Using plywood for privacy fencing projects can provide seclusion from neighbors and a security barrier for your home. The material is easy to work with and can be used to create a variety of fence designs. Exterior-grade plywood is best suited for privacy fencing because of its strength and weatherproof characteristics.
Plywood is a strong, lightweight, rigid building material that doesn't easily split, crack or crumble. It is constructed by gluing numerous thin strips of wood veneer together to produce a board of the appropriate thickness. To improve strength, the grain of each veneer layer is applied at a 90-degree angle to the previous layer. Quality grading for exterior plywood ranges from C-C, which is best for rough construction uses, to the highest quality level of A-A. A-C graded plywood is common for fencing projects.
Plywood is susceptible to the damaging effects of wind, rain, snow, humidity and other environmental elements. Exterior-grade plywood is constructed using a waterproof glue that reduces the possibility of breakdown or splitting, making it well-suited for fencing projects. Some manufacturers also include a pest repellent product to fight against damage from bugs. Applying a waterproof product or paint to all six sides of the plywood (front, back and four edges) will provide additional protection.
Because it is easy to work with, plywood can be used to create a variety of fencing design styles. Whole sheets can be used to create a simple privacy fencing option that blocks all access. A shadowbox fence effect can be achieved when plywood is cut into sections and attached to both sides of the fence rail or posts in an alternating pattern. Plywood can also be combined with other products, such as wood lattice or molding, to produce a custom fencing appearance.
Even with weatherproofing and pest protection, contact with the ground can expose plywood fencing to possible damage. Plywood fencing can provide a great deal of privacy but may also affect wind flow and access to your yard. The adhesives used to construct plywood may contain urea formaldehyde and/or phenol formaldehyde. Both chemicals are carcinogenic in very high concentrations and can be an environmental concern. During high wind or storms, plywood sheets can be ripped from fence posts and become a safety hazard.
Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.