What Plywood Is Used for Roofing

What Plywood Is Used for Roofing

In the construction industry, plywood has long been the preferred choice for roofing due to its strength, durability, and ease of installation.

 This versatile material, made from thin layers of wood veneer bonded together, provides a reliable and sturdy base for shingles, tiles, or other roofing materials. 

The type of plywood used can significantly impact the longevity and performance of a roof, making its selection an important aspect of any roofing project.

While there are various types of plywood available in the market, not all are suitable for roofing purposes. The choices range from softwood plywood, such as pine, cedar, and spruce, to hardwood plywood like birch, maple, and oak.


 Furthermore, plywood is also classified based on its grade and the type of adhesive used for bonding the layers together.

 The grade indicates the quality and appearance of the plywood, while the adhesive type can affect its moisture resistance—a critical factor to consider for roofing applications.

 Making the right plywood choice can ensure the durability of your roof, safeguard your home from extreme weather conditions, and provide long-term value for your investment.

This guide will delve into the process of What Plywood Is Used for Roofing, helping you make an informed decision for your next construction task.

Overview of Plywood and its Uses in Roofing

Plywood, made from multiple layers of wood veneer bonded together under heat and pressure, offers significant advantages for roofing applications. Its layered construction gives it excellent strength and stability, making it resistant to warping, cracking, and twisting. 

This makes plywood an ideal roofing material, capable of withstanding the heavy load of roofing materials and resisting the forces subjected to it by wind and extreme weather conditions.

In roofing, plywood is primarily used as sheathing, a structural layer that provides a base for the installation of roofing materials like shingles, metal, or tiles.

 The sheathing supports the roofing materials, adding strength and rigidity to the roof structure. However, plywood isn’t just a functional component; it can also contribute to the aesthetic appeal of the roof.

 With a variety of grades available, builders can choose higher-grade plywood for areas like eaves and overhangs, where the underside of the sheathing may be visible.

The kind of plywood used impacts the roof’s longevity and performance — a high-quality plywood like CDX, known for its excellent resistance to moisture and decay, is often preferred. 

However, other factors like the local climate, the slope of the roof, and the chosen roofing material also influence the best choice of plywood for roofing.

 Hence, understanding the qualities of different types of plywood can help you select the best one for your roofing needs.

Benefits of Using Plywood for Roofing

Plywood offers several benefits that make it an ideal choice for roofing. First, its layered structure provides excellent strength and stability, making it resistant to warping, twisting, and cracking.

 This enables it to withstand the heavy load of roofing materials and endure the forces of extreme weather conditions.

Second, plywood is known for its ease of installation. It is lightweight and comes in large sheets, allowing for quick and efficient roofing projects. Its large size also means fewer seams, reducing the risk of leaks.

Third, plywood’s versatility allows it to support a wide range of roofing materials, from asphalt shingles to metal roofing.

Fourth, plywood also offers a cost-effective roofing solution. While it may not be the cheapest option upfront, its durability and longevity can result in lower maintenance and replacement costs in the long run.

Finally, plywood’s resistance to moisture and decay, particularly types like CDX, makes it highly suitable for roofing applications. 

However, it’s crucial to consider factors like the local climate, the slope of the roof, and the chosen roofing material to make the best plywood choice for your roofing needs.

Different Types of Plywood Used for Roofs

CDX Plywood

CDX plywood is the most common type of plywood used for roofing. The letters “CDX” refers to the quality of the faces of the plywood, with ‘C’ and ‘D’ indicating the quality of the front and back faces respectively, and ‘X’ signifying that it is made with exterior grade adhesive, making it suitable for outdoor use.

CDX plywood offers a great balance between cost and performance, providing adequate strength and moisture resistance for most roofing applications.

CDX Plywood is typically constructed from multiple layers of softwood, such as pine, spruce, or fir. Its thickness generally ranges from 1/4 inch to 1 inch, but for roofing applications, the industry standard is usually 1/2 inch.

 This thickness provides an optimal balance of strength and weight, ensuring the roof structure can sustain the load of the roofing materials and any additional stresses, such as snow or wind.

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

While not technically plywood, OSB is another popular choice for roofing due to its strength and affordability. Made from compressed layers of wood strands oriented in different directions, OSB offers excellent load-bearing capacity and dimensional stability. 

However, it is more prone to swelling and damage from prolonged exposure to moisture compared to CDX plywood.

OSB, or Oriented Strand Board, has become a popular alternative to plywood in the roofing sector due to its robust construction and cost-effectiveness. 

Composed of wood strands that are compressed and bound together using adhesive, the manufacturing process of OSB ensures a strong, uniform material that boasts high load-bearing capacity and dimensional stability.

One of the advantages of OSB is its consistency across its surface. Unlike plywood, which can have knots or other inconsistencies, OSB is machine manufactured to ensure uniformity. This makes it predictable to work with, a characteristic highly valued by roofers.

