What Is MDO Plywood?

Whether you are installing fascia, exterior panels, siding, or cabinets, your project is going to need a lot of plywood. And, no doubt in your search for materials, you discovered that there are different types of it. Experts have told you that the best one to use is something called “MDO Plywood” (whatever that means) which only confuses you, leaving you in a guessing game of what MDO is and what it stands for (no, it’s not Multi-Dimensional Object).

In this article we will explain what MDO Plywood actually is, how it is made, and how it can benefit your project.

What Is MDO Plywood, Anyway?

MDO (Medium-density overlay) plywood is an all-purpose, specialty plywood that can be used for a large variety of projects and applications. It is built for exterior use but can also be used anywhere regular plywood is used. It can often be confused with MDF (medium-density fiberboard), and though the two plywoods are similar, they are not the same. MDO is much more versatile, cuts better, and is generally a higher quality than MDF.

How Is MDO Plywood Made?

Using layers of C grade and B grade wood, the thin wood veneers are layered perpendicular to each other to provide stability. In between each veneer a layer of waterproof resin is applied, and then everything is fused together with heat and pressure. The overlay coatings are made from waterproof resin-impregnated fiber, making MDO 100% waterproof.

How Does it Compare To Other Types of Plywood Like MDF?

mdo plywood being used in the construction of home

One of the great things about MDO plywood is that, while more expensive, it offers more durability than other plywoods, especially for outdoor use. There are other factors that make it a better choice than other types of plywoods like MDF, such as traffic sign board as mdo film faced plywood outdoor usage.

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Durability and Strength

MDO is much stronger than MDF, and better for structures that need to hold something heavy, like floorboards or shelves.

Weather Resistance

Due to the layer of waterproof resin, MDO is much more weather resistant and can better handle friction than other plywoods. If MDF ever gets wet, for example, it absorbs and the wetness and swells, creating a huge risk for mold, termites, and other wood-related issues.

MDO board Uses

MDO is better for outdoor use and any indoor use that risks exposure to moisture (floors, walls, cabinets, etc.). MDF can also be used for a variety of applications, but due to how it absorbs moisture, it is best to only use MDF for internal projects that will not get wet.

MDO plywood Cost and price

Due to its high durability and strength, MDO does cost a great deal more than MDF and other plywoods. However, MDO is generally a higher quality board that will not require you to replace and rebuild, and will last you much longer than MDF.

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Cutting Safety and Aftermath

MDO board is much safer to cut than MDF. It does not produce a lot of dust, which can be a breathing hazard. Also, MDF uses formaldehyde in its construction, which can be hazardous when cut.


The overlay of MDO plywood panle allows for an excellent painting surface that will remain smooth and even.

What are the Applications of MDO Plywood?

MDO film plywood is a very versatile plywood and can be used for a large variety of applications. Here are some of the most common:

Outdoor Signs

MDO treat plywood is often referred to as signboard. Because of its resistance to weather and moisture, and its smooth painting surface, it is perfect for making outdoor signs.

Concrete Forms

Anytime you are laying down concrete for a walkway or patio, you cannot just pour the concrete and hope for the best. You need a form for the concrete to fill before it hardens. Many contractors will create concrete forms out of MDO plywood because they are easier to assemble and take down, and the smooth, even surface allows for easier cleanup after the concrete has set.

Exterior Siding

contractor using mdo plywood for the exterior siding of a house

MDO is an attractive looking plywood, which is one reason why it is great for external siding. It also has insulating properties, which can provide a home with temperature control and cut down on energy bills. Additionally, you can also use it for fascias, chimney enclosures, garage door panels, fences, and more.

Interior Applications

As briefly mentioned before, MDO plywood has some internal applications as well. Cabinet jambs, countertops, wainscoting panels, shelving, bins, molding, floors, walls, and so much more. Because MDO is so durable and safe to use, you can literally use it for anything!

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