All you have to do is check out the wide range of pricing among hardwood plywood suppliers to realize that there’s quite a disparity of quality, as well. The culprit, we believe, is a confusing grading system that results in the same grade being used to represent an incredible spectrum of quality levels.
This situation causes concern among many builders, as well it should. The quality of hardwood plywood you use directly impacts the longevity of your workmanship and by extension, your good reputation. If you’re concerned about how to make sure that the plywood you purchase is exactly what you need, you need to take these four steps in understanding and making the most of the current plywood grading system.
Step 1: Understanding the Current Grading System
If you want to take on the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Association (HPVA) and create a more reliable and useful grading system, then we say more power to you! We at McIlvain Company will cheer you on wholeheartedly! Otherwise, though, you need to at least familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the current system.
Unlike the grading system in place for solid wood, the HPVA grading system includes assigning an alphabet letter to describe the front face grade and an Arabic numeral to denote the back face. For example, the highest grade would be A-1. As you might expect, imperfections lead to lower grades.
Step 2: Noticing the Limitations of the System
If you think the HPVA’s grading system sounded simple and straightforward, you’re right. So what’s the problem? Well, this system is actually too simple. While describing the front and back faces of solid wood boards makes perfect sense, plywood is an entirely different product.
The HPVA grading system ignores the fact that the core material and ply construction have great bearing on the quality of a given sheet of plywood. Manufacturers know that the only aspects that will affect the grading will be the faces, so the current grading system actually encourages them to skimp on what they know won’t affect the grading, even though skimping on the core material can make a sheet of plywood extremely low quality.
Step 3: Avoiding Low-Priced Plywood
Of course, those manufacturers who use sub-par core and construction can afford to price their plywood lower than others. However, because of the flawed grading system, as long as the faces are decent, this low price (and low quality) plywood will have the with the same grade as a higher quality board—a dilemma if there ever was one!
However, remember the old adages like “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” and “You get what you pay for.” Well, they’re oft-quoted because they embody truth. When you see two differently priced sheets of hardwood plywood labeled with an identical grade, you can be sure that the less expensive one is lower in quality as well.
Step 4: Using a Trusted Supplier
While pricing can be somewhat of a guide to quality plywood, market fluctuations can make that measuring stick less than reliable as a guide. If you find a supplier you can trust to handle only top-quality lumber products, you can be sure that the hardwood plywood you purchase is exactly what you need each time you purchase it. With a centuries-long reputation for consistency, J. Gibson McIlvain now offers our long-time customers a reputable source for premium plywood.
When it comes to plywood, you can join the ranks of contractors and builders everywhere who have come to rely on McIlvain Company for all of their lumber needs. For over 200 years, McIlvain has been in industry leader, a competitor without rival in the quality lumber industry. Their dedicated order specialists, who assist customers with their orders from start to finish, and their unparalleled expertise make McIlvain the go-to source for top-notch domestic and exotic hardwoods and softwoods. And with their vast inventory and nationwide shipping, you’ll never have a reason to shop anywhere else. For more information and to see McIlvain’s full line of products and services, click here to visit their website today, or check out these selections from the McIlvain Lumber Blog: