A ply with care


Radiata Walls with Poplar Ceiling.

At Box™, we love to ply our homes with ply. That’s because ply is versatile and brings a warmth and textural interest to interiors while simultaneously having a nostalgic appeal. We use ply for wall linings, vanities and kitchen cabinetry, and built-in furnishings such as room dividers, shelving units or even beds. But not all ply is created equal, so we source ours from a trusted supplier with an eye for quality. Inferior-quality ply can chip along the edges. When choosing the right ply for the job, homeowners need to consider which grade (A-D) is fit for purpose, the type of timber you prefer and the colouring.


Gaboon ply with Black melamine cupboards and a Hoop Pine ceiling.

According to Box™, there’s a common misconception that ply is a cheap building material. In kitchens and bathrooms, it certainly it is less expensive than using solid timber but three times as costly as, say, Melamine. Pricewise it is comparable to using a veneer, however it is possible to rout out handles on ply cabinetry so homeowners can save on hardware costs. One trick for getting the ply look in a kitchen, but save on cost, is to finish high-level cupboards in ply or incorporate it on the back island. Marine ply is a premium-quality ply with a sanded surface face on both sides, often used in the boat building industry and glued with waterproof adhesives – suitable for bathrooms and kitchens.


Radiata Wall Linings.

Types we use at Box™ include: Radiata pine: NZ-grown so cheap and easy to source. Has that ‘bach’ aesthetic with distinctive ‘whorly’ grain and yellowish colour. Often used as a wall lining (B grade). The C or D grade version of this product can be used to line garages.


All Gaboon ply.

Gaboon: From the hardwood tree Okoume. Has a brown/pink colouring and a lovely fine ‘wavy’ grain. We favour the Marine ply version for use in vanities.

Meranti: Similar in tone to gaboon ply, Box™ uses very little of this as, in our opinion, gaboon has a much finer grain with fewer inconsistencies (see above).

Poplar or Birch: Poplar is almost white but soft so only used as a ceiling lining as on walls it would dent straight away. Birch comes in Marine grade so is more versatile. Its tone is light yellow that sits somewhere between the whitish poplar and yellow radiata.

Hoop pine: An Australian timber – mainly from Queensland – this is by far the most expensive ply and suitable for high-end applications such as kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, as well as ceiling linings. It has a whitish, light, bright, consistent colour.


  1. Helena on March 2, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Can I ask if you have use Ply as a floor covering for a residential house and what your experience or thoughts are on it used as such?

  2. Dan on March 2, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Hi Helena, we usually use ‘Strandfloor’ instead of play – it is a bit more durable and can be sanded back in the future. However, we don’t have anything against it as a floor product providing it is the appropriate thickness and treatment.

  3. Phil Blakely on December 3, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Dan,
    When you use ply internally as a ceiling lining do you finish it with anything? Clear sealer etc? If so what products would you recommend? Same question for plywood joinery in a bathroom eg vanity doors/cabinet.

  4. martha on June 9, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Hi, thanks for interesting read. What do you think of the hoop pine that is grown in australia and then made into ply in China? Much cheaper product, but is it prone to chipping at the edges? thanks