Is OSB the Right Choice for Roofing?

Do you have a roofing job coming up and are curious about what your options are for material? Using conventional roofing equipment, both OSB and plywood panels can be cut and installed on a roof. They have similar structural characteristics and can be used interchangeably. Let’s break down the pros and cons of both OSB and plywood below. 

When searching for the right roofing material, OSB can deliver the right quality for your project. Learn the pros and cons!

What Is OSB?

Oriented strand board, also known as OSB, is a wood product that is commonly used for sheathing and floor work. It’s grown in popularity as a generally more affordable plywood alternative for projects such as roof and wall sheathing as well as subflooring and underlayment. This building material consists of wood strands that are tightly pressed together and combined with resin or glue under high heat. 

What Is Plywood?

Similar to OSB, plywood consists of wood that is tightly pressed together and fused with an adhesive. However, unlike OSB, plywood is created using sheets of wood instead of strands. Layers of wood are pressed together to form a strong, single piece of material. The layers are combined so that the wood grain of each layer is positioned at a right angle against the board next to it. This design gives plywood its characteristic sturdiness while also offering some flexibility. 

OSB vs. Plywood 

In terms of OSB vs. plywood, they each have several unique advantages. For one thing, as previously mentioned, OSB is typically more affordable than plywood. According to the Engineered Wood Association (APA), both OSB and plywood fall under the Structural I (STRUC I) subcategory of APA-rated sheathing. This places them in close enough proximity to each other in terms of strength and durability that they share the same subcategory. While Plywood comes in several different finishes (unlike OSB) for a wider variety of projects, it only comes in one length. 

Our TuffStrand/Tuffstrand XL OSB is also available in larger sheets compared to plywood ( 8’, 9’, 10’, and 12’ sheets for OSB vs 8-foot sheets of plywood), which can make it the better choice for projects that may require longer panels. OSB is typically the choice for new construction, while plywood is typically the first choice for repair and remodel projects. Plywood also comes in an aftermarket treated version that resists rot and has built-in pesticides. 

Which Is More Resistant to Water? 

Although OSB is structurally an exposure one resiliency, the edges are more likely to swell than plywood. Exposure one is meant for light to normal construction delays.  It takes longer than plywood to dry once it does get wet. While OSB does not react as well to moisture as plywood does, it is less expensive and delivers more consistent thickness and flatness. It also can be purchased in several different length options to save time and money on installation.

What Are the Different Types of OSB? 

Radiant barrier OSB panels, such as our Eclipse™ OSB Radiant Barrier, provide unique advantages as roof sheathing materials. Eclipse™ OSB Radiant Barrier has been shown to reduce attic temperatures by as much as 30°F. That’s because it’s specifically designed to reflect the sun’s heat, keeping attics and homes cooler while reducing energy costs. Eclipse is the natural choice for a more efficient roofing system since, when built correctly with other efficient construction materials, the combination produces a more cost-effective and energy-efficient build as opposed to standard OSB with spray-foam installation. If you’re looking to help your buyers save on energy costs and put more money back in your own pocket, RoyOMartin has a rebate program that might be the right fit for you.

Additionally, RoyOMartin offers our TuffTier™, which is a T&G OSB panel that makes installation easier and is used for subfloors and roofing applications among other applications. The panels have a seal on all four edges for added moisture resistance and dimensional stability. In addition to these features, TuffTier™ also boasts a unique, self-spacing, APA-approved T&G profile to allow for easier installation. 

Another new roofing OSB product that we have recently brought to the market is a 7/16″ STRUC 1 rated panel designed to help prevent buckling in marine layer areas. This product also carries the same span rating and meets the same testing requirements as the typical ½” OSB roofing panel. Its design is appropriate for snow loads, making it a lighter and more economical choice in regions that take on snow in the winter. 

RoyOMartin offers several different thicknesses and lengths for your OSB application. With the ever-changing building codes, it’s important to always check your local codes to determine which OSB roofing panel is the right one for your job. 

You can see all of RoyOMartin’s OSB options here.

A Goal of Sustainability

From air purification and water filtration to supporting wildlife populations and supplying us with the wood materials we need, our forests are essential to industries and communities worldwide. But, unsustainable harvesting practices destroy over 12 million hectares of forest each year. RoyOMartin is not only dedicated to providing our customers with high-quality wood products. We also strive to preserve the ecosystems we harvest from. 

Our company is proud to carry Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified materials. We have joined in the mission to sustain our forests with responsible harvesting. And, we source our timber from areas of sufficient geographical resolution and replace materials that fall outside the realm of responsible sourcing. We follow the FSC’s standards of 

  • Zero deforestation 
  • Safeguarding ancient and endangered forests 
  • Fair wage and work environment 
  • Biodiversity preservation 
  • And community rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples 

Learn more about all of the wood products RoyOMartin has to offer and our mission of sustainable forestry and harvesting here. 

Choose RoyOMartin Roofing OSB Panels for Your Next Project 

As a nationwide leader in the timber industry, RoyOMartin is your source for dependable wood products. We would love to discuss the details of your project to determine the right products for your needs. If you have any questions about OSB, plywood, or any of our other products, call 1-800-299-5174 or contact us online. Build better with RoyOMartin.