We have been talking about Building Codes and today it might be a good idea to talk about structural wood panels. Granted none of us know these panels as "structural wood panels." To all of us they are either Plywood or OSB.
Throughout the construction industry the name OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and Plywood are used interchangeably. Both are manufactured wood products and both are equal in strength despite their unique differences. OSB is a product where thin wood strands are combined with various glues and each layer of strands run perpendicular to the other to increase it strength. Plywood is manufactured by gluing sheets of veneer that are perpendicular to each other and layered.
OSB has become the building material of choice throughout North America and it is easy to see why OSB will remain the building material of the future. There are several outstanding advantages:
- OSB is far greener than plywood. It is estimated that there is a 40% increase in the amount of OSB that can come from one tree compared to plywood. It seems only logical that consuming virtually all of the tree into useful product is environmentally sound.
- The Green effect is easy to see when we realize that OSB can be made from small trees rather than Old Growth forests that are rapidly vanishing.
- OSB can easily be made into much larger panels limited only by the size of manufacturing machinery. Plywood is limited to the size of veneer sheets that come only from the trunk of the tree.
- OSB cost far less and has greater shear strength; the cost factor is significant without sacrificing quality.
- Currently 80% of construction needs are being met with OSB
Plywood does have advantages over OSB:
- Plywood can be made so that the exposed veneer sheet is smooth and paints better.
- When exposed to moisture plywood and OSB behave the same however, Plywood tends to dry faster
- Plywood is superior when building furniture or where it will stay exposed as compared to a sub floor
Despite individual preferences it is obvious that OSB has become the overwhelming choice of builders. Vermont Modular Homes uses OSB products on our sheathing, sub floors, and roof panels.