Different Plywood Grades. BWP, BWR, MR, FR- A Comparison! (2023)

We have already discussed various types of plywood in detail and now we are going to know various plywood grades like BWP, BWR, MR, and FR.

I understand it’s not easy for one to pick a quality piece of plywood or differentiate between the plywood, especially for those who are not dealing with plywood regularly. That’s why learning about the plywood grades can help you to find the perfect one you need for your home woodwork.

Again knowing each type of plywood is not enough as it is very difficult to determine which type the plywood belongs to. Every plywood comes under a certain grade according to its quality. So knowing the plywood grades helps you to determine good quality plywood before purchasing. That’s why you need to understand various plywood grades.

So, let’s move to the next part and discuss various plywood grades.

What is a Plywood Grade?

Plywood grades determine the plywood quality. The Bureau of Indian standards certifies the plywood according to its quality, safety, and reliability for the customers like IS-710 or IS-303 grade plywood.

The quality and durability of plywood mostly depend upon the quality of timber and the glue used. Good quality plywood can withstand extreme weather conditions and high resistance to termite infestation.

In some areas or countries, plywood grades are divided into A, B, C, and D. A is considered the best quality plywood, and the quality gradually decreases with B, C, and D grades.

plywood grades- BWP v/s BWR v/s MR v/s FR
plywood grades- BWP v/s BWR v/s MR v/s FR

Why Plywood grade is Important?

Without plywood grade, a Lehman can’t determine plywood quality. Plywood grades are introduced to help the customers to differentiate the plywood according to the quality and find the plywood according to their needs and budget.

Secondly finding good quality plywood is not easy as the plywood sector is mostly dominated by the unorganized sector. From around INR 243.9 billion crores of plywood industry in India in 2021 only 20% comes from the organized sector. That means out of 10 plywood sold in Indian Market 8 are from the unorganized sector. It may not be surprising to believe that nonofficial estimates may exceed that of the above figure.

Plywood Industry
Plywood Industry

From the above, it’s clear that Knowingly or unknowingly most of us buy either duplicate or low-quality plywood.

Tell me, should we expect reliable plywood from an unorganized sector?

It may be a very small portion but most of it is either duplicate or very low-quality plywood. Most of the unorganized sectors are dominated by either poplar wood or rubberwood and some of them with mixed hardwood (alternate).

I will provide you with a detailed guide at the end so that you can find out the best grade.

Different Plywood Grades

The Bureau of Indian standards divided plywood into 3 grades according to their quality and features. They ensure the conduct of various tests like static bending tests, mycological tests, water resistance tests, moisture content tests, adhesive testing, and another test like the performance of various plywood in various climatic conditions before providing certification or any type of grade to plywood. That are IS-710 Grade (BWP Grade), IS-303 Grade(BWR Grade), and IS-5509(FR Grade).

But due to the introduction of an unorganized sector and the various complexity of the plywood industry, there are 4types of plywood visible in the market. The Bureau of Indian standards mark BWR and MR grades as IS-303 and put both in the plywood for general purposes category but considers BWR grade as AA type whereas puts MR grade into AB or BB type according to their quality. BWR-grade plywood is much better than MR-grade plywood.

*Note-Plywood for general purpose category as per BIS– Moreover, plywood for general purposes shall be classified into three types, namely, AA, and AB, and based on the quality of the two surfaces, namely, A and B in terms of general permissible defects. The type of plywood, shall, therefore, be designated by the kind of surfaces of the panelsThe better-quality surface shall be called ‘face’ and the opposite side shall be called ‘back’.

If the face and the back are of the same quality, they are not distinguished. The type of plywood shall denote first the quality of the face followed by the quality of the back. For example, Type AA shall have both surfaces of quality A, Type AB shall have the face of quality A and the back of quality B and Type BB shall have both surfaces of quality B.

So let’s divide plywood into 4 grades

  • IS 710- BWP Plywood (Known as Marine Plywood)
  • IS 303-BWR Plywood
  • IS 303-MR Plywood
  • IS 5509- Fire Retardent Plywood

IS 710- BWP plywood

Often it’s known as waterproof plywood. BWP stands for boiling waterproof. It’s also called marine plywood or marine grade plywood all around the globe.

This kind of plywood consists of thin veneers from tropical hardwoods mostly Eukalyptus or Gurjan or a mix of both bonded together with high pressure with the help of the waterproof glue or resin called phenol formaldehyde(PF). It has a negligible core gap that limits the chance of water or moisture entering the plywood. Due to the use of Phenol Formaldehyde, it is also called PF plywood or PF-grade plywood. The Bureau of Indian Standards certified it as IS 710 grade. Here is the full product manual for Marine plywood as per BIS.

As the name suggests it can go through with boiling water dipped in for 72 hours without getting damaged. That means it can survive extreme weather conditions and last for years.

