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Why OSB (Oriented Strand Board) Continues to Outpace Plywood




Are you looking for the reasons why OSB is leaving behind Plywood for construction purposes? We all know that Plywood is one of the best materials to be used for indoor construction purposes, personal projects, facing veneers of a different material, making furniture more resistant to damage and moisture, and so on.

But why is the case that Plywood for construction has left behind in the race? As it turns out, the OSB or Oriented Strand Board is defeating the benefits and conveniences of Plywood when we compare these two with one another.

In this article, we shall analyze why OSB takes the cake when we consider the quality and benefits of these two materials, what OSB we can use, and some general information about Oriented Strand Board.

What is OSB?

OSB or Oriented Strand Board refers to an engineered wood similar to particleboard. Oriented Strand Board is manufactured using various kinds of waterproof and heat-cured adhesives and then compressing the layers of rectangular-shaped wood strands in a specific direction. 

Armin Elmendorf invented the Oriented Strand Board in California in 1963. OSB differs in its texture from other boards due to its rough and variegated (multi-colored) surface. The individual strips are around 2.5 cm x 15 cm, which lay unevenly across each other.

OSB’s performance and nature are in many ways similar to Plywood; however, as we will see, there are many aspects where OSB performs better than plywood products. The nature of Oriented strand Boards is very versatile and accounts for its variety of uses.

How is an Oriented Strand Board Made?

OSB is the orientation of compressed layers. It differs from other wood-scrap products due to this quality. The wood layers are placed strategically and not randomly, like different kinds of wood.

They produce the oriented strand board in a variety of types and thicknesses. The OSB board is a combined form of wood and adhesives that make up for a reliable and dimensionally stable panel. The panels can resist deflection, moisture, core voids, knotholes, warping, delamination, and distortion in their shape.

Here are the step-by-step processes that are involved with the making of an OSB wood:

1. Harvesting

What separates OSB from other kinds of woods is that it produces from small-diameter logs extracted from fast-growing species of trees depending on the plant’s geography. The plant species may include Aspen trees, Poplar trees, black poplar, or southern yellow pines.

After extracting the logs from a particular plant species, they stack them on top of each other. In the winter seasons or cold areas, they keep placed in large ponds heated by wood burners. These ponds heated by wood burners wash, unfreeze, and soften the logs.

2. Breaking

The logs then debark, i.e., they remove the bark from the tree trunk. The logs are then sliced and diced by the stranders; The pieces are of an appropriate 3 to 6 inches length, 1-inch breadth, and a 0.003-inch thickness.

3. Stranding Under Pressure

They then pass the strands through dryers of temperatures around 1,500 F when the process starts and around 200 F when it comes to completion. The strands then blend with a mixture of resins and waxes.

After adding this mix, they layer strands into 3 to 8 inch deep mats on a continuous belt of 8 to 12-inch wide. Then the strands cut so they can fit into the plant’s press. In the press, these strands bake above 400 F. The pressure depends on the board thickness and is typically above 1,300 PSI.

4. Delivery

Finally, the strands come out of the press and then cut into size. They trim most of the wood panels to 4 feet by 8 feet. They use the remaining scrap from the wood as fuel. Boards are modified, such as the radiant-barrier modification or a tongue-and-groove cut.

They check the bundles of wood after receiving these modifications for their quality. The bundles that pass this check load up for delivery.

Uses Of OSB

The uses of OSB board are many. Here is the following list of utilizes for OS:

1. The material used in OSB has specific mechanical properties that make it appropriate for load-bearing applications in construction. Because of its mechanical nature, it is becoming increasingly more popular than Plywood for construction.

2. OSB uses for: 

  • wall and roof sheathing;
  • flooring;
  • roof decking;
  • sub-flooring;
  • sheathing of ceilings or decks;
  • structural insulated panels;
  • industrial containers;
  • mezzanine decks;
  • exterior wall applications.

3. OSB panels are available with a radiant-barrier layer modification that laminates to one side. These panels provide an easier installation and contribute towards the energy performance of the building envelope.

4. Due to its mechanical nature, OSB panels are frequently used in structures that require weight-bearing properties.

5. Besides these uses, OSB is also perfect for furniture production.

Oriented Strand Board vs. Plywood: Why OSB Is More Popular?

