Plywood is a commonly used building material. The lightweight nature of plywood panels is often an attractive quality in the eyes of the DIY-minded homeowner because it makes the installation of these panels that much easier.

Choosing the right type of plywood panels is just as important as ensuring that the panels are installed correctly. This article discusses three things that a homeowner should look for when shopping for plywood panels.

The PAA Mark Of Certification

Plywood manufacturers are required to ensure that their products adhere to high quality standards. In order to establish this adherence (or lack thereof), various properties of a plywood panel have to be tested.

The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) is responsible for testing the quality of plywood panels fabricated by different manufacturers. Panels that pass the quality test are stamped with a mark of certification on the surface of the panel.

The PAA mark of certification also includes information on the type of application for which a particular panel is suitable (e.g. exterior plywood, structural plywood and interior plywood).

A PAA-certified plywood panel is more likely to live up to its performance expectations than one that lacks this certification.

The R Value Or The Thermal Mass

The R-value is a measure of the level of insulation that a plywood panel will provide, while thermal mass refers to the ability of plywood panels to store heat.

The R-value is an important consideration for homeowners shopping for interior plywood panels. Interior plywood panels with higher R-values will provide a greater degree of insulation, thereby preventing un-necessary loss of heat from inside the house. Homeowners can establish the R-values of different plywood panels by confirming from the plywood distributor.

On the other hand, the thermal mass of plywood panels is of great importance for exterior panels. In the ideal situation, the installation of exterior wall panels should not increase the thermal mass of the residential building. In order to achieve this, homeowners are advised to settle for plywood panels that have a lower heat capacity and that are of lower density.

The Fire Rating

Unfortunately, the installation of plywood inside and/or around the house may be a fire hazard because plywood panels are often readily combustible. For this reason, plywood panels often have frame-spread ratings. This rating measures the rate at which fire will spread through the panel in the event of fire. A higher rating indicates greater resistance to the spreading action of fire.

Homeowners shouldn't shy off from asking the plywood distributor about any of the features discussed above before they make payments for their purchase.