The pros and cons of manufactured wood products

Posted by Rumin Mann
September 30th, 2010

plywoodI’m a big fan of manufactured wood products such as engineered hardwood flooring, polylaminated beams, LVLs. They are strong and straight and available in lengths and dimensions that you just can’t find in natural wood. They can be used for structure, for finishing and for sheathing. They are environmentally appropriate — perfect for sustainable building.

But not all engineered wood is the same.

Plywood is an engineered wood. It’s made of layers of wood, cross-laminated for additional strength (each layer is laid at right angles to another), and fused with glues and pressure. It’s available in different thicknesses, dressed one side or both, tongue and groove — and it provides great tensile strength, so it’s perfect for sheathing.

OSB (Oriented Strand Board) is not the same thing as plywood. OSB is made from wood strands (they look like wood chips—one of the other names for OSB is chipboard) that are arranged in alternating layers and held together with adhesives, heat and pressure.

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