Plywood Vs Osb For Flooring

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What’s the difference between Plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB)? This is a question that confuses homeowners all over the world. Plywood has been around much longer than OSB and is often considered to be of higher quality because it's more resistant to moisture penetration/warpage.

On the other hand, plywood can be pricey and may not always provide the aesthetic you were hoping for in your home. In this article, we'll look at how these two types of sheathing compare and how to determine which is best for your project. Let's get right into it.

What are plywood and OSB?

Plywood and OSB are types of sheathing, which is the material that is attached to the outside frame of a home. This exterior layer acts as protection for your wall system against adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, strong winds, etc.

As we mentioned above, plywood has been around longer than OSB. However, both plywood and OSB are made from wood fibers that have been glued together at high-pressure to form planks. Both of these materials are extremely durable – they can even be submerged underwater without sustaining damage. Unfortunately, this durability also makes it more difficult for moisture to dissipate through either type of sheathing. If moisture does not exit properly through your siding/sheathing, it may lead to serious structural problems, like rot and mold.

Plywood vs. OSB: Which Is Better? | Family Handyman

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What are the different types of plywood?

Several different types of plywood can be used for exterior cladding. The most popular one (and the type that is generally considered to be of higher quality) is known as ‘Grade A' or ‘Exterior Plywood.' This variety is made from birch or poplar trees in large sawmills. These sheets have four smooth edges with square corners, which makes them easier for installers to use when building homes. There are also other varieties available, such as CDX plywood, fire-retardant plywood, wear-resistant birch plywood, etc.

While some people believe that plywood is better than OSB, there are many others who argue that this isn't the case. Some say that plywood is more attractive, while others maintain that OSB provides a better appearance when painted. The truth of the matter is both types have their strengths and weaknesses.

What are the differences between these two?

Let’s compare these two types of sheathing against each other in various factors.

Plywood vs OSB – durability

The biggest difference between plywood and OSB in terms of durability is moisture resistance. Plywood absorbs less water, which makes it much more resistant to damage caused by excessive moisture in your home's exterior wall system. OSB, on the other hand, can absorb large amounts of water without sustaining damage or warping/twisting. Unfortunately, because plywood is less absorbent, it has a harder time dissipating the water that does get into your wall system. This can cause significant structural damage to your home if left untreated.

Plywood vs OSB – pricing

Price is another major difference between plywood and OSB. Because it's made from more premium materials, plywood is generally more expensive than OSB. For example, the average cost of exterior grade OSB 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ board is $11.00 per sheet, while the comparable price of birch plywood 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ sheet is nearly double at $20.00 per sheet.

Plywood vs OSB – strength

Plywood is slightly stronger than OSB. The average modulus of rupture for exterior grade plywood is approximately 765 psi, while that for birch OSB is only 678 psi. The only problem with this increased strength is that it can be extremely difficult to cut through. While a circular saw or hand saw should do the trick, it may cause significant damage to the surrounding wall if done incorrectly. This added strength does have its benefits, though, as plywood is less susceptible to wind damage and other types of weathering.

Plywood vs OSB – appearance

When painted, OSB provides a much smoother finished look when compared to plywood. OSB has a more consistent thickness and smooth surface, which creates a better canvas for paint. The other issue with plywood is that because it's made from thin sheets of wood, it can easily warp and twist. Since these planks are exposed to environmental conditions 24 hours a day, this can cause major damage to your home if left untreated.

All in all, both materials have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. When you take into account price, durability, strength, etc., both materials can work under the right conditions so it’s important to understand what’s needed from this material before moving forward.

Basement Subfloor Options

Knowing your options can help you make the best decision for your project, whether it is a home addition, including a new room or bathroom, or remodeling part of your existing living space. The bottom line is that when it comes to choosing between plywood and OSB vs Wonderboard, there are several factors to consider before making a final decision.

The various basement subfloor options that you can choose from are as follows:

Subfloor options: OSB vs Particle board - New Floors Inc

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Proper Installation Matters

Probably the most important thing to consider when choosing between OSB vs plywood is proper installation. Even though both boards have been designed specifically for use as a subfloor material, you must still follow the manufacturer's guidelines for proper installation.

How To Fix Squeaky Floors

Your flooring plays a major role in determining the overall look and feel of your home.

If you have squeaky floors, you not only have to put up with the annoying sound, but you may also be putting your home's structural integrity at risk. This is why it's so important to identify and fix these floors as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there are many different causes of squeaky floors, such as: 

  • Failing HVAC ductwork
  • Poorly built subfloor material
  • A damaged floor joist 
  • Not enough insulation
  • Insufficient drywall installation
  •  Undersized trim or molding
  •  Improper window operation
  • And more

Fixing a squeaky floor is usually a pretty easy process, especially if you have the right tools for the job. The first step is to locate the squeak or creaking sound using a simple hand tool called a “flare nut wrench.” This will help you narrow down the specific area of your home that needs attention.

Proper subfloor installation can also help prevent squeaky floors. When it comes to choosing between plywood vs OSB as basement flooring options, many factors need to be considered on a case-by-case basis before making a final decision.

Final thoughts on plywood vs OSB for flooring

In conclusion, there are many pros and cons to consider before making a final decision on which type of subfloor material to use for your basement.

If installed correctly, any one of these materials can be used with great success in all types of basement flooring projects. So don't hesitate to consider all aspects and potentially even try them out on a small scale to see which works best in your home.

Ryan Copley

Ryan Copley

Having spent years participating in bathroom, kitchen, and home renovations, Ryan uses this experience to write informative blog posts on a wide variety of home renovation and kitchen topics.

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