Along with framing lumber, trim, and drywall, you may find uses for different types of sheet stock. This category includes plywood, particleboard, oriented strand board (OSB), medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and medium-density overlay (MDO). These products come in 4x8-foot sheets, in thicknesses from 1/8 to 1-1/4 inches (although the thickest and the thinnest sizes may be harder to find). Along with full sheets, many home centers offer quarter and half sheets.
With all these options, it can be difficult to choose the right sheet stock for your project. We'll help you navigate the wood aisle by explaining the different types of sheet stock, showing you how to read a plywood stamp, and providing important tips for moving sheets.
Other sheet goods are not as recognizable as wood, although they are wood products.
When shopping for construction plywood, look for a grading stamp that says "APA The Engineered Wood Association." This stamp's meaning varies according to the intended use of the panel. For example, if the plywood is graded for sheathing outside walls, it will include the stud spacing on which it should be attached. For interior remodeling, the appearance of the face veneers is most important. Here are the characteristics of each face grade:
A — A smooth, paintable veneer free of knots and possessing only neatly made repairs that are parallel to the grain. It can be finished with a clear coat (rather than paint).
B — A solid-surface veneer that allows only small round knots, patches, and round repairs. Acceptable for the inside surfaces of a painted shelving unit.
C — Allows small knots, knotholes, and patches. Probably not used for an exposed face inside the house unless you are going for a rustic look. The lowest grade allowed for permanent exterior exposure.
D — This veneer can include large knots and knotholes. Acceptable only for a hidden face, such as the surface of a sheathing panel that faces inside the wall.
Sheets of plywood aren't very heavy, but carrying them can be awkward because of their 4-foot width. A panel carrier, which hooks under the sheet and extends your reach, gives you better control and helps prevent back strain. The tool is available at home centers and hardware stores.