Definition of OSB

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Home Improvement

Oriented strand board.

If you’re in need of wood for your DIY project, you may have heard of OSB. But what is it? OSB stands for oriented strand board, a type of wood-scrap product created in the late 1970s. Unlike other wood-scrap products, OSB uses long strips of wood that are strategically placed instead of randomly placed. Manufacturers engineer OSB to match a performance-rated scale, ensuring it is strong, uniform, multifunctional, and workable. OSB is made from the wood of trees that grow quickly and sustainably and involves cutting logs into strands that are dried, organized, and treated with wax and binders before being pressurized at a high temperature to form panels. OSB is often compared to plywood, with both being strong, durable, and long-lasting, but OSB is less expensive and resists humidity better than plywood.

OSB vs. Plywood

When it comes to construction purposes, you may be more familiar with plywood. However, OSB competes with plywood in the marketplace and is often less expensive. The proper grade must be selected for both OSB and plywood to ensure waterproofing capabilities, but it should be noted that cutting an OSB panel will disable its waterproofing capabilities. In terms of supply, OSB manufacturers create almost double of what plywood manufacturers create. Overall, OSB and plywood are both strong and durable, but OSB may be a better choice for some projects due to its lower cost and resistance to humidity.

Eco-Friendly Considerations

If you’re interested in the environmental advantages of OSB and plywood, it’s worth noting that traditionally, plywood is sealed with a binder containing formaldehyde, while OSB can be sealed with either a formaldehyde-based or a non-formaldehyde-emitting binder [source: Building Green].

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  • Ask The Builder. “Plywood and OSB.” (Accessed 12/17/08)
  • Building Green. “Green Product Sub-category: Sheathing (including Plywood and OSB).” (Accessed 12/17/08)
  • OSB Guide. “About OSB.” (Accessed 12/17/08)
  • University of Massachusetts. “Choosing Between Oriented Strandboard and Plywood.” (Accessed 12/17/08)


1. What does OSB stand for?

OSB stands for oriented strand board. It is a type of engineered wood made from strands of wood that are oriented in specific directions and then compressed and bonded together with resin.

2. What are the advantages of using OSB?

OSB is a cost-effective alternative to plywood and is known for its strength and durability. It is also resistant to moisture and can be used in a variety of applications, including roofing, flooring, and walls. Additionally, OSB is made from sustainable and renewable resources, making it an eco-friendly choice.

3. How is OSB made?

OSB is made by taking strands of wood and arranging them in specific orientations. The strands are then coated with resin and pressed together under high pressure and heat. This process creates a strong and durable board that is suitable for a variety of construction and building applications.

4. Is OSB stronger than plywood?

OSB is generally considered to be stronger than plywood due to its construction and orientation of the wood strands. Additionally, OSB is made from smaller pieces of wood that are bonded together, which can make it more resistant to warping and splitting than plywood.

5. What is the difference between OSB and plywood?

The main difference between OSB and plywood is the way the wood is arranged and bonded together. OSB is made from strands of wood that are arranged in specific orientations, while plywood is made from thin sheets of wood that are glued together with the grain running in alternating directions. Additionally, OSB is typically less expensive than plywood and can be used in a wider range of applications.

6. How should OSB be stored?

OSB should be stored in a dry, flat area that is protected from moisture and direct sunlight. It should be stacked on level ground and supported with blocking to prevent sagging or bending. Additionally, OSB should be covered with a tarp or other protective covering to prevent damage from moisture or other environmental factors.

7. Can OSB be used for exterior applications?

Yes, OSB can be used for exterior applications such as roofing and siding. However, it is important to choose the appropriate grade and thickness of OSB for the specific application and to ensure that it is properly sealed and protected from moisture.

8. Is OSB safe for use in homes?

Yes, OSB is safe for use in homes. It meets all industry standards for safety and durability and is commonly used in residential construction for flooring, walls, and roofs. Additionally, OSB is made from sustainable and renewable resources, making it an eco-friendly choice.

9. How long does OSB last?

The lifespan of OSB depends on several factors, including the environment in which it is used, the quality of the board, and the specific application. In general, OSB is considered to have a lifespan of 20-30 years when used in construction applications.

10. Can OSB be recycled?

Yes, OSB can be recycled and used in a variety of applications, including landscaping and animal bedding. However, it is important to properly dispose of any OSB that may contain adhesives or other chemicals that could be harmful to the environment.

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