Plywood vs. OSB
New-generation panels mean decade-old notions are no way to choose sheathing. Here's what you need to know.
Synopsis: Either plywood or oriented-strand board (OSB) provides the structural skin on most houses today. Used for floors, walls, and roofs, these sheathing products are ubiquitous, but are they created equal? This article details exactly how the two products compare in strength, water resistance, and even environmental impact. A sidebar offers tips for storing and installing these products to avoid problems.
Like the old latex- versus oil-paint debate, people hold strong feelings about oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood. Because there seems to be some truth on each side of the argument, it’s not easy to figure out which type of structural panel you should be using.
From a cost-saving perspective, the appeal of OSB is easy to understand. Sheathing a 2500-sq.-ft. house with OSB can save about $900 compared to the cost of plywood sheathing. OSB advocates also point out that these panels are more uniform than plywood…