Image: Anthony Koithra via Instagram (one of our clients!)
What’s the difference between Baltic Birch Plywood, Canadian Birch Plywood, and MDF?
Good question! And one we get asked a lot…
Let’s start with what they have in common!
All three of these materials come in 4’x8′ sheets, varying thicknesses, and can be ordered cut to any size.
You can refer to this blog post if you want to skip a head to how to order custom cut lumber now!
Otherwise, let’s continue.
Let’s start with MDF!
MDF or Ultra-Lite MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard, and is compressed sawdust and glue.
It’s flat and smooth and is a good option if you are not as concerned with strength and plan on painting.
MDF also gives you the most options for thickness, we stock 1⁄4” 1⁄2” 3⁄4” and 1”. MDF is also the most affordable option.
It does not have the wood look like the plywood options, but it is very smooth and great for painting. So you can get creative with colors and have fun!
The most common uses for MDF are closest shelves, shelving units (if you don’t plan to display too much weight, and many artists & galleries use MDF to make pedestals.
Below are samples of all the thicknesses we stock, and you can see the smooth texture…
Here is a stack of 3/4″ MDF in our store! And, don’t forget these large sheets can be cut to any size!
Next, we have Canadian Birch!
First of all we are talking about plywood here, which is classified as an engineered wood, like MDF or Masonite but instead of one solid piece of compressed materials you have thin layers or “plies” of wood veneer that are glued together.
Canadian Birch Plywood is a popular option. It is more expensive than MDF, but also stronger and looks nicer especially if you want your piece to look like wood and do not plan on painting.
Also, plywood furniture has become very popular and many people like the look of the exposed plies. Canadian birch has 5 plies, see image below. It can also be stained for a lovely finish. We often recommend for kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, and furniture like this DIY desk!
The images below are of 3/4″ Canadian birch, but we also stock 1/2″ and 1″.
The edge tape option…
If you prefer a clean finished edge that transforms the plywood into a solid piece of wood, you can opt to have it edge taped, or better yet…do it yourself!
We sell a lot of edge tape or wood band in a variety of sizes (pictured below) and walk you through the process in this post.
You can also see the difference between the edge taped piece of custom cut plywood vs. the exposed ply edge…check it out!
Last, but definitely not least and very popular with our design clients…Baltic Birch Plywood!
The main upgrade here…more plies! So, definitely stronger and also it’s a look with a lot of design appeal.
There are 13 plies here people…Canadian birch has 5 plies, and Baltic birch plywood has 13 plies.
Baltic birch plywood is our most high end option, but to create a one of a kind piece it’s awesome.
We usually stock Baltic birch in 3/4″, but we can also get 1/2″ and 1″.
Below we wanted to share some recent work using Baltic birch by some of our clients…see for yourself!
Images below by our clients:
1. Sepehr Mokhta via Instagram
2. Anthony Koithra via Instagram
Update on Baltic Birch as of January 2023
The only Baltic Birch (still 13 ply) we can get down here in NYC right now is BB/BB meaning it has those “football patches” on both sides, there
are no clear face sheets available at the moment those would be B/BB meaning a clear face, on one side.
Below is a photo with the “football patch” we are referring to.
Always email us for the latest info on what is available in the market as things are always changing!
Now, what to do with all these options?
Anything! These three options offer a lot of versatility and are all popular options for custom furniture, custom shelving, floating shelf designs, and more.
If you want to explore our solid wood board options you can read about pine, poplar, and red oak here.
Don’t forget the best part about MDF, Canadian birch plywood, and Baltic birch plywood…they all come in 4’x8′ sheets and can be custom cut to any size you need, by us! If you don’t live in the NYC area, ask your local lumber yard!
If you do live in the NYC area, we guarantee we are the best game in town for precise custom cutting, and we deliver!
For other FAQ’s you can check out this post, if you’re ready to do this…
Head on over to our custom cut order page, and let’s get started on your next project!
Baltic birch aka Russian birch is no longer available in the U.S.
Is it available to you in Canada?
You can buy Baltic birch in US. I buy it all the time in texas
Midtown Lumber is in the US, New York City and we sell Baltic Birch! Thank you!
Baltic Birch is available in Alaska but also is a pretty dollar for 1 sheet. So far right now it’s $204.00 for a 8×4 sheet.
Hey Dan, in Alaska!
The only Baltic Birch we can get down here in NYC right now is BB/BB meaning it has those “football patches” on both sides, there are no clear face sheets available at the moment those would be B/BB meaning a clear face, on one side.
The price for the BB/BB 3/4″ sheet right now is around $270 but the price is always changing and just went up again due to the scarcity.
If anyone is looking for BB/BB please email us for a current price firstname.lastname@example.org.
As lumber dealers run out of stock BB plywood will get very scarse or non existant until maybe never. 1/2″ is still widely available asis 3/8″ and 1/4″. Few dealers have any 3/4″ left in stock
Seems to me the Canadian and Alaska plywood mills have a ready market for 13 ply BB.
Where can you get this? Canadian and Alaskan 13 ply
We can get Baltic Birch 13 ply BB/BB, which has “football patches” on both sides. There are no clear face sheets available at the moment those would be B/BB meaning a clear face, on one side.
You can email email@example.com for more info, pricing, and a photo of the “football patches” on the Baltic Birch 13 ply BB/BB we can get. Thank you!