How Much Does a Luan Cost?

Written by: Staff

Luan, generated from the lauan or lawaan tree, is a lightweight wood.  Even though it is not completely accurate, luan is sometimes referred to as a medium-grade Philippine mahogany because it can be finished to look like the more expensive wood.  The luan species of wood is commonly found in the South Pacific rim and Asia, specifically in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Luan is sometimes promoted as a solid board or light plywood.  Its surface finish is very smooth, and most often, without defects.  But if ever you notice a slight defect in luan plywood, it can be easily filled and sanded smooth.

luan base by Ctd 2005, on Flickr
luan base” (CC BY 2.0) by  Ctd 2005

How much does luan plywood cost?

Most sheets of luan at a local lumber yard/retailer will be between $7 and $30 per sheet.  The cost will depend on the thickness and the size that needs to be cut.  Most average purchases will be $15 to $20 per sheet or about $0.40 to $0.60 per square foot for a 4’x’8′, 1/4-inch thick board.

According to, the cost of a ¼-inch thick piece of Luan plywood is about $15 per sheet. says a 1/8-inch thick piece of luan plywood retails for $18 while a 1/4-inch thick piece can cost $21.  3/8-inches and 3/4-inches can be between $55 to $70.

At Menards, for example, a sheet of

Luan overview

Luan plywood is usually cut in four to eight feet long and can come in a variety of thicknesses, including 1/8, ¼, ½ or ¾ of an inch.

Luan is made of a composite that comes from tropical woods and particle board.  This type of wood is balanced, reducing the warping when installed.  It is flexible, workable and can be reused.  It is also resistant to shrinking, splitting and twisting.

What are the extra costs?

If you need the plywood cut to a specific size, the retailer may charge a small fee.

Uses of luan plywood

Luan can be used as a floor underlayment, which is sandwiched in between the subfloor and the finished flooring. This layer provides additional support to ensure the floor finish is smooth, level and firm. For this reason, Luan plywood is considered an acceptable underlayment material for its resiliency. It often works well with different floor finishes, including carpet, vinyl tiles and hardwood floors.

Luan plywood’s distinct strength can be attributed to the different layers of wood glued together to create a panel. Because it is lightweight and relatively cheap, Luan plywood — particularly those that are 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick  — is considered good material for cabinet and furniture backing and drawer sides and bottoms. The thicker 3/4-inch plywood is used for less expensive grade furniture such as tables, chairs, bookshelves and plant boxes.

Both white and red Luan plywood can serve as a solid surface panel for doors with hollow cores. It has been used in the U.S. as a door-facing since the late 1950s, as reported by the nonprofit organization Rainforest  Relief. When red Luan wood is stained, it resembles the surface of the mahogany wood. On the other hand, the white Luan door resembles cherry wood when treated and finished.

Apart from large woodworking projects that can be created from luan plywood, it is also used in making small crafts. The 1/8 inch thick plywood is a popular material for making doll houses and birdhouses. Since it will not split or splinter when cut into smaller pieces, it is also used as backing for picture frames and making miniature woodcrafts.

Tips to know:

Luan plywood is usually pinkish in color, although some materials can appear to have a shade that is more reddish than others.

When cutting luan plywood, do it from the back of the sheet and support it on either side.  Because the board tends to be thin, cutting can become a challenge.

If you intend to make luan board as an underlayment, make sure that the existing subfloor is securely fastened to the floor joists.

If your room is not prone to excessive moisture, consider using luan as an underlayment for vinyl flooring.

You can get cheaper luan panels out of sapwood from the mahogany tree.

If you wish your luan plywood to achieve a high sheen,  apply a dark stain and several coats of a polyurethane clear finish.

Luan is different from mahogany in that it is generally much more grainy than mahogany and second, it does not take on a patina the way mahogany does.

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