There are a number of sheet materials typically used these are plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), particleboard (chipboard) and MDF (medium-density fibreboard). Each of these has different properties and uses within the building trade. So which do you need?
Plywood is produced from a minimum of three layers of veneer that are glued together. Each layer is set at 90 degrees to the previous layer for optimum strength. Ply can also have other substances to improve strength and stability, in the form of metal, plastic, Formica or resin-impregnated paper. These additional layers can assist with the adhesion of paints and other finishes.
Plywood has a range of uses from sheathing walls and floors, for use with track and stud and for furniture such as kitchen cabinets.
OSB, or oriented strand board
OSB3 is designed for structural use in load-bearing and challenging conditions. It’s created by compressing layers of wood strands with adhesives (wax and synthetic resin). Each strand of wood is layered in a way to promote strength.
Often designed to withstand humidity it is slow to uptake liquid. It is produced to have strength and stiffness equivalent to that of plywood and can take on many of the roles that plywood traditionally takes such as sheathing in walls, flooring, and roof decking.
Produced from wood chips, sawmill shavings that are compressed with glue or resin to form a board, hence the name chipboard. A very versatile option, particleboard is cheap and great for ready-made furniture, offering a much more uniform finish than traditional timber. It can be laminated or come in multiple finishes. Particleboard lacks the strength of plywood and OSB and also lacks the resistance to humidity.
MDF (Medium Density Fibre Board)
Similar to particleboard, MDF is created using very fine particles of wood mixed with wax or resin then cured at high temperatures & pressures.
MDF is a very smooth and consistent looking wood, ideal for painting or creating cut details using jigsaws or scroll saws. It is, however, prone to soaking up moisture and is best suited to indoor projects, such as shelving or furniture.