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  • Writer's pictureZack Jurkowski

Plywood vs OSB: Which is Better for Your Subfloor?

As a licensed general contractor specializing in Montreal bathroom and kitchen renovations, one of the questions I often get asked is whether plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) is the better choice for subflooring. Both materials are commonly used in residential construction, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses. So, let's take a closer look at plywood vs OSB for subfloors.

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The Basics: What are Plywood and OSB?

Plywood is made from thin sheets of wood veneer that are glued together with each sheet's grain perpendicular to the sheet below it. The resulting panel has excellent strength and stability.

OSB, on the other hand, is made from wood strands that are arranged in layers and bonded with resin. The strands are oriented in a way that maximizes strength in both directions, making OSB more uniform and predictable than plywood.

Round One: Durability

When it comes to durability, both materials have their own advantages. Plywood is more resistant to moisture and tends to hold up better over time. However, OSB has a higher shear strength than plywood, making it more resistant to impact and heavy loads.

Winner: Plywood

Round Two: Cost

In terms of cost, OSB is typically less expensive than plywood, making it an attractive choice for cost-conscious homeowners.

Winner: OSB

Round Three: Ease of Installation

Both plywood and OSB are easy to install, but OSB is lighter, which can make it easier to handle and cut on the job site. Plywood is heavier and may require more than one person to install.

Winner: OSB

Round Four: Environmental Impact

When it comes to the environment, plywood has a lower carbon footprint than OSB due to the manufacturing process. Plywood is made from natural wood, while OSB is made from wood chips and resin, which require more energy to produce.

Winner: Plywood

The Verdict

So, which is better for your subfloor: plywood or OSB? The answer depends on your specific needs and priorities. If durability and moisture resistance are your top concerns, plywood is the way to go. If cost and ease of installation are your priorities, OSB is the better choice. Ultimately, both materials are viable options for subflooring, and a licensed general contractor can help you determine the best choice for your specific renovation project.

Final Thoughts

As a general contractor in Montreal, I have seen firsthand the pros and cons of both plywood and OSB for subflooring. Whether you're renovating your bathroom, kitchen, or any other area of your home, it's essential to choose the right material for your subfloor. By weighing the benefits of each material, you can make an informed decision and ensure the success of your renovation project.


Montreal Contractors is a qualified company, holding an active bonded license as a General Contractor and Specialized Contractor with the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ License: 5767-5480-01), ASP Health & Safety Certification and a $2M liability policy. Our employees have all passed background checks, are registered with CNESST and have their ASP Health and Safety certification.

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