7 Plywood Alternatives

Aug 31, 2021 | Home Improvement Repair, Skills Specialties, Woodworking

Plywood is the most commonly used material in furniture projects, but it’s not always the best choice. 

For one thing, plywood can be expensive and difficult to work with. It also tends to warp over time when exposed to moisture or humidity. There are a lot of alternatives that are more affordable and easier to use for DIY projects, and we’ll go over our favorites in this post!

1. MDF (Medium Density Fiberwood)

MDF is a great choice for those on budget and looking to buy furniture. This type of wood can be painted easily which means you won’t have to worry about how well the paint will take to it, but still offers affordable prices that are perfect if your changing taste. Use this material if you’re looking to make a coffee table or side table.

Since MDF doesn’t contract and expand with humidity or temperature changes, this means that your project will stay nice and sturdy. Plus, since many of its components are recycled wood instead of new lumber, choosing an environmentally-friendly option couldn’t be easier.

2. Particle Board

If you like the idea of plywood without the high price, then particle board might be a better option for you. This type of wood is made from waste lumber and other scraps, but it tends to be slightly more expensive than MDF because of its density.

Some particleboard densities are very heavy and can hold a lot of weight, while others aren’t quite as sturdy and tend to warp easily as well as dent much easier than MDF or true plywood. The tighter the particles in it, the better your project will look after painting with lots of details. If cost is your main deciding factor for buying furniture then go with particleboard.

3. EKOply

Eco-friendly isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of life that everyone is embracing and one company has made this concept the face of their brand – EKOply.  Their products are 100% recycled materials that go without creating any waste when manufactured. They’re also resistant to natural rot and corrosion making them as eco-friendly as they look – unlike traditional timber sheets.

There’s no need to worry about warping or cracking when exposed to moisture or humidity, but you will have to keep your eye on it if you use harsh chemicals or cleaners around it because these can leach into its pores and damage your furniture over time. You can get solid wood furniture in different finishes and colors, as well as panels in a variety of light and dark colors to match your home’s décor.

4. Solid Wood

Solid wood is the most traditional option for furniture projects because it’s easy to work with when you’re trying to get that professional look and feel. It tends to hold its value much better than other materials like MDF or particleboard if you plan on selling it later on down the line since they’re commonplace in stores now days making them much less rare than solid wood pieces.

You can use solid wood for just about anything – from tables and chairs to bar stools and dining room sets similar to what you’d see at a higher-end furniture shop. Before you start any project, make sure that you have the proper tools on hand otherwise it will take twice as long to finish. Make sure you have the right blades for your saws because cutting large pieces of wood can dull them quickly and increase the chance of an accident.

Safety is key when using a table saw, so make sure not to overload this machine or use a blade that’s too small for your project – doing so could cause serious injury.

5. Reinforced Polyurethane Foam Boards

If you’re looking to save money and still get a similar look, then this type of wood might be the best option for you. These panels are easy to sand and can be painted if your design requires it. Since these boards are made from recycled materials, they tend to not hold their value as well as solid wood furniture pieces since they don’t have much character like an antique desk that’s been passed down two or three generations.

As far as beauty goes, these aren’t generally considered a pretty material unless there’s a grain or interesting pattern in the board – but this doesn’t mean your project won’t turn out great! Make sure you choose what works best for you and your budget when making any project; there’s no right or wrong answer.

6. OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

OSB is a material that’s considered a step up from particleboard, but not quite as good as plywood. It’s made from recycled wood products and is very versatile so you can cut it to any size or shape your project requires without the fear of warping.

You’ll find OSB on many walls because it’s easy to work with and inexpensive, plus it doesn’t warp like plywood which means there won’t be any creaking noises on the wall where it was installed – talk about convenience! It can also withstand water damage with no issues making this an ideal option for kitchen updates such as installing new cabinets, countertops, and even flooring if you’re looking for something that can hold up to the water and grease from cooking.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to add some character and personality to your living space, OSB is an excellent option that’s usually inexpensive compared to its other options – but keep in mind that it will have a shorter lifespan than solid wood pieces.

7. HDF (High-Density Fiberboard)

HDF is a panel that’s mostly used outside of the United States because it was created in Japan. It comes in a variety of colors and thicknesses to give you multiple options when making your furniture piece, but it tends to be more brittle than plywood if not handled with care. When buying this type of wood, make sure it has no moisture damage before you buy since it will crack or warp over time if water ever gets to its core. This board is porous so extra care must be taken when using chemicals or cleaners around it – otherwise, it could get damaged pretty easily.

It might look like particleboard, so make sure to ask the seller about its strength before you buy; some sellers might try to sell you particleboard when you’re looking for HDF. The best way to tell the difference is by weight – particleboard has a density of about 75 pounds per cubic foot and HDF has a density of about 100 pounds per cubic foot so it’s much stronger than its cheaper counterpart.


In conclusion, there are many types of boards you can choose from when making your furniture piece. We recommend you to use solid wood because it has the most character and is the most durable. Plywood is also a really great option and OSB is a good alternative for those looking for something that’s inexpensive yet strong.


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