By far, one of the most common pieces of building materials one can find in the lumber section of their local home improvement store is plywood. Plywood consists of up to 13 different plies of wood that are held together using powerful glue. It is significantly cheaper than solid wood, making it ideal for use in various carpentry applications ranging from subflooring and roof sheathing to furniture making.
Though anyone who has bought a sheet of plywood before understands how heavy a full sheet can be, few know exactly how much a sheet weighs. Understanding plywood weight is crucial for several reasons.
If transporting a large load of plywood, it’s important to know how many sheets your truck can carry. If using plywood to build a roof or floor, knowing how much plywood weighs ensures you stay within the weight capacity of the structure’s framing.
A standard 3/4-inch full sheet of plywood weighs about 60 pounds. In this article, we’ll examine how size, thickness, and such factors as the wood type and species impact the overall weight of plywood. We’ll also provide guidance on how to calculate plywood weight by the square foot.
- Why Is It Important to Know the Weight of Plywood?
- What Factors Impact Plywood Weight?
- How Much Does a Sheet of Plywood Weight
- Weight of Pressure Treated Plywood
- How Much Does Baltic Birch Plywood Weigh?
- How Much Does Marine Grade Plywood Weigh?
- Weight of Plywood per Square Foot
- Plywood Weight Calculator
- How Many Sheets of Plywood Can My Truck Hold?
- How Much Does a Sheet of OSB Weigh?
- How Much Does MDF Weigh?
Why Is It Important to Know the Weight of Plywood?
Plywood is used for roof sheathing as well as subfloors. Both of these structures are supported by structural framing and that framing has limits on how much weight it can hold. Applying too much weight to framing can cause serious structural problems.
Understanding how much sheets of plywood weigh can help you calculate the weight of that sheathing or subfloor, allowing you to better understand how it impacts the load capacities of the framing supporting it.
Knowing how much plywood weighs also has practical implications for transporting the plywood to the job site or from ground level to roof level.
Accurately calculating plywood weight helps you determine how many plywood sheets you can transport in a pickup truck. If you plan on hauling a piece of plywood to the roof via a ladder, it also helps you determine the weight to employ a safe method of carrying the plywood.
What Factors Impact Plywood Weight?
There are a surprising number of factors that impact plywood weight ranging from the obvious, thickness and size, to the not so obvious, wood species and density. Understanding how these factors impact the overall weight of a sheet of plywood is crucial to calculate its weight.
In this section, we’ll discuss each factor in detail.
A thicker piece of plywood will have more total material, which, of course, adds to the overall weight. Per its name, plywood is made up of multiple plies of plywood, which determines its overall thickness.
It’s important to understand that not all plywood of the same thickness has the same number of plies. A 3/4-inch piece of plywood, for example, may have between 6 and 12 plies depending on the quality of the plywood.
Though the number of plies may differ, the overall weight is about the same for plywood of the same thicknesses and wood type. A 4-foot by 8-foot softwood sheet of 1/2-inch plywood will weigh about 40 pounds, whereas a 1/2-inch sheet of hardwood plywood will weigh about 45 pounds.
A 3/4-inch sheet, another common size, weighs about 60 pounds for a softwood sheet of plywood and 68 pounds for a hardwood sheet. Thin 1/4-inch plywood weighs about 22 pounds for a softwood sheet versus 25 pounds for a hardwood sheet.
Another way of calculating the weight of plywood based on thickness is to use the general equation the American Plywood Association applies. According to the APA, a sheet of softwood plywood should weigh about 3 pounds per square foot per inch of thickness.
Keep in mind that this equation is based on actual thickness. Most plywood loses about 1/32 of an inch due to sanding.
The most obvious indicator of how much a sheet of plywood will weigh is its size. While most sheets of plywood come in standard 4-foot by 8-foot sheets, plywood is also available in half sheets and quarter sheets.
While it’s easy to look up the weight of full sheets, sometimes you may also need to calculate odd-shaped sheets.
In this case, it’s best to calculate by square foot based on the thickness and type of plywood. The table below provides the weight per square foot for softwood and hardwood sheets of plywood. By using the per-square-foot weights, you can calculate the total weight.
For example, to calculate the weight of a 3/8-inch sheet of plywood, calculate its total square footage by 0.89 pounds per square foot to get the total weight. So, a 2 foot by 3-foot piece of 3/8-inch softwood plywood would weigh about 5.3 pounds (6×0.89).
