Both OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and Plywood are used for walls, floors, and roofs. Many people have personal preferences of which one they prefer to work with, but which one is better, between plywood and OSB?

Plywood and OSB- Which one is better?

Plywood was first produced around 1900 in Oregon. For decades, this was the only choice up until the 1970’s when OSB was developed. This was a milestone in building, as this gave homeowners and builders two options when building homes. The Engineered Wood Association recognizes these two products as equal so deciding can be difficult.

Comparisons: Plywood and OSB?

OSB is more cost efficient because it is manufactured with adhesives and wood flakes, which makes it just as strong and durable as plywood.

Resource-efficient builders prefer OSB because it is made from small, fast growing trees that are harvested in tree farms versus natural forests.

OSB is available in larger panels than plywood, which makes large projects easier. OSB panels can be found in lengths up to 16 feet, whereas plywood is limited to 8 to 10 feet.

For larger projects, builders and contractors feel that OSB is a better choice because it boasts more consistent density. An average sheet of plywood is usually 5 to 7 piles thick, whereas a sheet of OSB can have as many as 50 strands packed and layered making it extremely strong. This eliminates any weak spots that are common when using plywood.

Plywood is much easier to use and manipulate because it weighs significantly less than OSB. OSB can be two or more pounds more per sheet than plywood. Even though this does not hinder the performance of OSB at all, it is a nuisance.

plywood and osb

One of the biggest differences between OSB and plywood is how they both react then exposed to moisture over long periods of time. In snowy and rainy climates, flooring is often covered with rain and snow during the construction process. In these situations, plywood is the way to go. Unlike OSB, plywood swells consistently and evenly through and across the sheet. And, once it dries out, it returns to it original dimensions. This means less disruption on floors and roofs overall.

Plywood also has an advantage when it comes to stiffness. This means that subflooring panels do not have to be as thick.

Overall, it seems that homeowners tend to carry the perception that plywood is a higher quality product than OSB. This is mainly because plywood looks more like real wood. When looking at a panel of OSB, you can see all the pieces and parts that are melded together to make it. This leads many to believe it will eventually fall apart.

Plywood is often the first choice of builders and homeowners, merely because it was the first product of its kind and has performed consistently over time. Therefore, out of sheer loyalty- it still has a lot of followers.

The Future of Plywood and OSB?

Overall, it appears that OSB is pushing plywood out of the way. Although the trends are inconsistent, OSB is leading in the fight between the two. This is only going to continue to be the case. because manufacturers are already working on ways to improve OSB as a result. OSB will most likely be the future when it comes to building. With only a few downfalls to address, the final product should deliver long lasting and dependable product across the board.