I am building a built-in desk for my home office. I plan to use 3/4" plywood over a 2x4 frame and attach the frame to the studs. I understand that the table top needs to be allowed to expand/contract so I'm planning to attach the plywood to the 2x4 frame using cleats or similar hardware for this purpose. The desk will be from wall to wall (~8'). Do I need to leave a gap between the plywood top and the walls to allow for expansion and contraction? If so, how much would you recommend?

  • I can't believe we've never directly answered the question about plywood movement before! There are many previous Q&As that touch on it in various contexts that all say the same thing, you don't need to worry about movement with ply. What this means in practice is you can screw it directly to framing, no need of buttons, figure-eight fasteners or the like and no expansion gaps are needed.
    – Graphus
    Jun 21 '18 at 12:10

The plywood will not expand or contract a noticeable amount. You will not need to use special hardware to accommodate for movement.

  • To specify, this is because plywood is made of layers of thin wood (not unlike veneer) in a pattern of alternating grain direction, all glued together. All that glue is what makes plywood so heavy, and the alternating grain orientation is what gives it it's strength, rigidity, and movement-resistance. Jun 21 '18 at 13:02

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