Over the years, many people have wondered which type of plywood they should use for their projects, and it’s not surprising why! Plywood comes in two main varieties—softwood and hardwood—and each offers unique properties. So which one should you choose? 

Read on to learn the differences between hardwood and softwood plywood and when each type is most suitable.

What Are These Woods Anyway?

Wood is separated into two categories by botanists: hardwoods and softwoods. The plywood made from these woods also falls into two categories: hardwood plywood and softwood plywood. 

Hardwoods are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall. Some popular hardwoods used in plywood include maple, oak, and birch. 

Softwoods are evergreens, meaning they keep their needles year-round. Common softwoods used for plywood include spruce, pine, and fir. 

You may be wondering about the differences between hardwood and softwood plywood prices. Though it depends on where you live, hardwood plywood prices will be higher than softwood plywood prices because of their higher demand.

How are they different?

Plywood is made from either hardwoods or softwoods, but what’s the difference? Hardwoods are denser than softwoods, meaning they’re more durable and typically more expensive. Plywood made from hardwoods is often used for high-end cabinetry, furniture, and flooring. 

Softwoods, on the other hand, are lighter in weight and color. This type of plywood is usually used for construction projects and crates. Remember that plywood prices can vary depending on the type of wood used. For example, hardwood plywood costs about $55 per sheet, while softwood plywood costs about $40 per sheet. 

You might want to purchase the softer material if you don’t need the product to last as long or if it won’t be exposed to any moisture (think a crate).

Pros & Cons

Regarding plywood, there are two main types: hardwood and softwood. Both have their own unique set of pros and cons that make them better suited for different projects. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between hardwood and softwood plywood and some examples of when you might want to use one over the other. 

Hardwood plywood is much stronger than softwood plywood, so if you’re looking for something to hold up in extreme weather conditions or heavy loads, this is your best bet. 
Hardwoods also offer more variety in color, grain, and pattern than most species of softwoods--so these boards will be perfect if you’re looking for an organic look or feel to your project! 
That said, hardwoods may not be appropriate for exterior projects (as they don’t handle water well), but they can easily be used indoors with good results. 
In terms of cost, hardwoods are about twice as expensive as softwoods. You should also note that hardwood plywood requires special tools and care to maintain its quality during construction.
The good news is that these materials are often sold unfinished and ready for finishing with any varnish or paint. 
If you’re going for an authentic rustic look, remember that wood-burning techniques won’t work because the wood isn’t porous enough. 
Softwood plywood is typically cheaper than hardwood but thinner, which means it’s less sturdy.

The bottom line

The main difference between hardwood and softwood is the wood used to make the plywood. Hardwoods are made from deciduous trees, while softwoods are made from evergreen trees. 

This can affect plywood prices because hardwoods are typically more expensive than softwoods. However, when comparing plywood prices, a few other factors should be considered, such as thickness and board feet. 

But if you’re looking for the best value for your money, you’ll want to consider each piece’s area. 

Generally, softwood plywood will cover more area per sheet than hardwood plywood. 


If you’re trying to decide between hardwood and softwood plywood for your next project, it’s essential to understand the key differences between the two. 

Hardwood plywood is made from denser, richer woods like oak and maple, while softwood plywood is made from lighter woods like pine and fir. 

Hardwood plywood is more durable and will stand up better to wear and tear, while softwood plywood is more affordable.