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How to Prepare Your Marine Plywood for Outdoor and Exterior Use

The very name of Marine Plywood immediately gets you thinking about how perfect the product will be for use in water our outdoors in general, and the promise of it being an exterior plywood plays up that idea too. However, what many people don’t realise at first is that Marine Plywood shouldn’t just be bought off the shelf and then immediately submerged in the ocean! In reality, that’s actually a great way to see your plywood take damage and deteriorate. Despite being labelled both “Marine” and “Exterior” you’re still going to need to do a little bit of work before it ‘s perfectly equipped to take on Mother Nature. This week on the Plyco Blog we’re going to be taking you through all the necessary steps you need to take to ensure your Marine Ply will last.

Step 1 – Sanding Your Marine Plywood

The very first thing you’re going to want to do to your Marine Plywood if you’re planning on using it in water or outside is to sand it. Much like any other form of plywood, if you want to stain, paint, or (in this case) seal it, it’s crucial that you sand it down first. Make sure to get both sides of the board and don’t forget about the edges! We recommend using 80-grit sandpaper for this job while having a tack cloth handy will make cleaning up the dust and debris caused by sanding so much easier. Once you’ve cleaned up your sandy mess you’re clear to move into step 2 of the process.

Marine Plywood Brochure Download

Step 2 – Cover Your Marine Plywood with A Coat

Generally, when sealing or even painting plywood you’ll only be applying your coats to a single side. This makes sense as most times a single side will be the one that is exposed and therefore it’s unnecessary and often a bit of a waste to cover the whole thing. However, because we want to ensure that we won’t have any problems dealing with water and other weather elements we want to seal the entire sheet so we don’t have any deterioration problems down the line. For doing this you’re going to want to use a foam brush with some clear, penetrating epoxy. Make sure you saturate the brush and then start spreading the epoxy on the top and side edges, as well as one of the faces – don’t do the bottom edge, otherwise, you won’t be able to allow it to stand and dry! Once it’s all dry you’re free to move onto covering the bottom edge and the other side of your Marine Plywood.

You might be wondering “why use a clear, penetrating epoxy sealer?” Well, the reason is that this sealant is transparent and drives itself deep int your sheet of ply rather than sitting on the surface. You’ll also find that with this sealer you will require less maintenance, as other sealers require more coats and generally need to be reapplied every few years to continue working at the same level of protection.

Step 3 – The More the Merrier

The jobs not done after just one coat though! If you really want a perfectly protected piece of Marine Ply you’re going to need to apply some more coats. The final number of coats you apply is up to you, but a good general rule for those that are inexperienced is that you should apply as many layers of sealer as there are layers of ply. In between each coating session you should lightly sand the surfaces. This is performed in order to rough up the ply a little, which makes getting your next coat to apply flawlessly so much easier.

After you’ve applied as many coats as necessary you’re done! Your Marine Plywood is now sealed, protected, and ready to face the harshest conditions you can throw at it!

If this tutorial has got you thinking about Marine Plywood, why not jump over to our online store? You can check out our Marine Ply, Exterior Plywood and everything else we have in stock! You can order online from the comfort of your own home and get it delivered straight to your door! How easy is that? Not to mention, you’re always welcome to pay us a visit at our Fairfield showroom where you can see all of our fabulous products.

Brandon Marlow
Brandon Marlow
Brandon is the Woodworking Wordsmith and Social Media Sage at Plyco HQ. Crafting copy for customer tutorials, inspiration and advice, Brandon builds and maintains Plyco's plywood knowledge base.

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