OSB vs. Particle Board: Which to Choose?

OSB vs. Particle Board: Which to Choose?

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If you are planning to do some floor underlayment or build cost-effective furniture, then there are several types of engineered wood that you might be interested in using. Two popular types of engineered wood for these purposes include OSB and particle board.

However, these two are not at all the same things, and they do have many differences between them. Let’s figure out what both particle board and OSB are, what makes them different, and which is best for certain applications.

OSB and Particle Board: The Basics

Before we start talking about similarities and differences, let’s first figure out what both OSB and particle board are.

What Is OSB?

First, we have OSB, which stands for oriented strand board, which is a type of engineered wood. OSB is made out of long wooden strands, usually up to 15 cm in length. These wooden strands are oriented in a cross-grain manner. This means that each layer in OSB sees the strands perpendicular to the last.

This, therefore, allows for a decent amount of durability, nail and screw holding strength, weight-bearing capabilities, and more. Those strands are then mixed together with adhesives and binders and are pressed into panels using great amounts of heat and pressure. OSB is also quite cost effective, more so than plywood, thus making it a popular material used for wall, floor, and roof sheathing.

What Is Particle Board?

We then have particle board, which is another type of engineered wood. Particle board, unlike OSB, is made out of much smaller wood chips and sawmill shavings.

These wood chips and shavings are layered on top of each other in no particular order and are mixed into a glue matrix. In other words, special adhesives, along with a good deal of heat, are used to press the chips and shavings together into a solid panel.

Particle board is a very cost-effective material, although it does have limited strength, durability, weight-bearing capabilities, nail and screw holding ability, and moisture resistance. Particle board is sometimes used as sheathing, although it is also often used to make cost-effective furniture and cabinets.

Similarities of OSB and Particle Board

Now that we know what both oriented strand board and particle board are, let’s figure out what makes them similar to each other.

1. Both are Engineered Wood

One of the most common similarities here is that both OSB and particle board are specific types of engineered wood. This means that, instead of them just being solid lumber, they are made by taking various types of wood scraps or bits and gluing them together to form solid panels. Both are not solid lumber.

2. They Share Some Common Uses

Another similarity shared by both OSB and particle board is that they can be used for the same purposes. Both may be used for roof, wall, and floor sheathing, as well as for the construction of low-cost furniture.

Differences Between OSB and Particle Board

Now that we know what makes OSB and particle board similar, let’s figure out what makes them different.

1. The Construction

The main difference between the two is that OSB is made using long strands of wood taken right from trees, whereas particle board is made with wood shavings, chips, and sawmill dust created through the production of other wooden building materials and items. Moreover, OSB features that cross-grain construction, which leads to many of the other differences we are about to discuss.

2. Durability

One of the biggest differences here is that OSB is the far more durable choice of these two building materials. Due to that cross-grain construction, OSB is far stronger and more able to withstand heavy impacts and other forms of damage. In terms of overall durability, particle board just is not that strong and cannot handle very much punishment at all.

3. Weight-Bearing Capabilities

One of the reasons why OSB is preferred for flooring and roof sheathing is due to the fact that it can bear more weight than particle board. Yes, this is also due to the cross-grain construction that OSB features. Particle board can hold up to around 35 pounds per square foot, which is not too bad, but OSB can hold much more, therefore making it better for high-traffic areas.

4. Weight

Although OSB is the much stronger of the two, due to its construction, it is also much heavier than particle board. Particle board is very lightweight, which is why many people like working with it. OSB, on the other hand, can be quite heavy to lift, and this can sometimes make it fairly difficult to work with.

5. Moisture Resistance

Another big difference here is that particle board is not as susceptible to absorbing or being damaged by moisture. Particle board just isn’t designed to handle moisture, whereas OSB can handle a bit of it. Now, both are not waterproof at all, and both aren’t the best for applications that involve moisture, but OSB is definitely the better of the two.

6. Ease of Cutting and Painting

Because it is not very smooth and due to its cross-grain construction, cutting OSB and painting it can be a challenge. Particle board on the other hand is quite smooth and uniform, therefore making it easy to cut and paint.

7. Stiffness and Flexibility

OSB is stiffer and harder than particle board, yet also a bit more flexible and pliable at the same time, therefore making it ideal for flooring.

8. Cost

One big difference to consider here is that, although both particle board and OSB are cost-effective, due to its higher quality, OSB is the more expensive of the two.

9. Eco-Friendliness

OSB is made with fresh lumber, whereas particle board is made with scraps and shavings, therefore making particle board a bit more eco-friendly.

OSB vs. Particle Board: Which Should You Use?

If you just need a decent panel to make low-cost furniture, and you need something that is easy to cut and paint, then particle board is the way to go. However, if you need something strong that can hold weight and easily holds onto nails and screws, then OSB is the better of the two.


Now that you know what makes OSB and particle board similar and different from one another, you can make an informed choice as to which one to use for specific applications.