Marine Plywood

*Note– This plywood grade is the best one available in the market. This one is the preferred option for long-lasting woodwork as it can tolerate any kind of weather condition, a high screw-holding strength, and is durable for years. You can plan your interior or make modular furniture with go BWP grade plywood from a well-known plywood brand undoubtedly.

IS 303-BWR Grade Plywood

BWR stands for boiling water resistance. So it is not waterproof plywood so it is way cheaper than BWP or marine-grade plywood. It can resist boiling water maximum of up to 8 hours. BWR-grade plywood is the second quality you find in the market. This kind of plywood consists of both hardwood and poplar wood veneers. Alternate types of plywood belong to this grade. Urea-formaldehyde resin is used for bonding the veneers which also weaker disposition than that of PF. So you may find some visible core gaps but in a limited count.

The Bureau of Indian Standards certified it as IS 303 grade and includes it in the plywood for general purposes category for type AA. Here is the full product manual for IS 303 plywood as per BIS.

BWR Plywood
BWR Plywood

*Note- The overall quality of BWR plywood is not so bad. You can use it for temporary furniture making or use it in commercial areas. So many plywood manufacturers sell alternate plywood with IS 710 tags. I am not sure but I don’t know if it’s ethical. You can go with this kind of plywood with a well-known brand. Some top-notch plywood manufacturers sell with MR tags instead of BWR as BIS certifies both MR and BWR as IS 303.

IS 303-MR Grade Plywood

MR stands for moisture resistance. it is purely used for commercial and temporary purposes. Mostly cheap woods like Poplar and rubberwood are used for MR-grade plywood. Urea-formaldehyde resin is used for bonding for this kind of plywood which is cheaper than that PF. Due to cheap quality wood and glue, you can find the core gap visible clearly. It is lightweight, high propensity to bend, has a low screw-holding strength, and is not durable at all.

A perfect MR plywood can stand up to 8 hours dipped in room temperature water without getting damaged. Yes, that is possible with a good brand of plywood. But most of the plywood in the MR segment is dominated by the unorganized sector. So guarantee or warranty on this plywood is somehow useless. The Bureau of Indian standards certifies it as IS 303 grade and puts it in either AB or BB category. Here is the full product manual of MR-grade plywood as per BIS.

MR Plywood
MR Plywood

*Note- This kind of plywood is not advisable for any kind of woodwork for homes or offices. These are purely for commercial uses.

IS 5509- Fire Retradent Grade Plywood

Fire retardant plywood or FR plywood is the same as marine plywood but with an additional feature. it has fire-resistance properties. it is treated with some chemicals to have a slower burn rate. It takes 30 to 40 minutes approximately to catch fire and a further 20 to 25 minutes to burn. It provides you the fire security so that you can get some additional time to escape a fire before burning down. it will cost you a little higher than that marine plywood.

Bureau of Indian standard tagged it as IS 5509: 2000 grade and here is the full product manual for Fire Retardent plywood as per BIS.

Fire Retardent Plywood
Fire Retardent Plywood

*Note– It is waterproof plywood and has all the features the same as any IS 710 grade. You can consider this plywood to get extra protection from the fire.

Comparison between BWP, BWR, MR, and FR-grade plywood

Many people want to know the difference between BWP plywood and BWR plywood or why Marine plywood best than that BWR or MR. So in the below table let’s discuss and compare various things and feature so that it is clear for you to differentiate between them before purchasing.

Plywood Grades>>>
BWP or Marine PlywoodBWR PlywoodMR PlywoodFR Plywood
StrengthVery High/HighAverageLow/Very LowVery High/High
Very HighMediumLowVery High
Very HighMediumLowVery High
Water or moisture
Boiling WaterproofBoiling Water ResistanceMoisture ResistanceBoiling Waterproof
to Bend
Very LowMediumVery HighVery Low
AvailabilityHighHighVery HighAverage
Durability10 years to 25 yearsLess than 7 yearsNo guarantee10 years to 25 years
NoNoNoFire Retardant
Price in INR
(In sq ft)
105 to 16070 to 8540 to 60130 to 160
Value for
Comparison of Plywood grades- BWP Vs BWR Vs MR Vs FR

Which plywood grade is important for making Cabinets?

Always go with IS 710 grade plywood also known as marine plywood. It is boiling waterproof and the best quality plywood available in the market.

What are hardwood plywood grades?

Hardwood plywood belongs to marine grade. It’s also called IS 710 grade or BWP (boiling waterproof) grade.

What are the plywood grades in India?

There are 4 types of plywood grades available in India. IS 710 BWP grade(Marine plywood), IS 303 BWR grade, IS 303 MR grade, and IS 5509 Fire retardant grade.

Is 710 the best-grade plywood?

Yes, IS 710 grade is the best grade of plywood available. Mainly 3 types of plywood belong to the 710 grade. One is made from gurjan wood, one is from hardwood (mostly Eucalyptus) and the third one is a mix of both. Gurjan 710 grade plywood is the best plywood of all.

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