Birch or Polypropylene?

Posted on 23 November 2011

"What is the difference between birch and polypropylene?" 

We get asked this a lot so we put together some specifications, applications and pro's/con's for each. Polypropylene is a lightweight option has a fluted core laminated to an ABS top skin. ABS is the sheet that is laminated to our birch wood. We also carry different types of wood upon request. We can also do different skins such as fiberglass, hexagrip, etc. 

Polypropylene's greatest feature is the weight. We typically recommend it for applications where the case needs to be as light as possible, especially when flying or just trying to shave off some weight. Most common uses are guitar cases, pedal boards, amp cases, keyboard cases, etc. Both have their pro's and con's but both are very good materials. On larger cases, we typically recommend birch and usually 3/8" or 1/2" if it is large or bearing high weight loads.

On pedal boards, guitar cases, etc - we would expect to see about 5-8 lbs off, sometimes more depending on the size of the case, with the polypropylene versus the wood. On amp and cab cases, it's often a good bit more. We have a calculator that we input the dimensions and hardware and we can usually get you a figure to the nearest pound of what a case will weigh if you have certain requirements.

Below are some basic comparisons, things we've (and our customers) have noticed. With airline prices, polypropylene can pay itself off pretty quick. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us!



1/4" Birch 1/4" Polypropylene
3/8" Birch 3/8" Polypropylene
1/2" Birch 3/8" Stucco


Basic Comparisons:


1/4" Birch     1/4" Polypropylene
Weight Wood is the heaviest 30-40% lighter than wood
Cost     Most economical Typically $35-50 more than wood
Flexing The firmest material Flexes more than wood
Warping Possible warping in high heat Will not warp 
Impact Crack before puncture Will not break but can puncture
Cosmetics Best over time Can dent in



Technical Comparisons:


1/4" Birch 1/4" Polypropylene
Weight/Sheet 27 22.2
Sheet Size 48" x 96" 59" x 90"
Lbs per/sq. in. 0.00585 0.00418
Thickness .25" .28"
Tensile Strength 21,022 8,373
Flexural Strength at Yield 24,572 21,068   
Impact Strength Falling Iron Dart 96.4 in/lbf-break 288 in/lbf-no break


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  • James McTague: May 02, 2013

    There is a picture with this set of a clear board. What is that material? How much is it? How can I order it?

  • Janai: January 05, 2012

    These pieces raelly set a standard in the industry.

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