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.
According to Box™ interior designer Sam Elliot, 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, says Sam, 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.
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.
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.
Shadowclad: Many of our designs use this product for exterior cladding either in grooved or, to a lesser extent, plain form. It has a rough band-sawn texture.