31st Oct 2023 -

Choosing the right materials is paramount to ensuring structural integrity. One material that continues to gain traction is oriented strand board (OSB). Also known as a sterling board, it is a versatile sheet material that has become a staple due to its adaptability.

In this guide, we look into the benefits of incorporating OSB boards into your construction jobs. Understanding the OSB board benefits is crucial for making informed decisions for your project.

What is an OSB board?

Composed of small wood strands aligned and bonded together using adhesives, OSB boasts remarkable strength and durability. Its manufacturing process involves pressing and heating these strands, creating a panel that excels in load-bearing capacities.

An attractive alternative to plywood, OSB can be used for various construction projects, from residential homes to commercial structures. Its affordability, coupled with eco-friendly manufacturing practices, positions OSB as a sustainable and robust choice.

You can learn more about OSB boards from our detailed article. 

Advantages of OSB in construction

Discover the multitude of advantages that OSB sheet materials bring to construction jobs. From the consistent quality to large panel sizes and resistance against pests, dive into the array of benefits that make OSB a reliable sheet material.

1. Modern aesthetic

OSB's appearance adds a modern and industrial aesthetic to interior jobs. This provides designers with visually appealing and contemporary material to work with.

2. Paintability and finish

Finishing and painting OSB boards makes it possible to achieve the desired appearance. With this, designers can customise the look of the material for specific projects.

3. Excellent load-bearing capabilities

OSB panels exhibit impressive load-bearing capacities. As a result, it ensures structural integrity and reliability in various construction applications.

4. Sound insulation

OSB provides reasonable sound insulation. It makes the material a practical choice for areas where acoustic performance is an important consideration.

5. Resistant to termites and insects

As an engineered wood product, OSB is less attractive to termites and insects. This is a key advantage compared to traditional wood because it provides additional protection against pests.

6. Large panel sizes

OSB is often available in larger panel sizes compared to traditional plywood. It reduces the number of seams in a project and contributes to a smoother finish.

7. Less susceptible to warping

Overall, OSB boards tend to be less susceptible to warping than plywood. As a result,  they offer a more stable and reliable material for construction.

8. Exceptional strength and durability

OSB's engineered structure ensures remarkable strength and durability. This contributes to the overall longevity and stability of structures.

9. Prefabrication and modular construction

OSB's suitability for prefab and modular construction methods enhances efficiency in large-scale projects. It offers a practical solution for builders working to tight schedules. 

Common examples of OSB boards in construction

Layers of OSB board on top of one another against a slight grey background and sitting on top of the ground with dust shavings.

Below are some examples which highlight the adaptability of OSB sheets in construction. Each example showcases its role in enhancing structural performance and project efficiency.

  • Subflooring: Usually employed as subfloor material, tongue and groove OSB provides a sturdy foundation for finished floor materials like hardwood or laminate.
  • Wall and roof sheathing: Frequently used as sheathing in walls and roofs, OSB boards contribute to the structural integrity of buildings while offering a flat, even surface for further finish options.
  • Cabinetry and furniture: For interior jobs, OSB is utilised for crafting cabinets and furniture. It lends a modern and industrial aesthetic while maintaining durability.
  • Exterior trim and siding: OSB panels can be employed for exterior trim and siding. This offers a durable alternative to other materials such as solid wood.
  • Packaging and crating: Its durability makes it suitable for creating packaging materials and crates, ensuring the safe delivery of goods.
  • DIY projects: DIY enthusiasts often use OSB for various projects such as shelves, workbenches and temporary structures. 

Is OSB better than plywood for subflooring?

The choice between OSB vs plywood for subflooring often depends on requirements and preferences. Both materials have their strengths, but the decision will differ based on various factors. Here are some key points for you to consider.


OSB is generally more cost-effective than plywood. This cost difference can be significant, making OSB an attractive option when working to tight budgets and without compromising structural integrity.

Strength and durability

Both OSB and plywood offer comparable strength and durability. OSB is engineered by layering wood strands, while plywood is made by glueing together thin veneers. The manufacturing process for each one contributes to their overall strength.

Therefore, either material is suitable for subflooring in most residential and commercial spaces.

Moisture resistance

Plywood tends to have better moisture resistance than OSB. If the subfloor is at risk of exposure to moisture, plywood might be preferred. OSB can swell more than plywood when repeatedly exposed to moisture.

Ease of installation

Both OSB and plywood are relatively easy to install. They come in 2440mm x 1220mm sheets and can be cut to size. Also, the installation process for subflooring is similar between the two materials.


The availability of plywood or OSB sheets may vary depending on where you are in the UK. Local building practices and preferences can influence the popularity of one material over the other. Some regions may have a stronger tradition of using a specific sheet material. 

How to waterproof OSB board

While OSB is not recommended for prolonged outdoor use, you can still use OSB for some exterior uses. This includes some outdoor furniture and planters. In this step-by-step guide, we outline how to shield OSB from moisture to preserve its structural integrity. 

