Not all cabinetry projects are born equal. For some of them, we’ll use whatever type of plywood we have available. More often than not, we are guided by the price. In some cases, appearance is important too. In that instance, you’ll be looking into a premium type of plywood, which is strong, durable, and good-looking, ideally. Amongst many available choices, there are the three types mentioned in the title: Appleply, Europly, and baltic birch. But what’s the difference between them? That’s what we are going to discuss in this article.
Here is the quick answer: ApplePly, Europly, and Baltic birch are all high-quality “hardwood” plywoods. The differences are minimal. Appleply uses alder and birch as core materials instead of just birch like the other twos, but the resulting strength is similar. The other big difference is the availability of different surface veneers for ApplePly and Europly, while baltic birch has theoretically none (even if you can get it faced later).
Let’s dive into the matter deeper in the following paragraphs.
ApplePly vs Europly vs Baltic Birch – Differences Explained
To begin with, let’s talk a bit about each type of plywood. Then, we’ll sum up similarities and differences in the following paragraph.
ApplePly is a type of premium plywood invented and manufactured by States Industries. It’s made from thin layers of birch and alder, which can be faced with 10 different types of veneers, according to the customer’s needs: cherry, teak, walnut, maple are the most popular between hardwood veneers; cedar, pine, fir, redwood are common choices amongst softwoods.
Panel thicknesses from 1/4 to 1-1/2 inches are available; dimensions range between 24″ and 96″ in length and between 12″ to 48″ in width.
States industries call their product “hardwood plywood panels“; that is a justifiable name due to the strength of their plywood. The core is made of alder and birch panels. The final edge look is quite pleasant: that’s why this type of plywood has been gaining traction amongst hobbyists. Edges can be highlighted as a strong point of the build.
Other than that, Appleply plywood is commonly used on architectural interiors, furniture making, design projects.
Purebond Europly is another popular premium “hardwood” plywood. It’s produced by Columbia Forest Products. Its core is exclusively made with birchwood thin panels, which are a warranty of quality and void absence. Same as Appleply, Europly is distinguished by the beautiful edges that can be left exposed. A variety of surface veneers are available: cherry, maple, and walnut are the most popular.
Another good point in favor of this product is the technology used for production, which is formaldehyde-free. This is rare to find and is to be appreciated. Same thing with ApplePly.
Talking about dimensions, panel thicknesses go from 1/4″ to 1 inch. Common panel sizes are 2×2, 2×4, 2×8, and 4×8 ft. Check your local store to see what’s available.
As we mentioned before, the strength and beautiful look of this product make it ideal for furniture and cabinet making. You get to build projects out of plywood without having to compromise their appearance.
Where to get Europly? You can find this premium plywood at your local Home Depot easily. Alternatively, you can get it online.
Finally, a couple of words about baltic birch. Its name is due to its area of origin, located in Europe. Sometimes it’s also called Russian birch, due to its proximity to that country.
Baltic birch can be considered a “hardwood” plywood too. Its core is made of birch veneer, laminated with tough glue. The result is a product with a very strong core, basically void-free. That’s why baltic birch is getting very popular amongst American woodworkers too. The edges can be left exposed here too if you like their look.
What about dimensions? The thickness and sizes available might vary depending on the store you go to. Unlike ApplePly and Europly, there’s not a single producer. Common thicknesses range from 1/4 to 1-1/2 inches. The most common panel size is 4×8 ft. It’s not unusual to see 5×5 ft if the product is imported from Europe.
What is the Difference between ApplePly, Europly, and Baltic Birch Then?
They are all premium types of plywood, which resemble hardwood in many aspects more than plywood:
- They are quite good looking and ideal for furniture;
- You can get clean joints without having to worry about delamination;
- They are very strong and of high quality. Projects built with these plywoods will likely last you longer than if you used common plywood.
So what are the differences between them at the end? They are very similar products, with a few small differences:
- They have different core compositions (alder and birch for Appleply, birch only for Europly and baltic birch);
- Europly and ApplePly are more environmentally friendly, due to their formaldehyde-free production technology. This might vary with baltic birch depending on where you buy it from;
- Baltic birch comes with a birch surface veneer; unlike Appleply and Europly, you’d have to get it faced with different veneers at a later time, if you need that.
- Availability. Depending on where you are located, it might be difficult to get some Appleply or Europly plywood (unless you shop online), while it’s quite easy to find baltic birch in any store.
FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions]
How hard is baltic birch?
If we consider the Janka hardness test, we are looking at a result of 1260 lbf for baltic birch. If we consider baltic birch plywood, we can assume that we’ll get a similar result, due to its core material being birch veneers. How hard is that? For comparison, red oak and heart pine have similar hardness, always according to the Janka scale.
In the end, baltic birch is way stronger than your common plywood, due to the material that composes it and the absence of voids.
Where can you buy ApplePly?
You have multiple options here. Check statesind.com for a local retailer, or buy it online at buyappleply.com, which is the online retail of States Industries. Here you can fully customize your product, selecting the desired surface veneer, dimensions, and thickness. If you’d like to see it in person before buying, you could also take a try at your local Home Depot/Lowes. Chances are they have some there too.
How much does ApplePly weigh?
ApplePly has a density of around 0.20 ounces per square inch. For example, this translates to about 60 pounds for a 4×8 ft, 1/2″ thick sheet panel.
For comparison, a similar sheet of baltic birch weighs around 50 pounds, while softwood plywood stops at around 40 lbs. Plywood weight mainly depends on the material that composes it. Hardwood is denser, thus resulting in a higher weight. The adhesive used also influences plywood weight. Different glue (and glue amounts) are used with different types of plywood.
In this quick article, we settled the ApplePly vs Europly vs baltic birch challenge. We can conclude that there are only small differences between the three materials, mainly regarding their look.
ApplePly and Europly are basically the same as baltic birch, but with a different surface veneer. The edge look might be a bit different due to the material used for their core. Strength-wise, they are all three solid choices.
At this point, the final choice should be dictated by materials’ availability and price. Baltic birch should be easier to find, while you might have trouble finding the other twos, depending on where you live.
One final suggestion before I leave you. Make sure you get the real deal when buying ApplePly or Europly. It’s common for employees to use those names freely to designate other materials that only resemble the actual product. Make sure to double-check what you are buying. A good idea might be checking the price online beforehand to acknowledge what should be expected.