How to Finish Baltic Birch Plywood

Person applying stain with a brush to a birch wood bench

Baltic birch plywood is a great material that can be used for a wide array of home projects; from cabinets to bookcases. Using it also offers many advantages, which is why it is such a popular building material.  Thanks to its inherent strength, carpenters and DIYers love using Baltic birch plywood because screws hold better to it than with other types of plywood. Its strength and stability also make it less likely to warp, which is another huge advantage. In addition, the uniform layers of wood allow the edges to look good even when left exposed. With all this said, quite possibly one of the biggest advantages is the light-colored birch veneer and natural woodgrain look that many people find attractive. 

How to Finish Baltic Birch Plywood  

Whatever project you decide to use Baltic birch plywood for, one of the last important steps will be to apply a finish. Finishing Baltic birch can be done a few different ways, but to begin, you’ll want to start with a clean surface.   First, gently clean the plywood with a damp rag to remove any dust and debris. Since most furniture-grade birch plywood is already sanded, sanding isn’t necessary. If you do want to sand, make sure to do it lightly, or you’ll sand past the thin veneer. A light sanding of the edges will remove any splinters from where the plywood was cut. 

Best Finish for Baltic Birch Plywood 

Most people use Baltic birch plywood because of its light color and beautiful grain, so the methods described below are intended to help you retain the natural beauty of the wood. If you want to paint your plywood, it’s best to select one that isn’t as expensive, since you’re going to cover the natural wood grain anyway.   To keep the light color of Baltic birch it’s better to select water-based wood finishes. (Most oil-based wood finishes tend to turn yellow over time.)  The four best types of finishes for Baltic birch:  
  1. Clear water-based polyurethane: Can be sprayed, brushed, or rolled on. One of the most durable finishing options available. 
  2. Soap finish: Inexpensive and easy to apply, but maintenance and reapplication is key to maintaining a long-lasting finish. 
  3. Clear lacquer: More difficult and time consuming to apply but provides long-lasting protection.  
  4. Stain: If you want to add some color to your Baltic birch project, make sure to use a pre-stain conditioner. Gel stain is also preferred since Baltic birch plywood tends to absorb stain unevenly.  
Deciding which finish is best is really a matter of personal preference. Therefore, we recommend using a piece of scrap plywood to apply each type of finish. This will help you determine how long it takes for each finish to dry and what the final result looks like before you spend all your time and effort on something you don’t love.   

Make Your Other Paint Projects Look Great 

Baltic birch plywood is a versatile material that looks great when finished. To make sure all of your other paint projects come out looking great too, call the painting pros at Five Painting. We have the experience and expertise to make any interior and/or exterior painting project look its best. To learn more, give us a call at, (888) 261-3633 or request a free estimate online today!