Densglass Sheathing vs. Plywood: Which to Choose?

Densglass Sheathing vs. Plywood: Which to Choose?

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If you are building a home, something you are going to need to consider is the type of sheathing that you are going to use. Sheathing is used as a surface that other materials can be attached to. For instance, it would be the layer directly attached to the frame of your home, to which the exterior wall is then attached.

When it comes to sheathing for houses, two popular options are densglass and plywood. The purpose of this article is to figure out what both of them are, what makes them similar, and what makes them different.

Densglass Sheathing and Plywood: The Basics

Before we start talking about similarities and differences between these two materials, let’s first figure out what they both actually are.

What Is Densglass Sheathing?

Densglass comes in the form of panels. In terms of shape and size, they often look a lot like plywood.

However, densglass is a very special material. It is made out of a combination of densified glass fibers with an acrylic binder, as well as a thin coating of aluminum that helps to reflect heat.

Technically speaking, this is a type of exterior gypsum sheet sheathing. It acts as a very firm surface that you can then use to attach cladding to walls and ceilings. It is used as sheathing for walls, ceilings, roofs, and can also be used for floor underlayment.

What Is Plywood?

Plywood, on the other hand, is a type of engineered wood. Plywood is made out of a variety of either softwood or hardwood veneers. These veneers, or long strips of wood, are laid side-by-side to form a sheet.

There are then various layers laid on top of each other in a perpendicular manner, typically using anywhere between three and seven layers. In other words, one layer of veneers faces left to right, the next front to back, and so on and so forth. This perpendicular veneer construction allows for a great deal of strength, flexibility, and screw holding capabilities. They are then glued and pressed together.

Plywood also comes in many different types, having many different functions. It can be used for a variety of sheathing applications,  underlayment, as well as for general construction purposes.

Similarities of Densglass Sheathing and Plywood

Now that we know what both densglass sheathing and plywood are, let’s figure out what makes them similar. As you are about to see, they don’t have much in common.

1. Some Shared Uses

When it comes to the applications, both plywood and densglass can both be used for similar purposes. For instance, both can be used for wall sheathing. Both may also be used as underlayment for bricks and masonry. They can also both be used for roof and floor underlayment. That being said, plywood has some additional applications that densglass does not.

2. Sizes of Sheets Can Be Similar

Although it’s nothing huge, both of these building materials can also come in sheets of similar sizes.

Differences Between Densglass Sheathing and Plywood

Let’s now determine what makes densglass sheathing and plywood different. We will soonsee that there are quite a few differences.

1. Applications

We previously discussed the similar uses that these two materials can have. With this being said, plywood in particular does  also have some additional uses. Plywood can be used for structural purposes,as well as for building boats, constructing various pieces of furniture, and much more. If you are looking for decent lumber, plywood is the way to go.

2. Eco-Friendliness

However, if you are looking for a product that is environmentally friendly, then densglass is definitely the way to go. Plywood has a few different chemicals in it that can emit gas. This means that plywood is definitely not the most environmentally friendly material. However, densglass panels do not have any harmful chemicals in them,s making  it a much more eco-friendly option.

3. Fire Resistance

When it comes to plywood, it is admittedly not very fire resistant, as it is made out of wood, and wood is quite combustible. On the other hand, densglass sheathing has an extremely high fire resistance rating. It has the ability to resist extreme heat, and  also doesn’t combust easily, even when directly exposed to flames.

4. Water Resistance

One of the primary reasons that densglass is so popular is because it is extremely resistant to moisture and humidity. It won’t absorb water and it won’t really degrade due to long periods of exposure to high levels of moisture.

On the other hand, plywood is not very moisture resistant, especially low-grade plywood. It can crack or warp if it is exposed to moisture for prolonged periods of time. There are special types of plywood with moisture resistance, such as marine plywood, but typically densglass is the safer option.

5. Durability and Longevity

When it comes to durability and longevity, densglass still has plywood beat. Densglass is much better at absorbing impacts,  dealing with harsh weather, as well as having much better longevity overall. Densglass is simply not as susceptible to damage, and will last much longer.

6. Installation

One big downside of densglass, however, is its complicated installation process. While Plywood can often be installed in a DIY manner, densglass will definitely require professional installation.

7. Finish

While plywood does tend to have a fairly good surface finish, especially higher-grade plywood, it still doesn’t stack up to densglass in terms of the surface finish, which tends to be very high quality and smooth.

8. Cost

Generally speaking, densglass is going to be more expensive than plywood. That said, unlike plywood, it does not need to be sealed or painted, and is much more durable and long lasting . In the long run, densglass is typically going to be the more cost effective of the two.

9. Weight

When it comes to weight, densglass is far denser and heavier than plywood. This means that plywood is quite a bit easier to work with.

10. Air Leakage

One upside of the denser construction of densglass, however, is that it is much better for sealing against airflow than plywood is. This means it’s a much better insulator than plywood.

Which of the Two Should You Use?

If you are doing any kind of sheathing, floor underlayment, roof underlayment, or underlayment for bricks and masonry, then densglass is the way to go.

However, for any other construction purposes, such as for the simple building of walls, for anything structural, or for building furniture, plywood is probably going to be your best bet.


Now that you know what the main differences between these two building materials are, you can make an informed choice between them.