Hardwood vs. Softwood
In addition to size and thickness, wood type and species also impacts weight. Softwood is the most common type of hardwood and is the wood of choice for most structural applications such as roof sheathing and sub-flooring.
Hardwood plywood is typically reserved for use in such finishing carpentry products as furniture.
Since softwood, which includes coniferous trees such as spruce, pine, and fire, is less dense than hardwood, it is lighter than hardwoods such as birch and oak. As a general rule of thumb, hardwood plywood weighs about 10 to 11 percent more than softwood plywood.
That said, hardwood plywood weights can vary significantly depending on the type and amount of hardwood used in the plywood. Some hardwood plywoods use significantly more softwood filler than others, which makes them lighter.
For example, a piece of Baltic Birch, which is made entirely from layers of birch, weighs around 55 pounds.
Also, hardwoods have different densities and, therefore different weights. Hardwood plywood made with a birch core will be significantly denser than a hardwood piece of plywood made with a poplar core, impacting overall weight.
With that in mind, a 4-foot by 8-foot piece of 1/2-inch Baltic Plywood will weigh about 3 or 4 pounds more than a piece of hardwood plywood that uses softwood filler.
Keep this factor in mind when selecting hardwood plywood.
Treated vs. Untreated
Pressure-treated plywood is commonly used in outdoor applications where the plywood will be exposed to the elements. Since pressure-treated wood is infused with chemical preservatives that protect it from rot, decay, and insect damage, it is significantly heavier than untreated lumber.
And, since most pressure-treated plywood is made from Southern Yellow Pine, a stouter softwood that is significantly denser than other types of softwood, it is particularly heavy.
A 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of 1/2-inch pressure-treated sheet of plywood will weigh about 60 pounds, nearly 50 percent more than a sheet of standard plywood with the same dimensions.
Keep in mind that the weight of a sheet of untreated plywood will vary as it dries out. “Green” pressure-treated lumber can weigh significantly more than pressure-treated lumber that has dried out for months.
Density of Plywood
As we mentioned above when discussing the weight differences between hardwood and softwood, different wood species have different densities. Therefore, the weight of dimensional lumber with the same mass can vary greatly from species to species.
This comes into play with both hardwood and softwood plywood. Oak, for example, has a density of around 45 pounds per square foot, depending on specific species, while poplar only has a density of around 35 pounds per square foot.
This translates into a significant weight difference in a full sheet for plywood. A 4-foot by 8-foot piece of oak plywood weighs around 49 pounds, whereas a sheet of poplar plywood with the same dimensions will only weigh around 30 pounds.
These species’ weight differences are also present in different species of softwood. A 1/2-inch full sheet of dense Southern Yellow Pine will weigh around 49 pounds, while a sheet of spruce plywood weighs only about 33 pounds.
How Much Does a Sheet of Plywood Weight
Understanding how much the most commonly-used sizes of standard plywood weighs is helpful when determining the overall weight of a floor or roof or planning logistics for transporting the wood from store to site.
The most common size of plywood, 3/4-inch plywood, is used for a broad variety of structural applications ranging from roof sheathing to subflooring, to sidewalls, to finished furniture. It’s the workhorse of plywood. Expect a standard 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of softwood plywood available at most home improvement stores to weigh around 60 pounds.
A 1/2-inch thick piece of plywood, being thinner, doesn’t have the same structural integrity as thicker 3/4-inch plywood. It’s useful for applications that don’t require the plywood to support a significant amount of weight, such as closing up a broken window, replacing rotted soffit under an eave, or even some furniture. A standard full 1/2-inch sheet of plywood weighs about 40 pounds.
Thin 1/4-inch plywood bends fairly easily under weight, making it suitable for use in applications where the plywood does not need to support much weight. This includes backing for shelving or cabinets or smaller crafts projects. A sheet of 1/4-inch plywood weighs about 22 pounds.
Thin 1/8-inch plywood is typically available as Lauan, a tropical hardwood panel used to create a paintable or stainable smooth and sanded finished veneer on built-ins, furniture, or wood paneling or facing for doors.
Lauan plywood is also very bendable, making it ideal for As 1/8-inch plywood breaks fairly easily, it cannot be used to support the weight. A sheet of Lauan plywood weighs about 15 pounds.
This heavy plywood is designed specifically for use as subflooring. It often comes with a tongue and groove end, making it easier to securely fit floor panels together. Of course, due to its thickness, 1-1/8-inch plywood is also very heavy, with a full sheet weighing about 85 pounds.
