There are similarities between plywood and OSB; essentially both are made by gluing and pressing wood together. The process involved in creating each product however, differs quite considerably. The manufacturing process of OSB involves cutting rectangular-shaped wood strands from logs and laying them in cross-oriented layers. This method makes use of extremely high pressure and heat to cure the resins and resulting in a solid-panel product with a very consistent quality.
OSB has no core voids or gaps that can result in the “soft spots” that are a risk for plywood. One of benefit of this type of engineering and production process is that OSB can be made into larger panels than plywood. As well as this, OSB is manufactured from smaller diameter trees and so from a sustainability aspect it does have a slight edge.
Plywood is made from thin sheets of veneer which are peeled from large logs using a lathe. The veneers are then cross-laminated and glued together using a hot press. Each layer is perpendicular to the underlying one. This means that plywood panels are lighter than OSB and may swell less when exposed to moisture, especially at the edges.
OSB and plywood products share many of the same strength and performance characteristics but in recent years OSB in particular has greatly risen in demand. Its strong market position is expected to only continue.
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