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11th Dec 2018

Birch-Faced Ply; Material of the Moment

We don’t want to be dramatic but we are head over heels about birch faced plywood at the minute.

Plywood, in particular, Birch faced ply, has become a very popular material for interiors in recent years for a number of the following reasons. It is an extremely versatile material, you can use it for a whole range of purposes from ceilings and cladding, to cabinetry, furniture and even outside walls. The wood has a soft neutral, almost white at times, colour highlighted by a light natural grain. The warmth of the wood is an ideal contrast with cold materials such as concrete and steel. This works really well in contemporary and industrial style designs that favour a minimal look but still want to mix materials and finishes. Birch ply can be left natural with a clear lacquer or stain giving the surface a smooth rich sheen. Alternatively is can be stained or painted if you choose, in the almost unlimited paint finishes available. 


We have used Birch faced plywood in a number of projects recently across The Barr Group, including a soon to be revealed kitchen, pictured here during the fitting stage where Birch ply door fronts with J handle detail have been fitted to the oak dovetail drawers. ‘The Pod’, as featured on Buster & Punch, where it was extensively used throughout the kitchen ,internal joinery and on the walls and ceilings to spectacular effect.  


We like the feel and the finish so much we actually choose to use Birch faced ply as the primary timber for the internal fit-out of the new BarrJoinery office. (We wish it was always as clutter free as you see here!)

We love the way Slovenia-based architect Sanja Premrn has paired simple plywood panels with pale, chevron-patterned tiling to create the angular geometries of this cafe bar. "I wanted to create a light and bright interior," said the architect. "This is a new building with a lot of natural light, but it is also pretty cold, so I had to warm it up somehow. What better way to do it than with wood."

Plywood even became the subject of a 2017 exhibition at London's V&A museum a history of plywood through over 120 objects. Starting right back in the 1850s and progressing to the present day, exhibits ranged from the enormous body of a plane to intricate door handles. The exhibition wanted to represent a timeline of the material's development and reputation, and how it continues to innovate the design industries. 

Plywood, not specifically the birch variety, is also back at the forefront of the construction industry with the development of cross-laminated timber, an engineered wood with thick laminations that is allowing architects to build taller than ever without the need for steel or concrete.

Here are some more practical benefits for choosing Birch faced ply for your interior joinery…

Birch plywood is known for its strength and stability. Three or more layers of Birch are combined together to make a single sheet of plywood, reinforcing the strength of the original piece of wood. Although this can be edged to disguise the layers, depending on the style of the project, we like to the leave the edges open revealing the layers, for a really unusual and tactile finish. 

Birch plywood is often used in combination with other hardwoods, not only because of its strength but is also typically more affordable than many other hardwood plywood options.

When renovating your family home with young children or even grandchildren, the safety of your chosen materials is a high priority. Birch plywood is a great choice, it has few knots and jagged edges, therefore, it is not known to splinter or crack.

Something that is really important to The Barr Group is the environment impact of timber. Birch trees are an abundant and fast-growing species that cause little devastation or destruction of biodiversity when cut down. Birch plywood is a sustainable, long-term choice that has little impact on our global environment.

Keep a lookout for more projects using Birch faced ply across the group coming soon. 

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