Weight of Pressure Treated Plywood
As discussed in detail above, the liquid chemicals used to protect this type of plywood from the elements significantly increase weight. Of course, treated plywood, like all treated lumber, dries over time and becomes lighter.
“Green” pressure-treated lumber that is fresh from the lumber mill can weigh nearly 50 percent more than a standard sheet of untreated lumber. A 1/2-inch thick full-sheet of plywood that weighs 40 pounds can weigh upwards of 60 pounds when treated.
How Much Does Baltic Birch Plywood Weigh?
This high-quality type of plywood, produced in Russia, is renowned for its strength. Baltic plywood is made of all plywood with no fillers, making it very strong even at thinner thicknesses. This makes it suitable for durable furniture and even skateboards. Because it is denser than other types of plywood, it weighs more. A 1/2-inch sheet of Baltic Birch plywood weighs around 55 pounds.
How Much Does Marine Grade Plywood Weigh?
While marine plywood is not waterproof, it does use higher quality outer plies that protect the wood from the elements. The glue used to make standard plywood is prone to coming apart in humid coastal environments. Marine-grade plywood uses a higher quality glue that better resists moisture.
This higher quality material means marine-grade plywood weighs more than the standard variety. A 1/2-inch full sheet of plywood weighs about 50 pounds.
Weight of Plywood per Square Foot
If a little math doesn’t intimidate you, then calculating plywood weight yourself isn’t that difficult once you know what values to use. To determine the total weight, you need to know the weight per square foot of the plywood.
One square foot of 1/2-inch plywood weighs about 1.3 pounds. If you multiply that amount by the square footage of the plywood, you can determine the overall weight. For example, a full sheet of 1/2-inch plywood weighs about 41 pounds (32 x 1.3).
More weights per square foot are available in the chart above. While these calculations may not be necessary when dealing with full sheets of plywood, they can make planning the weight of larger areas you plan to cover with plywood, such as a roof or floor.
For example, if you know the area of your roof is 1,500 square feet, you can easily calculate the weight of the roof sheathing. The sheathing on a 1,500-square foot roof that’s using 3/4-inch plywood would weigh about 2,850 pounds (1.9 x 1,500).
Plywood Weight Calculator
If math isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There are several plywood weight calculators available online for free that will allow you to calculate the weight by entering the thickness, length, and width.
Just keep in mind that calculating the weight of plywood is never precise, as the weight of wood can vary on a day-to-day basis based on the amount of moisture in the wood fibers.
How Many Sheets of Plywood Can My Truck Hold?
Determining the weight of plywood is crucial for such practical purposes as transporting a load of plywood from point A to point B. By calculating the total weight of a sheet of plywood, you can determine how many sheets a pickup truck can carry before exceeding its weight limit.
Simply divide the truck’s payload capacity by the weight of one sheet of plywood.
For example, most 1/2-ton pickup trucks have a max payload of 1,000 pounds. If you’re carrying standard 3/4-inch plywood that weighs about 60 pounds a sheet, that means the truck can carry a maximum of 16 sheets of plywood (1,000 / 60). A one-ton pick-up truck, in comparison, can handle twice that amount.
How Much Does a Sheet of OSB Weigh?
OSB competes with plywood as one of the main materials used for roof and wall sheathing and subflooring. This is due mainly to the fact that OSB is significantly cheaper than plywood. Whereas plywood consists of thin plies of wood glued together, OSB is made up of small strips of wood that are held together with adhesive and wax.
Though cheaper, OSB is harder to work with because it is significantly heavier. Whereas a 1/2-inch full sheet of plywood weighs about 40 pounds, a 1/2-inch sheet of OSB weighs close to 55 pounds.
How Much Does MDF Weigh?
MDF is made up of very small fibers of wood taken from waste that are combined with wax and adhesives to form panels. Though these panels are much denser than plywood or OSB, they are also susceptible to water. MDF puffs up when it becomes wet, permanently damaging it. An MDF panel’s high resin content makes it some of the heavier building materials. A full 4-foot by 8-foot 1/2-inch sheet of MDF weighs nearly 70 pounds.
While it may not be necessary to know the weight of a sheet or two of plywood for a smaller DIY project, understanding the weight of this commonly used lumber is crucial for structural applications such as building a new floor or roof.
By using the guidelines in this article to help you determine plywood’s weight, you can make fairly precise weight determinations. These calculations can help you stay within the weight capacity of a structure’s floor and roof if installing sheathing, subfloor, or your pick-up truck transporting lumber.