the future.