Why Is Plywood Used For Shipping Crates?

For several reasons, plywood is the material of choice for shipping crates due to its adaptability and widespread use. Because of its high strength, long lifespan, and low price, it is an excellent option for transport packaging. This article will discuss the many benefits of using plywood for shipping crates, including improved product security, reduced packaging time, and a more eco-friendly shipping method.

It is essential, whether you are a logistics expert or just interested in shipping in general, to be familiar with the use of plywood in crate construction.

brown wooden crates

Why Is Plywood Used For Shipping Crates?

Plywood is frequently used for shipping boxes because of several of the qualities that make it ideal for this application:

  • Strength and Durability: Plywood is engineered to be strong and durable. It consists of multiple layers (plies) of wood veneers that are glued together with the grain directions of adjacent layers perpendicular to each other. This cross-grain construction provides exceptional strength and resistance to warping, bending, and cracking, crucial for protecting goods during shipping.
  • Shock Absorption: Plywood’s natural shock-absorbing qualities help cushion the impact and vibrations that shipping crates can experience during transit. This helps prevent damage to the items inside the crate.
  • Weight Efficiency: Plywood is relatively lightweight compared to solid wood of similar strength. This weight efficiency is important for keeping shipping costs down, as lighter crates reduce the overall weight of shipments.
  • Customisation: Plywood is easy to cut, shape, and assemble, allowing for customization of crate sizes and designs to fit specific products. This versatility makes plywood crates suitable for various shapes and sizes of goods.
  • Moisture Resistance: Many plywood types are treated or manufactured with adhesives that provide moisture resistance. This is essential for protecting goods from moisture, humidity, or rain during shipping, particularly for long-distance or overseas transportation.
  • Sustainability: Sustainable forestry practices and the use of fast-growing tree species for plywood production contribute to its eco-friendly appeal. Plywood can be sourced from responsibly managed forests and is often recyclable and reusable, making it an environmentally conscious choice.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Plywood is generally more cost-effective than other materials like solid wood or metal when considering its strength-to-weight ratio and durability. This cost-efficiency can lower the overall expenses associated with packaging and shipping.
  • Compliance with International Regulations: Plywood often meets international shipping regulations and standards, making it a reliable choice for businesses involved in international trade. This includes compliance with ISPM 15 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15) for heat-treated and certified plywood crates used in international shipping.
  • Ease of Handling: Plywood crates are relatively easy to handle, whether forklifts or cranes are used. This simplifies the loading and unloading process at warehouses and shipping terminals.

Plywood is often used because of its many advantages for crate construction, including its strength, durability, lightweight, adaptability, resistance to moisture, sustainability, affordability, regulatory compliance, and simplicity of handling. Because of these features, cargo is safeguarded throughout transport and gets where it has to go without any delays.

What Are Shipping Crates Made Of?

Shipping crates can be made from various materials, depending on the specific needs and requirements of the cargo being transported, as well as industry standards and regulations. Common materials used for shipping crates include:

  • Wood: Wooden crates are perhaps the most traditional and widely used type of shipping crate. They are typically constructed from plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), or solid wood. Wooden crates offer strength, durability, and shock absorption, making them suitable for a wide range of goods.
  • Metal: Metal crates, often made from materials like steel or aluminium, are known for their durability and security. They are commonly used for heavy or valuable items that require a high level of protection and are also resistant to environmental factors.
  • Plastic: Plastic crates are lightweight, resistant to moisture, and often reusable. They are suitable for items that need protection from water or humidity, and they are commonly used in industries like agriculture, food, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Composite Materials: Some shipping crates are constructed from composite materials, which combine the advantages of multiple materials. For example, a crate might have a wooden frame with plastic or metal panels for added durability or moisture resistance.
  • Cardboard or Fiberboard: Cardboard or fiberboard crates are lightweight and cost-effective, but they are generally less durable than other materials. They are suitable for lightweight or non-fragile items and are often used for smaller shipments.
  • Plywood: Plywood, which is a type of wood, is also used in shipping crate construction due to its strength and versatility. It is often used as a component of wooden crates.
  • Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP): FRP crates are lightweight and resistant to corrosion, making them suitable for items that need protection from harsh environmental conditions.
  • Foam and Foam Laminates: These materials are used for cushioning and protecting delicate or sensitive items within crates. While not the primary material for the crate itself, they play a crucial role in the packaging process.

Cargo specifications including weight, fragility, shipping environment, cost, and regulatory compliance all have a role in determining the sort of material used to construct a shipping crate. The strength, durability, and protection afforded by the crate’s construction materials are often chosen with the transported items in mind.

What Kind Of Plywood Is Used For Shipping Crates?

While the exact plywood used for shipping boxes may vary based on the standards and specifications in place, there are some universal qualities that all good shipping crates share:

  • Structural Plywood: Plywood used for shipping crates is usually of a structural grade, such as CDX (Construction-grade plywood) or ACX (Exterior-grade plywood). These grades are designed for structural strength and durability, making them suitable for withstanding the rigours of shipping and handling.
  • Moisture-Resistant or Marine Plywood: Depending on the nature of the cargo and the expected shipping conditions, moisture-resistant or marine plywood may be used. These types of plywood are designed to resist moisture and are often treated with preservatives or special adhesives to prevent water damage. This is especially important for goods transported in humid or wet environments or for overseas shipping.
  • Heat-Treated Plywood: For international shipping, particularly when exporting to countries with stringent phytosanitary regulations, heat-treated plywood is commonly used. Heat treatment is a process that eliminates pests and pathogens, and it is denoted by the ISPM 15 certification. This type of plywood is often stamped with an ISPM 15 mark to indicate compliance with international standards.
  • Custom Thickness: The thickness of plywood used for shipping crates can vary depending on the weight and fragility of the cargo. Common thicknesses range from 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch or more. Thicker plywood provides greater strength and protection for heavier or more delicate items.
  • Smooth Surface: The surface of the plywood may be sanded to create a smooth finish, which can be important for preventing damage to the contents and facilitating easy loading and unloading of goods.
  • Edge Sealing: In some cases, the edges of the plywood sheets may be sealed or reinforced with additional material like metal strapping or plastic to provide extra strength and durability to the crate.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Plywood used for shipping crates should meet relevant industry and international regulations, including those related to wood treatment, dimensions, and markings. Compliance ensures that the crates can be used for international shipping without delays or issues at customs.

You should consider the specifics of your goods, your preferred mode of transit, your final destination, and any rules that may apply when deciding on the plywood for your shipping crates. To guarantee the safety and security of their cargo during shipment, shipping companies often take these considerations into account when deciding the type of plywood to use.


Plywood is a typical choice for packaging crates because it is sturdy, adaptable, and inexpensive. Its fitness for this task is determined by several factors, including but not limited to its strength, durability, moisture resistance, adaptability, and conformity to international laws.

Plywood is an indispensable material for logistics and international trade due to its ability to safeguard items in transit, endure the stresses of shipping and handling, and contribute to efficient and environmentally friendly shipping practices. The shipping and transportation industries continue to rely heavily on plywood for a variety of reasons, including protecting fragile goods in transit and supporting international supply networks.