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Subfloor Questions. Particle Board vs OSB

by in Hardwood Materials
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Particle Board vs Oriented Strand Board(OSB)

 Sometimes people are confused about proper subfloor for their new flooring. The biggest confusion is between particle board and OSB, Oriented Strand Board. One of them can be used as stable and durable subfloor for your hardwood and another can't. So let's take a look at both of them to determine the main differences. 

Particle Board

b2ap3_thumbnail_particle-board.jpgParticle boars is made out of saw dust, tiny wood chips and particles, which are pressed and glued together. It's not very durable and can be easily damaged with screw driver or knife. It looks pretty consistent. All small particle and wood chips blend in together and create pretty calm and neutral look. In general it's pretty smooth and plain. Particle board is mostly used as second subfloor for the carpet coverings. It adds extra softness and lifts the floor a bit in case you want it to match the floor level in the rest of the house. Particle Board helps if part of the floor is covered with 3/4" thick hardwood floor and you don't want to have thresholds or reducers. Particle boards is also used in manufacturing process. Laminate floor is actually made of particle board kind of material, which is called HDF(High Density Fiberboard) or MDF(Medium Density Fiberboard). National Wood Flooring Association DOES NOT approve Particle Board as adequate subfloor for hardwood flooring. Particle Board subfloor would not hold hardwood floor boards tight enough. Eventually flooring boards will disperse and create gaps between them. 



b2ap3_thumbnail_OSB-production.jpgOriented Strand Board In other hand, OSB, as known as Oriented Strand Board is a structural panel, made of thin wood strands, small wood chunks and pieces compressed and glued together. It has a lot of character in it since all wood flakes stands out by its size, color and uniqueness. Wood strips on the external layers are aligned to the panel's strength axis, while internal layers are perpendicular. OSB thickness can vary from 7/16 to 1 1/2 inches wide. National Wood Flooring Association and National Oak Flooring Manufacturers’ Association have issued official policies on the use of hardwood flooring over OSB. Both associations recognize 23/32” or thicker OSB panels certified by U.S> D.O.C. Voluntary Product Standard PS2 as an Acceptable Underlay for nail-down wood strip flooring under prescribed conditions. Today, most of the flooring manufacturers around the globe accept and approve Oriented Strand Board as appropriate subfloor for nail down installation.  


So whenever you considering to have carpeted floor in your house, particle board is cheap and proper material to use as subfloor. In other hand if you plan to have hardwood, make sure that you have OSB or plywood is installed.