Plywood Floors Pros and Cons

By Joe McGuinty
Last update:
Plywood Flooring Pros and Cons

Plywood is a piece of wood made up of thin layers of veneer sealed together at various thicknesses. While most people know plywood to be used for cabinets and other vertical surfaces, it can be used as a great flooring material as well.

Plywood Floors

Plywood has the advantages of being affordable, easy to work with, and available in various designs. However, it’s less durable than most other flooring materials such as hardwood and may thus not be fit for flooring all rooms in a home.

If you’re considering getting plywood for your floor, here are the pros and cons you should concierge before making the decision.

Plywood Floors pros and Cons
Plywood Floors pros and Cons

Plywood Floors: the Pros

Among the pros of having a plywood floor include the following aspects:

1. It’s Affordable

When it comes to the flooring material, only laminate flooring beats plywood in terms of the price. Otherwise, all other materials such as hardwood, tiles, bamboo and the rest are costlier to buy than plywood.

Where plywood further beats all the other materials is that it costs much less to install and finish off than the rest. For example, it doesn’t need an installation kit like the others and uses very little adhesive compared to its alternatives.

You can also install the plywood floor by yourself thus saving the costs of hiring an expert to do it for you.

2. Highly Flexible

Plywood flooring is by far the most flexible when compared to the alternatives. That includes bamboo, tiles, laminate floors and many others.

The flexibility comes in the following ways:

  • It’s easy to repair: if you notice a piece of plywood that’s too much under the weather, you can easily pluck it out and replace it with another one.
  • You can paint and repaint it as many times as you want.
  • You can even stain it to a look of your choice.
  • You can use stencils with the floor while keeping its quality and improving its look.
  • You can change the shape of the pieces from planks to squares with ease.
  • You can even add another plywood floor on top of the original one without losing the quality.

There are many ways you can change the look and feel of the plywood without issues.

3. Easy to Install

With plywood, there’s no rocket science to the installation process. You simply need to cut the plywood into prices, sand them, position them on the floor, nail or glue them down, then finish them off as you please. For all types of floors, this is the easiest.

Better yet, you can order the plywood from a vendor and request it to be cut into the sizes you prefer. That takes off a large part of the installation time and costs.

4. Can Fit Different Environmental Conditions

Plywood flooring can be used for both hot and cold environmental conditions given that it undergoes little expansion and contraction. It doesn’t also splinter easily due to the changes in the environment.

Better yet, it’s more resistant to water as compared to its alternatives such as hardwood and bamboo. This is because it doesn’t soak up water that easily as the layers of wood are tightly packed together leaving no space for water.

However, you shouldn’t let the water rest on it too much since it’s still wood.

These advantages make plywood an easy option for most people who want an affordable and flexible floor.

Plywood Floors: the Cons

The downsides with having a plywood floor include the following:

1. It’s Not Very Durable

On its own, plywood is a weak material that can barely stand on its own. It becomes stronger when on the floor but it still can’t match the durability of hardwood and bamboo for example.

Its soft nature makes it highly vulnerable to scratches and other forms of damage. If you drop something sharp into the floor, it’ll most likely leave an ugly dent in it. Even your cat can leave scratches on this floor when trying out its claws.

Unlike other materials, there’s no way to better the durability of plywood against most common damage issues. As such, you need to install it in a room where there isn’t too much activity such as your bedroom for example.

2. May Pose Issues when Selling the House

In some cases, plywood may not be recognized as a flooring material given its weaknesses. As such, when selling off your house, it may pose a challenge and force you to replace it with a conventional flooring material like laminate or hardwood.

3. The Knots May Break Off

Any piece of natural wood is made up of knots that are among the weakest points for that piece of wood. With plywood, the problem is even bigger given it’s thinness.

When cutting the plywood to pieces, make sure that you cut as far away from the notes as possible. This is because the knots easily come off each time they’re exposed to any force.

Even when left on the floor, the knots at times just peel off by themselves without any major force being applied. You thus need to be careful with where you place the knots on the floor and how to cut the plywood such that you don’t get too close to them.

How to Choose

If you’re thinking of finishing off your floor and are on a budget, plywood is one of the best options on the market at the moment. You’ll save costs right from purchasing the materials to installing and maintaining it.

Learning the pros and cons of plywood floors reveals that you will be installing a floor that, while cheap to install and maintain, is highly vulnerable to damage. Chances are high that you’ve come into contact with plywood on furniture or other items. If you’re ready to work with its weakness, you can install this type of floor.

A word of advice is that you should go for plywood made of hardwood such as walnut and oak as they are more durable.

Photo of author


Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

Leave a Comment