By Rich Ligotino | Dec 10, 2016
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There is often a debate on whether to use plywood or OSB on projects. Which is right for you?
Plywood is manufactured from two or more layers of thin wood that are glued and pressed together, with the direction of the grain alternating. They are usually sold in sheets of 4 ft. x 8 ft. Plywood is available in several thicknesses, with 1/2″ inch being the most popular for most construction applications.
Plywood comes in a variety of different grades and quality. CDX plywood is the lowest class of plywood and is often used in the construction industry, or as a base for other materials. Roofers like to use CDX plywood because it is extremely durable, which makes it ideal for a roof deck.
Plywood is very popular in construction because it is less likely to crack and break when nailed or screwed at the edges, unlike its OSB counterpart. It is lightweight and easy to maneuver around. It is also less likely to swell or warp due to the balanced tension of layers.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
Oriented strand board panels are engineered and manufactured with wood particle boards that have been ground into thin wood strands. The strands are then mixed with wax and adhesives and hot pressed to form wood sheets.
OSB also comes in various sizes and thicknesses. Unlike plywood, it can also be manufactured in larger sizes up to 8 ft. x 24 ft.
So which is better, OSB or Plywood?
The simple answer is, it all depends on the application.
Plywood is a highly versatile board that can be used in a wide range of structural, interior and exterior applications, from formwork to internal paneling. It can even be used to make furniture and cabinets.
The one downside to plywood is that is costs considerably more than it’s OSB counterpart, up to double the cost and even more, depending on the grade of plywood.
OSB is great for most construction applications such as subfloors, walls and roof sheathing. It is slightly heavier than plywood and not as maneuverable or durable as plywood, but it gets the job done in most situations.
In most applications, you will get the same performance out of both OSB and plywood, but if cost is your major concern go with OSB.
If cost is not a concern at all, then go with the versatility and durability of plywood.