Oriented Strand Board, or OSB Board as it is often known, is a form of engineered wood which can be recognised by the characteristic wood strands which are visible on the board’s surface.
Since its invention in 1963, OSB has gained in popularity, overtaking plywood to the point that it now commands 66% of the market share in structural panels. The board has a wide range of uses, the most common being furniture production, roof decking, sheathing in walls and flooring.
OSB is made from layers of shredded wood strips that are compressed and firmly bonded together using a mixture of moisture resistant resin adhesives and wax. The finished OSB panels have similar properties to plywood, and are equal to plywood in both durability and strength, in fact, building codes recognise both plywood and Oriented Strand Board under the same term of “wood structured panel”. When tested to failure, OSB has also proven to be very strong, outperforming milled wood panels.
Like all wood-based panels, there are no special tools required for cutting and installing OSB; it can simply be worked with standard woodworking tools.
OSB Board Vs Plywood.
While OSB and plywood panels are suitable for many of the same uses; there are some differences that you may wish to take into account when choosing the material for your project.
OSB board is cheaper than plywood for sale, a fact which has no doubt contributed to its growth in popularity over recent years. OSB is often the favourite choice for projects where budget is a consideration.
Plywood is approximately 10% stiffer than OSB and is, therefore, less likely to cause problems such as soft spongy floors, creaking floors and cracking of tiles when used as flooring.
OSB panels can be manufactured in a range of thicknesses and strengths, and can also be manufactured in longer length panels (16 foot, and possibly more) than plywood (usually only available up to 10 or 12 foot). This greater size can make OSB a preferable choice for projects where longer or wider panels are required.
While OSB is water resistant, it is not waterproof and is less able to breathe and release moisture than plywood. OSB is, however also available in a version for exterior wall applications with a protective layer laminated to one side. Although this option is more expensive than standard OSB, it provides added durability and performance.