Using Plywood in the Bathroom

Introducing timber into the bathroom can be a risky thing. The environment tends to be rich in moisture, for obvious reasons – and this, over time, can lead to problems with warping and rot in certain timber products.

There is, however, an exception here, and that’s plywood. Since its introduction in the late 19th century, plywood has become incredibly sophisticated – and it’s ubiquitous in modern construction.

What is plywood?

Plywood consists of several sheets of timber glued to one another to form a single, rock-solid, warp-resistant board. Viewed from the front, it’s indistinguishable from solid timber – and it can be painted and finished in much the same way.

Plywood comes in many varieties and thicknesses, but the most common is ¾” (or 18mm) thick. When you’re shopping, it’s a good idea to seek out moisture-resistant timber. This is especially worthwhile if you’re installing elements directly over, or near to, the bathtub.

To work with plywood, you’ll need the right saw. A circular saw can be used to break a sheet down, while a table saw is ideal for making small adjustments. Or, if you haven’t invested in these tools, you can instead get the shop to break the timber down for you.

Once you’ve gotten a few projects under your belt, you’ll find that working with this material is actually extremely easy. So, where and how might plywood fit into your bathroom? There are a few options to consider. 

The vanity cabinet

A vanity cabinet is an excellent and practical way to add storage space to your bathroom. It’s also a straightforward project for even an amateur woodworker. You can append a sheet of mirrored glass to the front of a plywood door. You don’t need to worry about intricate joinery in this case; a good vanity mirror tends to come in the form of a simple wall-mounted wooden box.


Decorative panelling is something that plywood is well-suited for. You can make the plywood the showpiece element, or you can tile over it. Since plywood will keep its shape over time, you won’t need to worry about the tiles working their way free of the surface to which they’re attached. 

The bathtub surround

Plywood makes for an excellent bathtub surround. You can fix it into position with wood glue or pocket hole screws, and even design in a concealed door so that the underside of the tub can be easily accessed whenever you need to make changes to the pipework.

Finish the plywood with an appropriate coat of water-resistant paint. The glossier the better. You’re going to be dripping moisture onto the surround as you get out of the bath, and it’s fairly critical that the material is protected. 


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