How to Attach Exterior Plywood to a Wall

Lead Image
  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
Plywood sheathing
Hammer or nail gun
Galvanized nails
Circular saw

Exterior plywood is one of the best ways to provide strength and insulation to a simple wall. It might not provide as much insulation as you can get by using a foam board, but it is an inexpensive alternative. Being relatively easy to work with, exterior plywood can be used in most homes. This step-by-step guide will teach you how to install exterior plywood to the walls of your home.

Step 1 - Choose the Type of Plywood

Choosing the right type of plywood is the most important step before starting the project for any home. Types of plywood include CDX plywood and OSB plywood. CDX plywood consists of several layers of wood that have been glued together whereas OSB plywood consists of chips of wood that are held together by glue. CDX plywood is stronger and more expensive whereas OSB plywood is more moisture-resistant due to its properties (the glue).

Both types of plywood are usually equally effective for attaching to a wall in your residence. The type you choose will depend on local availability and your budget for the whole project. Regardless of the plywood you choose, make sure the plywood is at least 5/16 inches thick for effective insulation and strength for your walls.

Step 2 - Line the Plywood Sheets Against Your Wall

The starting point of the project is to line your plywood sheets against your wall to know how much you will need. According to the size of the wall, you will have to cut the plywood to fit. If your exterior plywood sheets are 4 feet wide for example, a 10 foot wide wall will need 2 1/2 sheets. You will have to cut the plywood with a circular saw accordingly. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves and safety goggles when you cut the plywood to the right size.

Step 3 - Nail the Plywood Edges into the Wall

Once you have your plywood measured and cut, start nailing them into the wall. The trick is to nail the plywood edges into the wall. Use a hammer or a nail gun with galvanized nails to do so. Make sure you’re applying nails at around 6 inch gaps all through one vertical edge of the plywood into the wall.

Step 4 - Nail the Middle of the Exterior Plywood into the Wall

After you have nailed in the edges, it is time to nail in the middle for added structural strength. Use the nail gun to nail the middle of the plywood into the wall. Make sure you are placing nails around 12 inches from each other.

Step 5 - Place the Next Exterior Plywood Sheet

When you have nailed in the edges and middle of one exterior plywood sheet into the wall, place another sheet next to it and repeat the process. Make sure you leave around 1/16 inch gaps between plywood sheets. This will allow them enough room to warp and shift over time when they are exposed to different environmental conditions.