OSB vs Plywood: Which Is Better For Construction?

It took several years for detractors who swore by the strength and durability of solid wood panels to make the shift to OSB (oriented strand board) and plywood. Today, however, if you pass a wood-framed house under development, the chances are that it uses OSB as exterior sheathing.


OSB claims about 70 percent more of the North American wood sheathing market than plywood. While both have their benefits and drawbacks, it’s important to ask which one is better for construction—especially with regard to subfloors, walls, and roofs.

We’ve answered this question right here.


History


Plywood is made from thin sheets of wood that have been cut from a spinning log, which are then glued together in alternating directions to improve strength.

On the other hand, OSB is made from small, rectangular-shaped wood chips from small, resinous trees. These are hot-pressed in alternating layers that run perpendicular to each other. OSB is different from chipboard and waferboard—it is designed to have stiffness and strength that is equal to plywood.


Plywood was first used about nearly a century ago, but it took several decades for it to replace solid wood planks. OSB came about in the 60s, and it, too, was met with skepticism at first. It wasn’t until 2000 that it gained popularity over plywood and became the industry standard in sheathing.


Cost


One of the reasons why OSB took off much faster than plywood was its cost. At current prices, sheathing a 2400 sq. ft. home—the average US house size—would cost about $700 less with OSB compared to plywood.


In terms of installation, both have very similar costs. The only difference is that OSB is slightly more flexible, which can be advantageous or disadvantageous depending upon the size and distance between joists.


Durability


OSB and plywood are very similar in terms of strength and performance. Research has shown that plywood is about 7 percent stronger compared to OSB. The main difference lies in permeability and how they react to water.



OSB absorbs water slowly. However, it also takes longer to dry out more slowly and can swell up as a result. Plywood absorbs water faster, but it also dries out quicker, too—and it returns to its original state. The good news is that there are newer versions of OSB that have been treated to be waterproof.


Which is better?


For shelves and cabinets: Plywood comes in many different textures and styles. This means it can be employed for exterior use such as cabinets and shelves. On the other hand, OSB does not have a top veneer and, thus, isn’t used for surfaces that require paint or stain.


For roof and siding: OSB is a better option for roof and siding when properly waterproofed and maintained. It is heavier and more consistent compared to plywood, which means that it lies flatter.


For subfloor panels: Plywood is considered a better option for flooring because OSB is slightly more flexible and can bend under heavy weights. This may result in a squeaking sound or, in the worst-case scenario, cause tile to crack.


Choosing a reliable manufacturer


Choosing a reliable manufacturer is crucial when you want quality construction materials. MagMatrix is the leading solution provider in the construction industry. Our focus on research and innovation has allowed us to develop construction boards with advanced fire-suppressing and moisture-resistance and weather defense capabilities.

We provide a variety of sheathing boards such as 3/4 plywood subfloor and OSB subfloor to clients all over the world.


For more information, drop us a message or call 86-335-3327878

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