How to Make Plywood Smooth and Shiny [7 Plywood Finishing Ideas]

Whenever I go to some restaurants or other beautiful places, I always notice their smooth and shiny types of furniture as I’m so fond of it. This shiny look of furniture changes the whole environment. You feel like you are living in a royal place.

That’s why everyone wants their furniture shiny and smooth. But to attain that you should work to your plywood. If you make your plywood smooth and shiny then the furniture will be amazing too. In this article, we are going to tell you how to make plywood smooth and shiny. Stay tuned!

But, first, you should know about the things that affect smoothness and shine of plywood, so that, you can keep them in your mind while sanding. There are many products out there and some things that you should know about if you want a smooth and shiny finish. Let’s check them out and also, follow the easy steps of making your plywood smooth and shiny later on.

How to Make Plywood Smooth and Shiny

1. Quality of Plywood

The smoothness and shine of plywood depend on the quality of plywood. There are some grades of plywood such as A grade through D grade. Grade A plywood is high in quality while grade D plywood is not high in quality and comes with knots and probabilities of splits.

Plywood is compiled from sleazy flakes of piles and glued with each other. If you want to use plywood that is less than grade A then you have to sand it before you start the steps that I am going to tell below. Also, make sure that the sandpaper is 90 grit, and don’t forget to clean the plywood after sanding.

But if you use a grade A plywood then there’s no need to worry. You can just follow the steps undermentioned. Also, it will take less time and will be easier preparing if you use high-grade plywood. Read Also: Staining Birch Plywood: 4 Steps to Get a Richer Finish

Diffrent grade Quality of Plywood

2. Follow the Manufacturer’s Instruction of Wood Grain Filler

You should maintain the manufactures’ instructions of wood grain filler. Woodgrain filler is used to fill the pores of the wood. You can apply them to any holes, gaps, or areas that are not so perfect. You need a plastic knife to scrape this. Also, sand it after the wood grain filler dries to get a smooth finish.

maintain manufactures instructions of wood grain filler
wood grain filler=>

3. Sand Perfectly

Sand plywood with orbital sander Perfectly
Sand with orbital sander=>

Sanding is a critical thing, that’s why it takes time. You should not hurry while sanding, otherwise, you will ruin the whole thing. Take as much time as it requires. The finish of the plywood will be better if you sand it more.

Orbital sander works perfectly for the whole sanding process. It also comes with a vacuum bag. Though, you need a hand sander at the end as hand sanders are really good for the finish. It gives you a smooth finish. Also, make sure that you are doing the sanding evenly. Be gentle and sand the whole plywood evenly.

There are different kinds of sandpaper. Different grits are used for different reasons. For instance, 40 grit sandpaper is used when the plywood remains in a terrible structure while 400 grit sandpaper is used to smooth the surface which is in good shape.

We will find sandpaper at the market from 40 grit to 600 grit. The roughest sandpaper is “40 grit sandpaper”. The higher the grit number is, the finer the sandpaper will be. Must Read: How to Sand Plywood to Get a Smooth Finish.

4. Use Polyurethane

apply wipe on Polyurethane plywood
apply wipe-on Polyurethane=>

If you are looking for a smooth and shiny texture then “Polyurethane” is the perfect thing for you. If you want a perfect shiny finish then you must stress, sand and smooth it again and again. Also, you can put a coat on the underside. It is helpful because wood sometimes shrinks and swells as it soaks humidity and moisture. You can lessen the rate of absorbency by using polyurethane.

5. Use Envirotex (high gloss finish/epoxy)

apply envirotex finish plywood
envirotex finish=>

The honourable mention for this application goes to a product named Envirotex. The product gained its popularity from its ease of use and the finish quality.

Envirotex is basically an epoxy resin that has a short curing time of somewhere around 8 to 10 hours. The great thing about the Envirotex is that you do not need to further polish to achieve the peak shine. It works easily at room temperature and reaches the final hardness at 48 hours.

And the great thing about this product is, the application is exactly the same as applying polyurethane. You can simply replace polyurethane with Envirotex and follow the usual procedure of polyurethane application.

Now, we can go to the next step as you already know about the things that will help you to get shiny and smooth plywood.

6 Steps of How to Make Plywood Smooth and Shiny:

Step 1 [sand plywood with 40-grit sandpaper]

Sand the plywood by using a sanding disk and orbital sander. If your quality of the plywood is less than grade A then use a 40-grit sand disk first as this is the roughest sand disk and used to shape plywood that is not in a good shape.

If the plywood is grade A or higher then use 220 grit sandpaper. Sanding will make the plywood smooth.

Step 2 [sand plywood with 90-grit & 220 grit sandpaper]

Use a vacuum to dispel the sanding dust and clean the plywood by using a damp cloth. After that, let the plywood dry. Then, take a 90-grit sand disk for initial sanding and sand the plywood evenly. After that, repeat the process of sanding again but this time, use 220 grit sand disks.

Step 3 [Apply a wood grain Filler]

After that, apply wood grain filler where needed. Make sure that the quality is good. After applying, let it dry. Then, sand it again with a 220-grit sand disk. Sand the plywood lightly.

