Embrace the simple beauty of plywood walls

Anyone who has installed drywall themselves cries out that there must be a better way. Maneuvering the massively heavy, yet fragile sheets of gypsum and paper into place might just be a DIYer’s worst nightmare.

Drywall makes for beautiful walls but can be a pain to install as a DIYer.

Photo by Georgia National Guard

There actually is a better and lighter way: plywood. While many interior designers snub their noses at the simple wood product, it actually has an uncomplicated beauty that is much easier to work with. A conventional sheet of drywall weighs nearly 60 lb. while a sheet of 1/4 inch birch plywood weighs around 22 lb.

Plywood is a lighter alternative and gives walls a unique look.

Plywood is an engineered wood made from thin sheets of veneer from debarked wood. They are glued together in varying thicknesses to create different types of plywood. Typically used for cabinets or for doors, plywood has a lot of strength and resists shrinking and warping.

Plywood comes in a variety of styles and thicknesses.

Thinner sheets of plywood (usually 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch) can also be used to create beautiful wooden walls. Plywood comes in several different types of wood and sheets can be cut into creative patterns. Walls can then be left unstained to celebrate the natural grain, or stained or painted for a personal touch. Plywood should not be used or used sparingly in wet areas such as bathrooms.

Check out these tiny houses and their plywood wall designs below. Maybe they will offer inspiration for your own DIY walls sans drywall.

1. Isabel Paige’s Tiny House in the Mountains

YouTuber Isabel Paige used plywood in the interior of her 25-foot tiny house in the mountains of Washington State. The design she came up with is reminiscent of many summer cottages found in Scandinavia. She plans on painting the walls white.

2. The Peak by Grimshaw Architects

The Peak in Melbourne, Australia is 350 square feet of stylish design that meets functional space. The house contains a cube-shaped pod that integrates the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, bedroom, and couch. The materials (including the plywood) are sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly.

3. LIGHT HAUS by SolHaus Design

The LIGHT HAUS by SolHaus Design is a 190 square foot home with a loft that features plywood in various weights and styles. The many windows lighten up the wood and give it a fresh look reminiscent of its name.

4. River Thames Beach Shack

Marcia Mihotich and Durrell Bishop’s tiny beach shack on an estuary near London raises the classic beach shack up a notch or two. The interior is completely covered in dense construction plywood. The design couple picked the plywood for its wood grain patterns.

5. Hawkes Bay Tiny House by Le Workshop

Based in New Zealand, Le Workshop builds practical tiny spaces that reflect a simple beauty. Their Hawkes Bay Tiny House has highly finished plywood walls and ceilings that reflect light from the large windows.

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]


6 thoughts on “Embrace the simple beauty of plywood walls”

  1. One thing to keep in mind, drywall is a fire break, plywood is very much not. In a tiny house it might not matter as much because the whole point of a fire barrier is to give you time to get out. In a 6000sq home that could be a thing, but in 400sq ft tiny home I don’t know that it’s a big deal. You can’t get more than 12 feet from an exit if you wanted to.

    • If you want to build your tiny house to conform to the building code (if it’s permanent) then you still need the drywall as a fire break. You can then cover it with wood if you like that look. Some people may be more comfortable with their skills with wood than their skills finishing drywall.
      The International Building Code allows for tiny rooms (70 SF bedroom [6.5 SM], 100 SF [9.3 SM] living room) so your home could be legal and tiny if your location doesn’t have a minimum square footage requirement.


Leave a Comment