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Cworkshop's How To

How to Fix and Prevent Plywood Delamination

How to Fix and Prevent Plywood Delamination

Popular for its impressive strength and versatility, plywood is an excellent construction material
with limitless practical applications. Unfortunately, however, plywood has the potential to break
down, especially when it is not stored or preserved in the right conditions. This is called plywood
delamination, a process whereby layers of your plywood come apart from one another, causing
the surface of the material to become weak or unstable.

In the guide below, we will take a closer look at plywood delamination, offering some handy tips
to help you protect your product from damage, ensuring you do not encounter any issues with
your plywood further down the line.

What is plywood?

Plywood is made using multiple layers of thin wood veneers (or "plies"), glued together to form
one solid sheet of material. While plywood can be constructed from either hardwood or softwood,
hardwood plywood made from birch is one of the most popular types due to its attractive
appearance and more sustainable nature.

In the manufacturing process, the thin layers of ply are carefully layered on top of one another at
90 degree angles – a process known as cross-graining. Some building specialists consider
plywood a more sustainable and durable alternative to solid wood, as it incorporates numerous
layers of material to strengthen and stabilise the product.

What is plywood delamination?

The thin layers of veneer within a plywood sheet have been known to occasionally separate,
causing the wood to break down or weaken as a result. When this happens, it is known as
plywood delamination.

What causes plywood delamination?

Plywood delamination can occur for a number of reasons, and it is important to be aware of all of
them before using this sheet material in your own DIY projects. Some of the causes of plywood
delamination include:

Water damage: One of the leading causes of plywood delamination is water damage. This is because, in
conditions of excess moisture, your plywood sheets are far more likely to swell and lose their
initial shape, eventually leading the adhesive bonds or glue within the product to break down
entirely. For this reason, it is always recommended that your plywood is stored in a dry, well-
ventilated area to prevent moisture build-up. However, if you plan to apply plywood to a damp or
humid environment (such as a kitchen or bathroom), it is always important to waterproof it first.

Improper storage: Storing plywood in unsuitable conditions plays a huge part in delamination further down the line.
To expand on the point above, plywood should not be kept in wet or damp environments (unless
it is marine plywood), as exposing your materials to unsuitable conditions, like heat, moisture, or
humidity puts your product at a heightened risk of damage.

Poor manufacturing: Plywood delamination can also occur as a result of poor manufacturing, with some retailers
choosing to opt for low-quality materials (like cheap glues and adhesives) rather than better
quality ones, causing them to fail and break down over time. There is also the possibility that
your plywood has been improperly pressed or cured by the manufacturer. Therefore, it is
essential that, whatever construction material you choose to use, you select a credible supplier
fully stocked with high-quality materials.

How can I tell if my plywood is delaminated?

One of the best ways to check for plywood delamination is by looking out for some visible signs,
which can include:

  • Bubbles on the wood's surface
  • Swelling on the edges of the plywood
  • Splits or cracks in the wood itself

If you are still unsure if your plywood is damaged, gently tap the product's surface with a small
hammer or tool. If the wood feels especially soft or hollow, this would indicate that plywood
delamination has occurred.

How do I repair delaminated plywood?

If you have already noticed delamination taking place in your plywood, it is essential that steps
are taken immediately to repair the damage before it gets any worse.

Determine the severity of delamination

The severity of plywood delamination can vary from minor to severe, therefore it is important you
first determine how extreme the problem is. Do this by using a knife to gently cut the plywood
face away from the rest of the material. With the plywood now exposed, you can examine it in
closer detail. If the wood is spongy and soft to the touch, it is likely that your plywood is too
damaged for a repair.

Glue the affected area

Epoxy is a two-part adhesive made of both resin and hardener, mixed together to form a very
strong and durable bond. With an epoxy resin, you will be able to glue your separated plywood
layers back together, strengthening the material for later use.

Make sure to penetrate the epoxy deeply into each of the plywood layers, realigning the product
to ensure that each veneer is in contact with one another. Once the layers are realigned, use
clamps to hold your plywood together, applying enough pressure to keep it together. Lastly,
make sure to allow your glue to fully dry in a cool and well-ventilated area.

How to prevent plywood delamination

When it comes to plywood, the best line of defence is protection. Here are some of our tips for
preventing delamination in the first place:

1. Invest in high quality plywood
2. Store in a cool, dry place
3. Follow the proper installation procedures
4. Carry out regular maintenance


Here at Cworkshop, we are well stocked with a great variety of products, all tailored to meet your
individual construction needs. We stock hardwood birch plywood in multiple grades and
thicknesses (4mm up to 30mm), allowing you to choose the material that works best for your
needs. We also stock some varieties of marine plywood which are moisture-resistant and perfect
for damp or humid environments. Not just that, but we can also cut your boards to size to ensure
you have exactly the right materials for your next project.

Whatever your DIY needs, we've got you covered. For any more information regarding our
services, get in touch with our knowledgeable team today, and we can talk you through some of
the best measures to take in protecting your plywood.