Step 4 [apply wipe-on polyurethane]

minwax Wipe On Poly clear stain

Now, apply polyurethane, stain, or paint on the plywood. You can use a paintbrush for this purpose. You can use Polyurethane for both indoor and outdoor. It will seal your plywood. After applying Polyurethane, let it dry by following the direction of the manufactures.

Step 5 [Sand again with 220 grit sandpaper]

Take a 220-grit sanding disk and an orbital sander and sand your plywood gently by using them. After that, mob the plywood by using a tidy rag to clean the plywood. Then, apply Polyurethane, stain, or paint again as most of these need a second coat. The second coat will help to seal the plywood completely. Let the Polyurethane, stain, or paint dry.

Step 6 [Sand again with 320 grit sandpaper]

After that, take a 320-grit sandpaper and sand the plywood gently by using your hand. 320 grit sandpaper is a high grit sandpaper. It will make your plywood shine if you gently sand it evenly. So, sand gently to get a smooth and shiny finish. Don’t forget to clean the plywood.

7 Plywood Finishing Ideas:

Just like other wood pieces, plywood products also need to be finished. If you finish your plywood correctly then it will improve the look and also protect the plywood from dirt. Finishing will enhance the beauty of your plywood too.

On this page, you are going to know about plywood finishing ideas. Stay tuned!

a) Before Starting

It is very important to be sure about how you are willing to finish your plywood before you start. Because different finishes need different materials and methods. Thus, there are some things that you should do properly before you start finishing. Otherwise, they will hamper your finishing. Here are them.

b) Sanding

It is very important to sand perfectly otherwise; the finishing will not be good. And you cannot cover this up by finish. The finish will be rugged if the surface of your plywood is rough. That’s why sanding is very important.

The surface of the plywood should be sanded with 150-180 grit sandpaper before you start to apply the finish. Also, keep the direction of sanding in line. Clean the dust with a piece of damp cloth when you are done.

For finish sanding, don’t use the belt, Sander. Always use the hand sander or the vibratory sander.

c) Staining

Stain helps you to change the colour of the plywood and make it look like another kind of wood. That’s why, before applying the finish people apply the wood stain. It makes the plywood look more attractive. Read Also: Staining Wood Dark: 7 Tips to Get Darker & Richer Finish

d) Selecting Lacquer or Varnish

Just like any other wood, plywood also needs the application of lacquer or varnish for finishing. Lacquer and varnish both are kind of similar and gives you a clear finish. Though lacquer gives you higher shine the other results are similar.

applying minwax lacquer spray to gloss the wood
Minwax lacquer spray=>

It is very tough to decide which one you are going to use as both are similar. But if you want a shiny finish then lacquer is the perfect one for you. Lacquer can give your desirable semi-gloss and high gloss finish.

Now, the question which will come to your mind is how to apply this. Usually, the varnish is brushed on and lacquer is sprayed on. Spraying is a little bit difficult as it requires a dust-free sphere and right materials. But varnish can be done without these. So, if you don’t have a paint booth then you have to choose varnish.

Also, varnish works well over stained plywood which lacquer does not. You can also use other finishing processes if you use varnish.

e) Paste Wood Filler

Paste wood filler is a kind of tremendous product which is used for finishing. Often, we see pores or holes on grain. It usually fills them as it gives you a thick layer. You can spread it onto your plywood. After applying, let it dry and after that remove the excess. It will give you a smooth finish.

You can use paste wood filler before staining or after staining. Though, the result will be different. If you apply the paste wood filler before staining then it will darken the filler and will give it a bright tan color. But if you apply the paste wood filler after staining then it will make the dark parts look lighter.

f) Sealing the Plywood Surface

When it comes to the first coat of finish, you should always use a sanding sealer. You don’t have to wait much for drying as it dries quickly. You can sand again after you wait for 20 minutes. Make sure that you are using 220 grit sandpaper while sanding the dry sealer.

You don’t have to be worried about using grain as you are sanding the finish. But make sure that you don’t over-sand. After sanding the finish, you will get a soapy and smooth surface. After that, wipe the surface of plywood again and let it dry. Read Also: Best Finish for Kitchen Table Top 2020

g) Varnishing

After doing all these things now you are ready for varnishing. If you use lacquer then it will be better if you spray it. Though you can find brushing lacquer it is not used at all.

high gloss varnish result
high gloss varnish=>

If you want a smooth and shiny finish then you have to spray the lacquer. On the other hand, varnish won’t give you much shine and it should be brushed on. After brushing, let it dry and sand it with 320-grit sandpaper.

Repeat this coating process for a few times and sand between them every time until you get the perfect finish. Always try to sand lightly especially when you sand between coats. Also, you cannot sand the final coat.

high performance urethane for finishing
high-build urethane=>

You can also use “high-build urethane” for finishing. You can get the same finish by using this without applying many coats of varnish. This finishing product is thick. You can pour this on a table and use a paintbrush to spread it.

Do you know clearly how to make plywood smooth and shiny? It’s not a difficult job to make your plywood smooth and shine. All you have to do is go through the basics again to know it from the core and do a little bit of practice. Also, let us know if you find this article helpful or not. Share your thoughts in the comment box.

Last Updated on May 11, 2021 by Rogers Weber

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