Hardwood plywood is an appearance-based product manufactured from a
natural resource with unending variation. Therefore, every panel will
be different (although it is this natural variation that provides each
panel with its unique beauty!). That variation, however, can make it
difficult for a specifier to get the panels they want. Is there a way
for the specifier to communicate clearly to the manufacturer what it is
that they want? Yes, there is. The answer is to use a published
standard which defines the type and quantity of natural and other
characteristics allowed in each grade.  The Voluntary Standard for
Hardwood and Decorative Plywood
, maintained by HPVA and updated in 2009, describes the
appearance and performance characteristics of hardwood plywood.  The
use of the Voluntary Standard, recognized by manufacturers,
distributors, and end users, improves the communications process when
placing orders.

The Standard outlines the nationally recognized specs for
hardwood plywood and is an important tool to help both buyer and
seller. Although the Standard is often thought of as only an
appearance standard, it is actually much broader in scope.  In
addition to the species grade tables that describe the allowable
appearance characteristics in each grade, the Standard also governs the
construction, core and back grades, glue bond performance, formaldehyde
emissions, moisture content, dimensions, and finish of the panel.  A
panel manufactured to the HP–1 Standard must meet or exceed the
requirements for all of those critical performance indicators. 
Therefore, specifying an HP–1 panel is the best way to ensure you get a
quality panel.

The Voluntary Standard is the common denominator of
understanding among manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and end
users. You, as the customer, may specify on your purchase documents
that the products ordered must meet specifications described in the
published Voluntary Standard. Manufacturers, if they want your
business, must then uphold your wishes. Copies of the Standard may be
purchased through our secure publications

However, it pays to spend a little time thinking about what
you want before you place an order. As the pressures on our hardwood
resource continue to grow, it becomes increasingly important that we
use that valuable resource as efficiently as possible.  By their very
nature, veneered hardwood plywood panels make exceptional use of this
resource, but it is still important to consider what kinds of panels we
use.  The typical rotary hardwood log produces a large amount of B and
C grade material but only a small percentage of AA grade material. 
Customers that automatically request an A or AA panel (without
consideration of other grades) simply because they perceive it to be
“the best” may in fact be doing themselves a disservice.  When
selecting panels for a job, take the time to determine whether or not a
B or C grade panel might work for you.  By considering a lower grade
panel, you may be getting a significant value on a panel that will work
just as well, while at the same time helping to maintain and preserve
our treasured hardwood resource.