What is the best wood for Marine Grade Plywood?

Posted by OHC Team on March 09, 2016

Consider a boat: immersed in water, misted with caustic ocean spray, and pummeled by aggressive waves, one after another. Could there be a harsher, less friendly environment for wood? And yet wood is a prized boat-building material, spanning from the earliest boats carved out of logs to today’s highly technical yachts. Marine lumber must have specific characteristics such as strength, resistance to rot, and the ability to hold glue and fasteners well.

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Many species of wood meet these requirements, but we believe that Okoume is the best possible species for use in Marine-Grade Plywood. 

Okoume is lightweight, doesn’t easily deteriorate in wet conditions, and is handsome enough to add beauty to any boat. Its grain is highly prized, is often compared to Mahogany and can be varnished to use decoratively. It can also be overlaid with a Teak or Ipe veneer. Okoume Marine Grade Plywood is typically used in combination with epoxy and fiberglass to increase strength while remaining lightweight, and can be found on a variety of boats, from single-person kayak builders to some of the world’s largest boat builders.

Marine Grade Plywood is used most typically for hull construction, but can also be used in interior applications. Although the outside of the boat battles the elements quite forcefully, the interior of a boat also needs to withstand moisture and humidity.

Okoume resists rot and performs well in damp conditions inside the boat thanks to its natural properties as well as the lamination process.

Both the wood and the plywood glue must meet specific standards to be considered marine grade. OHC uses Weather and Boil Proof (WBP) glue. Plywood assembled with WBP glue must be able to withstand boiling in water for several hours without delamination. The ability of a plywood to resist delamination under boiling depends not only on the quality of the glue, but also on the materials used and the quality of care used in its manufacturing. It is normally laminated with a ‘phenol-formaldehyde resin’ which sets permanently under heat and pressure. 

OHC’s Marine Grade Plywood meets BS-1088 specifications, which is the highest standard.

These British standards require that the plywood be made from untreated tropical hardwood veneers that have a stated level of resistance to fungal growth. The glue used must be resistant not only to weather, water, and heat, but also to micro-organisms that can deteriorate strength. Face veneers must also have a solid surface without open defects. By meeting BS-1088 specifications, OHC’s Marine Grade Plywood can be insured by Lloyd’s of London.

To build the best boats, the best quality Marine Grade Plywood must be used. Using a better grade will result in a higher value (including resale value), increased longevity of the boat, and a reduction in building time.

For the best quality boats, OHC’s Marine Grade Plywood, made with Okoume, is the obvious choice.


 

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