Pressure-Treated Plywood

For roofs in humid climates or areas susceptible to termites, pressure-treated plywood is an excellent choice. 

This type of plywood undergoes a special treatment to resist decay, fungi, and insect infestation, making it highly durable and ideal for locations with challenging environmental conditions.

Marine-Grade Plywood

Marine-grade plywood is the highest quality of plywood and is often used in applications where high moisture resistance is required.

 While its use in roofing is not as common due to its higher cost, it can be an ideal choice for roofs in coastal areas or regions with heavy rainfall, where the risk of moisture damage is high.

Each type of plywood has its unique advantages and is suitable for different roofing requirements. Therefore, it’s essential to consider factors such as the local climate, budget, and the specific needs of your project when choosing the right plywood for your roof.

How to Choose the Right Plywood for Your Roof

When choosing the right plywood for your roof, it is crucial to consider several factors.

Consider Local Climate: The local weather conditions play a significant role in the type of plywood you should select. CDX Plywood is a good all-around choice for many climates. 

However, for humid climates or regions prone to heavy rainfall, pressure-treated or marine-grade plywood might be more suitable due to its enhanced moisture resistance.

Assess the slope of your roof: The slope or pitch of your roof can influence the type of plywood you need. Flatter roofs tend to hold water longer, necessitating plywood with higher resistance to moisture, like marine-grade plywood.

Take into account your roofing material: The weight and type of the roofing material can influence your choice of plywood. Heavier roofing materials may require thicker, stronger plywood.

Look at your budget: While all types of plywood offer certain advantages, their costs can vary. For example, while marine-grade plywood offers excellent moisture resistance, it is also more expensive. You’ll need to balance the cost with the benefits.

Consider local building codes: Lastly, your local building codes and regulations may also dictate or influence the type of plywood you should use for your roofing project. Always ensure your chosen material meets these standards.

By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure you pick the plywood that best suits your roofing needs.

Also Read: How Can You Plane Plywood

Tips for Installing and Maintaining a Plywood Roof

Installing and maintaining a plywood roof requires careful planning and proper execution to ensure its longevity and functionality. Here are some tips to assist you:

  1. Proper Installation: The installation process is critical for the performance and durability of a plywood roof. Ensure you use enough nails or staples to secure the plywood sheets and leave enough space between them to accommodate the expansion and contraction that occurs due to changes in temperature and humidity.
  2. Use Suitable Underlayment: A quality underlayment can enhance the plywood roof’s durability by adding an extra layer of protection against moisture and other elements. It also provides a smooth, flat surface for the installation of roofing materials.
  3. Regular Inspections: Inspect your plywood roof regularly, especially after severe weather conditions, to identify any signs of damage or wear. Look for indications like water stains, warping, or fungal growth.
  4. Prompt Repairs: If you notice any damage during your inspections, arrange for repairs promptly. Leaving issues unattended can lead to further damage and more costly repairs down the line.
  5. Proper Ventilation: Ensure your roof has adequate ventilation. Without proper ventilation, moisture can build up, leading to mold, mildew, and decay.
  6. Maintenance of Gutters: Regularly clean and maintain your gutters to prevent water buildup on your roof. Overflowing gutters can lead to water seeping into the plywood, causing damage.

Remember, if you’re unsure about any aspect of installing or maintaining your plywood roof, it’s always best to consult with a professional.

Common Problems with Plywood Roofs and How to Avoid Them

Plywood roofs, despite their numerous benefits, can sometimes encounter certain problems. Here are some common ones and tips on how to avoid them:

Warping and Swelling

Warping and swelling can occur when plywood is exposed to moisture over prolonged periods. This can compromise the integrity of the roof and lead to leaks. To avoid this, ensure proper installation of underlayment and regular maintenance of gutters to prevent water buildup.


Delamination happens when the layers of plywood start separating, usually due to excessive moisture or poor-quality adhesive. Avoid this issue by choosing high-quality plywood and ensuring the roof has adequate ventilation to prevent moisture buildup.

Fungal Decay

This problem occurs when plywood is exposed to moisture and warmth, creating an ideal environment for fungi. To prevent this, use pressure-treated or marine-grade plywood in areas prone to high humidity and rainfall.

Nail Pops

Nail pops are when nails are used to secure the plywood lift, creating bumps or blisters on the roof’s surface. This can occur due to temperature fluctuations causing the plywood to contract and expand. 

To avoid this, make sure to use enough nails or staples during installation and leave enough space between sheets to accommodate thermal expansion and contraction.

Also Read: How to Cut a Square Hole in Plywood

Poor Installation

Poorly installed plywood can lead to many problems, such as leaks, inadequate load-bearing capacity, and reduced lifespan. Always ensure a professional who is familiar with local building codes and regulations installs your plywood roof.

By proactively addressing these potential problems, you can significantly enhance the longevity and performance of your plywood roof.

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