Plywood vs OSB Subfloor Which Is Better

No matter whether you’re building a new house or renovating an old one, there are plenty of decisions to make. If you’re a construction professional, it may be helpful to take the burden off your clients’ shoulders by sharing your point of view and offering recommendations. One area in which you could provide support is the decision surrounding the type of subfloor to install.

Plywood and OSB subflooring each have their merits, and there are few differences between the two, making it harder for homeowners to settle on one. If you’re hoping to lend a hand in the decision, you’ll need to be aware of the pros and cons of using each material and which is best suited for your clients’ flooring.

Here, we outline the key differences between plywood and OSB so you can offer advice to your clients with confidence.

What Is Plywood?

Plywood is made up of multiple sheets of wood veneer glued together at alternating right angles. When the sheets are viewed from the side, the layers can be clearly seen, however when viewed from above plywood appears to be solid wood.

What Is OSB?

OSB, also known as oriented strand board, consists of numerous flat wood chips glued together in a solid sheet. The chips can be seen clearly when OSB is viewed from above, meaning OSB cannot be disguised as a solid piece of wood.

The Main Differences Between Plywood And OSB

Plywood is slightly better at absorbing water than OSB. It tends to dry out faster and is more resilient towards permanent swelling. In contrast, OSB is a little more resistant to water absorption and tends to hold moisture for longer when it gets wet. Due to its untreated edges, OSB is more likely to be damaged by leaks or flooding.

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When it comes to flooring, both materials have the ability to last as long as the house itself, provided they are installed correctly. However, OSB is a little more flexible than plywood, so it’s not the best option for under-heavy floorings such as stone tile or ceramic. Plywood tends to be more expensive to buy than OSB, however, its durability and resilience make it a worthwhile investment.

How To Install Them?

No matter whether you opt for plywood or OSB, correct installation is key to getting the most out of your subflooring. The same method is used to install both materials. The sheets are placed over the floor joists and pushed against one another with the long seams positioned over the joists. The end joints mustn’t line up, so they should be offset from row to row.

Nails and screws are then used to fasten the sheets to the joists. The nails/screws should be positioned six inches apart and then the sheets should be secured to the joists across the “field” of each sheet with additional nails/screws across every eight inches.

Using a nail gun will make the installation process much faster. Nail gun suppliers such as RS Components will be able to recommend the best one for your project. A dot of construction adhesive may also be placed across each joist prior to laying the sheets of the subfloor.

Featured image: Pixabay (Lantaikayu-biz).