We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is OSB Sheathing?

By J.T. Gale
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Used for sub floors, exterior walls, and roof decking, OSB sheathing is a structurally-engineered board that is made up of compressed wood strands. These strands of wood are arranged in layers that are bonded together with resin, which helps produce a strong product. OSB, or oriented strand board, is unlike traditional plywood in that it has no laps, gaps, knots or voids. In most applications, this sheathing is dimensionally stronger and stiffer than comparable dimensional plywood boards. Many builders gravitate toward it not only for the increased strength of the finished product, but for the cost effectiveness as well. Usually, the price difference between OSB and plywood is significant enough to warrant common usage.

While custom boards can be requested from a laminate mill, most OSB boards have some standard features. Finished ones are smooth and often have pre-marked nail lines to make installation easier. Boards are 0.25 inch (about 6.35 mm) thick to 0.75 inch (about 1.9 cm) thick and usually don't cup as easily as plywood.

Another advantage of OSB sheathing can be found in the way it's produced. Most manufacturers use wood from small, fast-growing trees, which translates to a shorter growing time. Some trees that are used for this material include aspen, poplar, southern yellow pine, and mixed hardwoods.

There are no special handling instructions for OSB sheathing, other than protecting it from the weather. Unsealed edges can swell if left unprotected, taking on water and warping the boards. Edges can expand up to 15%, especially if they are cut edges. On the other hand, plywood expands more evenly and shrinks more rapidly than OSB. For this reason, some builders will use plywood on the outside, exposed edges of roof decking and then use OSB boards for the rest.

When installing the sheathing, experts recommend leaving a 0.125 inch (about 3 mm) gap between boards and around window and door frames to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction. Edge clips can be used between boards to gain the necessary amount of spacing. Panels can be installed with nails, staples or screws, although it is best not to use drywall screws as they are not considered to be strong enough. Panels usually are installed with the textured side out or in, with their long direction horizontally across the beams or studs.

Local building codes should always be considered when engaging in construction activities, and this is certainly the case when using OSB. Some regions require different thicknesses to be used for different applications. For example, a board of a particular thickness might be required for sub floors, while wall sheathing may be raised with a thinner board. Some regions are also restricted from using staples as OSB fasteners.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon348745 — On Sep 19, 2013

@anon154177: Think it through. 7/16 of an inch can also be expressed as 14/32 of an inch. That's 1/32 of an inch thinner than your 15/32" thick plywood.

So, if the length and width is the same (let's say 4 by 8 foot sheet), and assuming that 7/16 OSB is the same strength as plywood that's all of 1/32 of an inch thicker, you'd save roughly $5.50 per sheet! That's a significant savings.

By anon154177 — On Feb 20, 2011

how is the osb sheathing cheaper than regular plywood? I'm looking at 7/16 osb for 7.47 and 15/32 plywood for 12.97. what am i missing here?

By ysmina — On Jan 27, 2011

@anon92678-- It comes in a standard size of 4 feet by 8 feet. OSB sheathing thickness can range from 3/8 inches to 1 and 1/8 inches. 9 feet and 10 feet long osb sheathing is made but you might have to request it from the manufacturer beforehand as it might not be readily available on hand.

By anon92678 — On Jun 29, 2010

does osb come in 10 ft length? what are the standard dimensions of an osb?

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.