The success story of the OSB board traced back to the 1980s. During that time, OSB material production went from 750 million square feet to an astounding amount of 7.5 billion square feet.

By 2000, OSB’s supply and demand were rivals of wholesale plywood supply by wholesale plywood suppliers and plywood dealers. Now, the market share of OSB is estimated to be around 75%. These numbers indicate an enormous increase.

Now let us analyze the reasons why OSB is leaving behind Plywood for construction purposes. This observation is vital for potential plywood buyers as they should inform themselves about the wooden materials before contacting a wholesale plywood supplier.

1. OSB is More Versatile

Plywood used to consider to be versatile by plywood buyers. However, when it comes to versatility, OSB defeats Plywood. OSB can be engineered for different climates and different projects, depending on the need of the buyer.

Fire block OSB formulates for particular purposes. For instance, a layer of fire-resistant material can orient along with OSB in the Mill. This unique OSB material use for making wood that utilizes sheathing.

Engineers can use this product to make fire-code compliant wall assemblies to reduce the wall’s dead load and thickness.

2. OSB Provides More Consistency

Plywood is known for its many veneers that do consistently layered on top of each other. However, OSB can do it better than Plywood. OSB does have layered with 50 strands of wood that will compress into the same essential consistency and thickness.

3. Oriented Strand Board Is Cheaper

Another great thing about OSB is the fact that it is very much cheaper compared to Plywood. It does estimate that OSB costs $700 less than Plywood. Due to this reason, buyers have begun to prefer OSB over Plywood.

4. OSB Panels Are Longer

OSB boards manufacture in factories and mills up to around 24 feet. On the other hand, Plywood does extract from trees that aren’t that long and hence amount to short panels having a size of about 8 to 10 feet.

For interested buyers, short sized OSB panels are also available for sheathing, ranging from 9 to 10 feet.

5. OSB Is Stronger Than Plywood

Since OSB is thicker than Plywood, it has more strength than plywood panels, and due to this quality, it utilizes load-bearing applications in construction. When it comes to structures that require superior strength and weight-bearing materials, OSB is the best option.

6. OSB Is Better for The Environment

Another reason why plywood wholesalers have left behind is due to their manufacturing needs. To make plywood, they cut large and old trees down. These trees take a long time to grow to their original size.

On the other hand, OSB does not require manufacturers to cut down big trees, as discussed above. OSB produces from small-diameter and fast-growing trees that are easier to farm and reproduce. This fact sets OSB apart from Plywood for a particular reason, climate. 

Manufacture of OSB over Plywood is a healthier choice for the climate and is why manufacturers and suppliers turn towards orientated strand boards.

The Grades Of OSB

In terms of mechanical performance and resistance to moisture, five grades of OSB are available.

  • OSB/0 – with no formaldehyde
  • OSB/1 – General-purpose boards and boards for interior fitments (including furniture) that use for dry conditions
  • OSB/2 – Load-bearing boards that use for dry conditions
  • OSB/3 – Load-bearing boards that use for humid conditions
  • OSB/4 – Heavy-duty and load-bearing boards that use for humid conditions

The Takeaways:

OSB is a material that makes it utterly impossible for wholesale plywood distributors to compete with it. It brings versatility to your projects and is always a better choice if you need to go for the uses mentioned above.

Besides its sales in North America, the sales of Oriented Strand Board have experienced a growth in other countries. For instance, Canada in 2005 saw the production of OSB increasing to 113 hundred thousand square feet, out of which 94 hundred thousand square feet had exported to the USA. 

Just like all other kinds of wooden materials, OSB has its shortcomings. It has raised the question that OSB has many health and safety risks due to its potential to emit harmful volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and urea-formaldehyde. 

Due to this reason, it suggests that materials make from OSB should not be used for internal purposes. However, many new and advanced tech OSB panels on the market do not use these toxic products and are safer to utilize in homes’ interior design.

If you are looking for a high-quality OSB, look no further than Plywood Logistics. As a reputable plywood supplier, it provides premium plywood for construction all over the USA. By buying plywood directly from Plywood Logistics, you can cut the price of the agent’s commission. Click on to learn more about oriented strand board, CDX and other materials for construction!


Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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