Plywood Vs OSB sheathing

Answered by Brett ~ March 8, 2012 ~ No Comments

Should I use plywood or OSB board for residential exterior sheathing. Also what thickness sheet should I use if the wall studs are 24" apart and the floor joists are 16" apart.Thank you.

Guy H. ~ Williamsport, PA

Brett Kulina

Guy, your question is a common one, and the easy answer is that both plywood and OSB are widely used for residential exterior sheathing. In essence, these two building materials are different, yet they are installed the same way when building a framed structure. Plywood has been manufactured for a longer period of time and is made by gluing 1/8-inch thick wood veneers together and then pressing them together under great weight to construct a rigid sheet. Most plywood sheathing is made from large diameter Douglas Fir logs, but there are many types and grades of plywood available. OSB, also known as oriented strand board, is manufactured by gluing together small wood chips and compressing them with specialized resins to form rigid sheets. The advantages of OSB are that it is less expensive than plywood and it can be manufactured from small diameter, fast growing trees.

Although you should check the building codes in your local area to determine what type and size of sheathing you should use for your project, many builders select 1/2-inch OSB for wall sheathing, 5/8-inch plywood for roof sheathing, and 3/4-inch T&G sheathing for sub-flooring. Whichever product you choose, just make sure that you follow all of the manufacturer's installation instructions and guidelines.

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