Selecting the Right Plywood
Oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood are wood structural panels made by compressing and gluing pieces of wood together. While OSB and plywood appear similar and are generally interchangeable, the different ways that each material is manufactured contribute to each having its own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
OSB is manufactured from heat-cured adhesives and rectangular- shaped wood strands that are arranged in cross-oriented layers. Produced in large, continuous mats, OSB is a solid-panel product of consistent quality with few voids or gaps. The finished product is an engineered wood panel that shares many of the strength and performance characteristics of plywood. OSB is more uniform than plywood, so there are fewer soft spots, such as those that can occur in plywood. OSB can be made from narrower, faster growing trees than plywood.
Plywood is made from thin sheets of veneer (layers of wood that are peeled from a spinning log) that are cross-laminated and glued together with a hot press. Throughout the thickness of the panel, the grain of each layer is positioned perpendicular to the adjacent layer. The finished product is made from an odd number of layers so that a balance is maintained around its central access. Since it is made from whole layers of logs rather than small strands, plywood has a more consistent and less rough appearance than OSB. Plywood weighs less than OSB. One 23/32-inch 4×8-foot plywood piece weighs approximately 67 pounds, while a piece of OSB of the same dimensions weighs approximately 78 pounds.
While both products are made from different materials, and some builders strongly prefer one or the other, OSB and plywood are both manufactured according to the same performance standard and which one used is really just personal preference.
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