Step 1 - Select a waterproofing material

Be sure you choose a suitable high-quality waterproofing material. Options include liquid membrane sealers, polyurethane coatings, or speciality waterproofing paints.

Step 2 - Prepare the surface

Ensure the OSB board surface is clean and free of dust, debris, and any previous coatings. Sand the surface lightly to create a smooth, uniform substrate for waterproofing.

Step 3 - Fill gaps and seams

Use a wood filler or caulk to fill any gaps, seams, or joints in the OSB. This step is crucial to prevent water infiltration through vulnerable points.

Step 4 - Apply primer

Apply a wood primer to the OSB board surface. The wood primer helps the waterproofing material adhere better and improves the overall effectiveness. 

Step 5 - Apply waterproofing material

Using a brush or roller, apply the waterproofing material evenly over the full OSB surface. It is important to ensure complete coverage, especially focusing on edges and joints.

Step 6 - Allow drying time

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding drying time. This is essential to allow sufficient time for the waterproofing material to cure and create a protective barrier.

Step 7 - Extra coats

Depending on the product used, you may need to apply multiple coats for optimal waterproofing. Follow the recommended waiting time between coats.

Step 8 - Inspect and touch up

After the waterproofing material has dried completely, inspect the surface for any missed spots. For areas that may need additional attention, be sure to touch up as necessary.

Step 9 - Protect edges and corners

Pay extra attention to edges, corners, and any exposed cut edges of OSB sheets. These areas are more vulnerable to water penetration, so ensure they are well-protected.

Step 10 - Consider external protection

If the OSB board is part of an external structure, such as a roof or siding, consider additional external protection. This can include proper overhangs, flashing, and drainage systems to divert water away from the OSB.

Can you use insulation materials with OSB boards?

Multiple layers of OSB board stacked on top of one another against more higher OSB board layers sitting on top of a grey tiled floor.

Yes, OSB is often used in conjunction with insulation materials to create a well-insulated building envelope. OSB sheets serve as structural sheathing material, providing stability, while insulation materials contribute to thermal efficiency.

Common insulation materials include fibreglass batts, rigid foam boards, spray foam and mineral wool. Below are typical construction scenarios where insulation and OSB are used.

  • Wall construction: Insulation is installed between the framing studs. OSB panels are applied over the studs to create the exterior wall. This combination provides both structural integrity and thermal resistance.
  • Roof construction: You can install insulation between the roof rafters or trusses. OSB sheathing is applied over the insulation to form the roof deck. An insulated OSB board regulates temperature, preventing heat loss or gain through the roof.
  • Floor construction: Insulation is placed between floor joists, and OSB is used as the subfloor or underlayment. This assembly of an OSB floor contributes to energy efficiency and thermal comfort.

OSB vs chipboard: Which is best for loft flooring?

When it comes to loft flooring, OSB sheets present several benefits. One of its key strengths lies in its robustness and durability. It makes it a highly suitable choice for loft spaces where load-bearing capacity is paramount. Plus, OSB flooring tends to exhibit better resistance to moisture compared to chipboard.

Another notable attribute is the consistent thickness of OSB, offering a uniform and stable surface for loft flooring. However, it is important to note that the cost of OSB is often higher than chipboard. This is a key consideration to think about, particularly for projects with budget constraints.

Chipboard materials are a cost-effective alternative for loft flooring. Its affordability makes it an attractive option. Also, chipboard is widely available and comes in various thicknesses, offering flexibility to find the right fit for loft flooring projects.

Despite its cost advantages, chipboard does have some limitations. It is more sensitive to moisture than OSB, making it less suitable for environments where moisture exposure is important. Additionally, while the chipboard is relatively strong, it may not match the same load-bearing capacity as OSB. This is something to bear in mind if heavy items are stored in a loft space.

If safeguarding against moisture is a top concern, OSB loft boards emerge as the preferred option. However, chipboard may still be viable with adequate moisture protection measures. For those prioritising budget considerations, chipboard stands out as the more cost-effective choice.

Nonetheless, it is essential to ensure it meets the necessary load-bearing requirements. In situations where superior load-bearing capacity is paramount, OSB is the optimal selection. Exploring thick chipboard sheets can be considered if the cost of OSB is too high. 

Buy durable OSB sheets at Building Materials Nationwide

Transform your construction projects with the unparalleled strength of OSB sheet materials. We pride ourselves on delivering top-quality OSB boards that elevate the structural integrity of your builds. From subflooring to roofing, our OSB products offer a cost-effective solution without compromising durability. Explore the versatility and reliability of OSB materials.

Ready to streamline your procurement process? Unlock exclusive benefits by opening a trade accountwith us. We value our trade partners and offer tailored solutions to meet your bulk purchasing needs. Enjoy a personalised service from your trade account manager and experience a seamless ordering process.

Elevate your construction business and sign up for a Building Materials Nationwide trade account today. Have you got some questions before you get started? Contact us below or give us a call.

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