What is radiata pine plywood? Is it softwood or hardwood? These are just a couple of the most commonly asked questions about this popular forestry product. In this article, we provide a complete guide to radiata pine plywood, including its many benefits and some of its most popular uses.
Radiata Pine Plywood Features
Pine, including Radiata, is softwood. Its availability and versatility combine with ease of use, making it a very popular choice for decorative as well as construction use.
Most radiata pine products display wide annual growth rings that are a testament to the species’ rapid maturation rate. The heartwood usually shows coloration between yellow and light brown, while the sapwood has a color that’s closer to white or pale yellow.
Like most other woods, Radiata pine is not naturally termite-resistant. When this plywood is used in exterior applications, preservatives must be applied to enhance durability and prevent damage from insects, fungi, and rot.
Radiata Pine Plywood vs. Birch Plywood
Radiata and birch are two of the most popular plywood products available. Both are versatile, and both can be quite attractive. Here’s a quick comparison. Note that these factors are general. Both radiata pine and birch come in different grades, with quite a bit of variation across the spectrum.
Price: Radiata pine is generally cheaper than birch.
Color: Birch usually has a lighter color.
Grain: Birch’s grain is tighter.
Face veneer: Birch usually has a thicker face veneer.
General appearance: Baltic birch tends to offer a cleaner look. Both can be attractive, so this factor is a matter of personal preference.
Common defects: Baltic birch sometimes has oval or “football” shaped patches. It sometimes displays mineral streaks, irregular patches, or pin knots. Even the highest grade of Baltic birch plywood makes allowances for patches, so double-check stock before purchasing. Radiata pine plywood often has a clean, sanded face without patches. Higher grades typically display far fewer knots. Double-check stock when appearance is an important factor for your project.
Ability to take finishes: Radiata pine plywood takes finish faster and easier than birch.
Sheet size: Most radiata pine plywood comes in standard 4×8 sheets; many Baltic birch plywood sheets measure 5×5, as they are mostly manufactured with the needs of the European cabinetry market in mind.
Radiata Pine Plywood Benefits
You may be wondering about the advantages of radiata pine. Also known as Insignis or Monterey pine, this conifer belongs to the Pinaceae family. Like other pine, it is both versatile and fast-growing. Radiata pine can be cut radially, so each tree harvested delivers plenty of timber. These qualities make it the most widely planted “plantation” pine in the world, and in turn, availability makes radiata pine a cost-effective choice. It is typically cheaper than yellow pine, yet it offers desirable lumber properties.
Most of the world’s radiata pine plantation forests are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. Additionally, afforestation with radiata pine trees can rehabilitate damaged soil and improve its condition, even after soil has been intensively farmed with other crops or compacted by livestock.
Radiata pine density is medium. This wood is generally durable, and the layers of structural adhesive found in radiata pine plywood impart additional strength.
Besides sustainability, widespread availability, and affordability, radiata pine is easy to work with. Its grain is relatively straight, and just like most other pine products, it takes a variety of finishes easily. It is easier to cut and carve than many other woods, and its ability to accept stain and paint can cut back on finish drying time so projects can be expedited.
Like all other wood, radiata pine has a few disadvantages to be aware of. Like most other pine products, radiata is known for its tendency to have knots. Its medium density means that it can be damaged easier than hardwood, but again, that’s a characteristic common to most softwoods. Just like most other forestry products, radiata pine plywood is subject to damage caused by moisture. Using treated radiata plywood reduces the risk of rot significantly.
Pay close attention to grade and keep an eye out for obvious damage during the selection process, and you’ll emerge with plywood and other products that readily stand up to the task at hand.
Radiata Pine Plywood Uses
Depending on the grade, radiata pine plywood can be used for making shelving and furniture. It is also used for framing, lining, making glue laminate beams, and supporting veneer. Again, depending on the quality and appearance, you may also be able to use radiata pine plywood for cabinets. You can save money while enjoying this wood’s naturally beautiful appearance by purchasing AC grade radiata pine plywood, which has an A-grade sanded veneer face, C-grade cores, and a C-grade back. AC radiata pine is also used for underlayment.
Select AraucoPly plywood panels are made from plantation-grown Radiata pine that has been carefully pruned to produce pine logs that offer light-colored faces with fewer knots than most other pine plywood products. These panels offer the natural look of wood, yet they are infused with phenolic resin that provides a clean, decorative finish on its own. These panels are well-suited to a variety of interior and exterior applications including decorative paneling, cabinetry, and furniture.
Other manufacturers offer a variety of radiata pine plywood products as well. Look for exterior AC grade radiata pine plywood for outdoor use in construction projects, soffits, fences, and more. Since this type of treated radiata pine plywood resists moisture, it is suitable for applications such as outbuildings, lining commercial boxcars and trucks, lining commercial refrigerators, and more.
The Takeaway: Should You Use Radiata Pine Plywood in Your Projects?
Durable, affordable, and easy to find, this plywood is also an eco-friendly choice. Since there are so many uses for radiata pine plywood in interior and exterior applications alike, it makes sense to put it to use when appropriate.