From its outer skin to its structural framing system, a building is made out of many layers. Just like a human body, many of those layers – which tend to be the most crucial, functional components – remain unseen by the public, covered with aesthetic features. Among all the hidden elements, all buildings include sheathing, the outer casing that construction crews place to serve several key purposes: protect the floor, walls, roofs and ceilings, fortify the structure against internal and external forces, and cover the entire framework, giving the building a solid shape.
Wood is the most common material for sheathing, with Oriented strand board (OSB) panels usually being the top choice. Why? Made by compressing and gluing cross-oriented strands of wood together with heat-cured adhesives, OSB boards are lightweight, flexible, strong, versatile and fully recyclable. They also stand out by resisting deflection, warping and distortion, apart from offering some thermal and acoustic insulation. However, besides their good performance and mechanical properties, OSB is especially known for being cheaper than other alternatives, drastically saving both costs and time. In fact, this structural panel can be $3 to $5 less expensive than plywood, which explains why it is often considered its low-cost substitute.