The person not accustomed to building or construction might not know that the term ‘plywood’ can refer to a variety of building materials, and does not even always refer to wood-based building materials. The term plywood could accurately be used to describe a variety of materials including particleboard, medium density fiberboard, chipboard or hardboard. So, what is ACX plywood? ACX plywood is a version of a plywood panel that has a very specific makeup, with one rough face and one sanded face on either side. ACX plywood is used prevalently on home outdoor projects and renovations.
How is Plywood Made?
Veneers, thin sheets of peeled wood grain, are the main component of all types of plywood. The plywood is essentially constructed from various layers of those veneers, with each layer perpendicular to the two layers surrounding it. On the outside of the veneer layers, you will find grain that is lengthwise or vertical. That panel of plywood consistently has an odd number of plies. You can find the even-numbered layers running widthwise throughout the sheet. Glue is on every layer but is sprayed on differently depending on the intended usage and purpose of the plywood.
Interior vs Exterior Plywood
Exterior and interior plywood differ in two significant ways. Exterior plywood is mostly used for finishing on just one side and it is not constructed from finer hardwoods most of the time. This differs from interior plywood that can be constructed using a vast range of veneers. They could be from fine hardwoods or from patched, rough pine.
The second way interior and exterior plywood differ is the glue used in their construction. Interior plywood is built to last longer than the exterior version, and uses glue that has been tested under high humidity. The adhesive found in exterior plywood, in contrast, is waterproof.
Not all plywood is made equal, and there are reasons for that. There are different uses for different types of plywood, so they really do not all need to be rated equally. To that end, different plywood veneers can have a grade that ranges from AA all the way to E. A veneer that is rated AA is considered to be a straight, perfect grain without any visible patches, voids or seams in its surface.
Exterior plywood does not usually get an AA rating. Rather, it is usually rated somewhere from A to C. A veneer with an A grade is a single sheet that does not have any voids. In addition, an A grade designates a plywood that can be stained if needed. Not all plywood is able to be stained so this is an important distinction. The quality of the plywood veneers goes down as the letters go up (E, for example, is lower quality than B).
A veneer graded with a C is kind of the middle of the road. This grade can be constructed using several sheets, but will have visible patches as well as some smaller sized voids. While it might not be the prettiest sheet of plywood you have ever seen, it will get the job done and is sturdy and sound–just not perfect.
How ACX Plywood is Different
What is ACX plywood is exactly? ACX is constructed of a very high grade plywood. It is not made from a species of wood or tree, but rather from veneers, which are layered together with each layer’s grain perpendicular to the surrounding two layers. Each layer is sprayed with glue, which is formulated differently depending on usage.
The name ‘ACX’ refers to the grade of glue and wood used in its construction. The A designates the front face and indicates a very high-quality veneer that also has good grain. This is the part of the veneer that should be shown, or at the very least is the part of the plywood that should be facing outward. The C in the name of this plywood is the back face. This could be rougher and can even have some smaller voids or patches and seams that are visible. This would not be the side that would be facing out. Finally, the X is used to describe the exterior and designates the waterproof adhesive used in the construction of the plywood itself.
Learn More About ACX Plywood
Plywood is not quite as simple and straightforward as you made have once thought. If would like to purchase ACX plywood or have other building-related questions or concerns, reach out to Curtis Lumber & Plywood.