Mike Buick: demystifying OSB.

OSB 'still misunderstood in the merchant's yards'

Published:  28 September, 2009

COWIE: Oriented Strand Board is one of the staples of the construction industry, yet its uses are often misunderstood, said Norbord brand manager, Mike Buick.

"One of the most common errors is to confuse OSB with plywood. Both materials are composite products made from thin layers of wood bonded together with adhesive, but there the similarities end.

"Highly versatile and strong, SterlingOSB is a timber product which is made from layering strands of wood in specific orientations and then bonding the layers with a resin.

Plywood is made from alternate layers of veneer, each arranged with the grain at right angles to that of its neighbours. The high quality plywood can be very strong, it is very expensive compared with OSB.

"Imports of cheap low-grade plywood can look attractive to the uninformed buyer but it is often inferior in quality to home-grown OSB and, moreover, is often from uncertified, unsustainable sources.

"Buyers need to know the difference, and this is where the builders' merchant's yard staff can help.

"Most jobbing builders will drive straight up to the timber yard, select what they need and only then go into the sales office to pay. Their buying decision will have been made with the help and advice of the yard staff.

"While most builders' merchants provide excellent product training for their sales personnel, the yard staff seldom have the opportunity to acquire the same product knowledge," Mr Buick explained.

"The yard staff are the unsung heroes of the merchant sector," Mr Buick continued. "They are eager to help customers and they're in a good position to give product advice. If they understand the benefits of OSB over cheap plywood, the customer will benefit, too.

"Made from thinnings harvested from FSC-certified British forests, OSB it is a truly sustainable product which is produced and consumed entirely within the UK and does not have to be shipped half-way round the world to reach the end-user."

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