On Trend: Exposed Plywood

by Nicole Hodsdon

On Trend: Exposed Plywood

Exposed plywood walls are definitely not for the faint of heart.  Even the biggest plywood fans (ahem, us!) can see the benefits of being prudent with the warm wood tones and grain patterns.  Too much can feel like a cave, but with the right complements, exposed plywood looks fantastic!  If your space has the clean lines and plenty of natural light to pull it off, we think the exposed plywood look can be gorgeous!  Here are some ideas for how to make plywood look great.

Exposed Plywood

(Fox Lumber NJ)


The most important decision to make is the plywood variety or species.  This determines the final look you’re going to get.  If you’re after a bold, warm, wavy grain pattern with lots of contrast, rotary cut fir or pine are the way to go.  Birch, ash, or maple plywood in a flat cut or plain slice cut will offer a lighter, cleaner, more uniform look.

After deciding on the look you want and the variety of wood, you will want to decide on the grade.  Plywood grade ranges from A - the cleanest, easiest to finish, and most expensive, to D - which has lots of knots, and will require lots of sanding and layers of finish, but also least expensive.  If your budget isn't too tight, you'll likely want to get Grade A or AB Sanded Plywood.  It will save you a lot of time and effort sanding and finishing and pulling slivers out of your fingers.  For the budget conscious, BC plywood is a solid choice because it is a lower price point and it has a sanded finish on one side.

Plywood Grades


We’ve collected our favorite exposed plywood spaces below.  Take a look and be inspired!
Hem co-founder Petrus Palmer's kitchen with plywood shelving and cabinet doors (Curbed)
A San Jose, CA Eichler retains it's original charm (Houzz)
A Tomohiro Hata designed plywood home in Japan (Dezeen)
A Hip, Low-Key Kitchen in Topanga Canyon (Remodelista)
Can't Get Enough of these Bent Ply Walls (houzz)
Plywood walls cozy up this living room (houzz)

Nicole Hodsdon
Nicole Hodsdon