If you’re in the market for marine grade plywood, it’s important to communicate with your dealer about your requirements. If your dealer doesn’t ask you for more information, don’t walk — run the other way. There’s so much variation within the general category of what’s allowed to be considered “marine grade,” that you could easily end up with something that will either fall apart on you or cost you far more than you should really have to pay.
In discerning the type of marine grade plywood that you need, a few considerations include the level of water resistance, weight, strength, and bending ability needed. Face veneer species we carry at J Gibson McIlvain include Douglas Fir, Meranti, Okoume, and Sapele. Plywood core will typically be Douglas Fir, Meranti, or Okoume.
Douglas Fir Marine Grade Plywood
The least expensive marine grade plywood option, Douglas Fir has exceptional bending ability, amazing strength, and medium weight. It will have no voids in the core, but its face may have up to five repairs or patches. If you’re familiar with the former grading category of BS6566, that grade could be used to describe Douglas Fir marine grade plywood. It’s an excellent choice for applications in which appearance isn’t important.
Despite patches and knots on the face of Douglas Fir plywood, it can still meet the standards for weather and boil proof glue (WBP) required for classification as marine grade ply. At the same time, Douglas Fir does have the distinctions between early and late growth common to softwoods; the resulting unevenness in the surface can be apparent even through an epoxied or fiberglass surface. So, in short, Douglas Fir marine grade plywood won’t delaminate when used in marine applications, but it won’t look good enough for finish work.
Bruynzeel Okoume Gaboon Marine Grade Plywood
Comparable to the BS1088 grading category that was once used for marine grade plywood, Bruynzeel Okoume Gaboon plywood (view PDF) has a much more pristine appearance than does Douglas Fir plywood. It’s truly the best product on the market for use in boat building. An African species similar to Mahogany, Okoume Gaboon is a species with ideal characteristics for marine applications: tight grain, consistent face, light weight, and remarkable weather resistance. When treated with WBP melamine glue and laminated with an Okoume Gaboon core, Bruynzeel Okoume Gaboon marine grade plywood is not only lightweight and durable, but it finishes as smoothly as glass.
Sapele Marine Grade Plywood
Manufactured with standards identical to Okoume plywood, Sapele marine grade plywood has an inner core that’s completely free from defects and comprised entirely of Sapele. Worthy of the same BS1088 rating, Sapele plywood has a face that’s made from rotary cut Sapele, perfect for stain grade projects. Rotary cut Sapele offers the unique characteristic of producing a continuous, seam-free sheet, allowing it to meet the difficult standards of BS1088. Because Sapele has higher density, this option is both more durable and heavier weight than Okoume. When appearance is at the forefront, though, this product is your best bet.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.