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How Thick Should Plywood Be for Ceilings? (Answered)

Our homes are the places of our utmost comfort – we build, modify and organize it to suit our comfort of living.

Besides comfort, the looks and beauty of our homes also reflect our quality of life and our living standards, therefore it is essential that we pay close attention to settings such as our ceiling.

Plywood is a popular material for use in ceilings and this article discusses which one would be appropriate for your ceiling.

Plywood ceiling thickness

There are different types of plywood that are manufactured at different thicknesses and sizes. But how thick the plywood should be for your ceilings depend on the dimensions of your ceiling. Plywood sheets 95″ long and 47″ wide need to be within the thickness of ¼″ to ½″.

One of the most used wooden panels in construction work is plywood, it is a multipurpose panel which is used in several projects throughout the US.

The popularity of plywood is due to its ability to bind to resin and form composite constructions with plywood or other solid panels. The core of plywood is made of veneer which allows the tolerance of high bending stresses and is resistant to strong forces.

Its strength and durability makes it a fitting choice of material for use in walls or ceiling panels and they also come in various sizes, thicknesses and designs which are commonly used in homes or office spaces.

These decorative plywood panels are used in a variety of internal applications for both walls and ceilings in rooms such as the bedroom, kitchen, living and lounge rooms, hallways and dining room.

Decorative plywood wall and ceiling panels can also be used commercially.

However, for use in ceilings, the thickness of the plywood plays a crucial role and there are several factors that determine the appropriate thickness of a plywood sheet. Few of those factors have been listed below:

Length and Width of the plywood sheet:

The length and width of a plywood sheet determines the overall thickness of sheet because the larger the size of a plywood gets, the heavier it becomes and therefore it would need to support a heavier weight.

Therefore, as the length and width of the plywood sheet increases, the thickness of the plywood sheet needs to be greater as well to support the size.

Nominal and Actual Thickness:

When you are buying plywood, they will come in thicknesses ranging from ⅛ inches to 1¼ inches.

However, you should not work with these calculations alone because there will be loss in this thickness due to sanding of the plywood which could significantly alter and reduce the thickness of the plywood sheet.

Therefore, you need to keep in mind the overall losses in thickness that the plywood might have before buying the piece.

Tolerance of plywood size:

Not all plywood is of the same quality and that difference affects their thickness as well.

Since plywood is made up of multiple layers, if the plywood is made of utility-grade layers then it will have a much higher tolerance compared to lower quality plywood.

High quality plywoods have sanded outer layers and defect free and the preferred plywood of builders.

Is 1/4″ plywood too thin for ceilings?

When using plywood on ceilings, you need to ensure the strength and durability of the sheets used. In case the sheets are larger in size, using thin sheets would be unreliable because they might not be able to withstand the weight.

¼ inch thick plywood may be considered thin for ceilings if you don’t have frequent supporting structures.

You can use a ¼ inch plywood on ceilings if you have 12 inch spacing between attachment points. If your ceiling has a bit of curvature, you should consider ⅛ inch thick plywood since they are much flexible but need more support.

If you have 1×2 strips, you can use them on 12 inch spacing so that the sheet on the ceiling would have sufficient support and without relying on glue.

Can plywood be used for the false ceiling?

Plywood is a common material used for walls, ceilings and other parts of the home due to many of its suitable properties such as its flexibility and conformity, strength and durability as well as its ease of handling.

Since plywood is made up of wood veneers, people assume them to be weaker and brittle. But they are much tougher due to their composition of both hardwood and softwood veneer and they also bond very well with each layer under hot press.

Despite their strength, plywood is quite flexible – making them an ideal choice for use on curved surfaces and the freedom to shape the sheets. You can bend and shape the plywood sheets well enough without risking breakage.

Now, given the incredible strength and flexibility of plywood – they are surprisingly lightweight and can be in false ceilings without running the risk of them collapsing.

Other than the adjustment supports, no other supporting structures are required to keep them as your false ceiling.

What kind of plywood do you use for ceilings?

There are several varieties of plywood available but not all may be the best choice for using on your ceiling. Below are few of the types of plywood which states whether they are or aren’t suitable for use on ceilings:

Veneer Core Plywood:

The most common and basic type of plywood is the veneer core plywood which is made up of several layers of wood bonded together to form a strong core. It is quite durable and suitable for use on ceilings.

MDF Core Plywood:

As the name suggests, MDF core plywood is made of multiple layers of wood glued to a MDF core – making it have a greater stability and strength compared to regular veneer core plywood.

Due to its heightened strength and durability – it is often used for structures such as doors where longer durability is needed. MDF is great for use in ceilings as well.

Lumber Core plywood:

This type of plywood is made up of veneer layers with a lumber core making it very strong for use in shelves, drawers and heavy furniture.

Although you can use lumber core plywood for ceilings, such strong plywoods are often unnecessary for this purpose.

Sona panel Acoustic plywood:

Similar to ordinary veneer core plywood, sonapanel acoustic plywoods are durable, strong and lightweight for use in ceilings. However, one thing that sets apart Sonapanel plywood from the rest is its noise-cancellation properties.

It is specially designed to prevent noise reflection so you can better enjoy your stereo system without annoying echoes.

How do you install a plywood ceiling?

The installation of plywood ceiling is quite simple if you follow the steps below:

Locate the joists and mark:

Find the joists along your drywall ceiling and use a chalk to mark the position of the joists on which you will install the plywood. If the ceiling joists are open, there is no need for this step.

Make measurements from the joists:

Take perpendicular measurements from the joists to make them meet at a center point. Therefore, the adjoining pieces of plywood must meet at a central point on a joist. Using these measurements, cut the plywood accordingly using a table saw.

Attach studs to the joists:

Using a miter saw, cut 2/4 stud to support the ends where plywood meets the wall. You can also screw the studs to the joists using a driver and 3 inch screws.

Place the plywood and sand the edges:

Once the preparations are done, take the sheet of plywood and face the higher grade side facing downwards. Usually the A side is premium and the B side often contains defects.

Place the plywood on the joists and once it is firmly in place, use a 100-grit sandpaper to smoothen the edges and clear out any debris.

Make sure the thickness of the sheet is uniform all across and if any irregularity is noticed – place it towards the wall.

Apply adhesive and staples:

The plywood sheet should be firmly placed in the ceiling without any risks, however, you can apply construction adhesives for better bond. Use the adhesive to the joists and push the plywood firmly against the walls.

After that, you should apply 1½ inch staples with 12 inch of spacing though the plywood for each joist.

Final Thoughts

There are various plywood varieties that come in a range of sizes and thicknesses. However, the length and width of your ceiling will determine how thick the plywood should be for your ceilings. 95″ length by 47″ width plywood sheets must be between ¼” and ½” thick.