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Comparing Plywood and OSB

Plywood can be made from around 70 species of wood. Basically, it is made from logs that are shaved into thin strips. These strips are allowed to dry and are then graded. Afterwards, the wood strips are put together with the use of adhesive and then put in a hot press. The hot press result to a strong bond as adhesive penetrates every fiber of the wood when heated.

OSB panels are made in almost the same manner. However, several 3-4 inches of solid wood strands are used instead of sheets of solid wood veneer. Special equipment is used to orient each strand such that they form 90-degree angles. Every strand is covered with high quality resin glue. The panels are likewise placed in a hot press to ensure bond strength.

On one hand, both OSB and plywood have superior durability and are designed to stand time. Both materials can be counted on to perform at their best when properly installed.

On the other hand, the two engineered wood materials perform differently under different conditions. During heavy rain pour, plywood with Exposure 1 stamp can be expected to resist water. Exposure 1 engineered wood means that the material was constructed using waterproof glues and resins. As long as the right grade of engineered wood is used, there is nothing to worry about.

There are also OSB panels that are classified as Exposure 1. Likewise, they are built on waterproof materials, particularly the paint used in sealing their edges. However, as soon as the wood fiber edges are exposed, the waterproof quality of an OSB is destroyed. This can happen in normal construction activity like when a carpenter cuts the panels.

The wood fiber edges have the tendency to swell when soaked with water. Although the edges can be sealed after cutting, it requires considerable time and not all carpenters may be capable of or agreeable in doing so.

Different types of OSB also differ in price. At the moment, choosing plywood over OSB may cost a few hundred dollars more. Nevertheless, both types of engineered wood perform well once installed and utilized properly.

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