Branching Out

Alastair Kerr, director general of the Wood Panels Industries Federation (WPIF) and spokesperson for the JOSB Done campaign, delves into the perplexing world of wood panels.

The plywood market can be difficult to navigate. Because there are so many different grades of plywood available, it can be difficult to know exactly what you are getting.

It can be difficult to be completely certain of the consistency of the product unless you understand what the various certification marks mean, especially since prices can fluctuate dramatically per panel.

Plywood has frequently been the first product of choice for projects requiring a panel product – simply because it is what builders are accustomed to. However, interest in Oriented Strand Board (OSB) has grown in recent years, as builders and contractors recognise the importance of using sustainable products, as well as the wide range of applications and, even more importantly, the performance it provides.

OSB is an engineered wood panel made by layering credit card-sized pieces of wood together under intense heat and pressure, resulting in an incredibly strong and versatile panel. OSB can be used in a variety of construction projects, ranging from roofing and flooring to wall partitioning, hoarding, and load bearing, and it can be stained, varnished, or painted as desired.

There are two types of OSB commonly used – OSB2 for load bearing dry conditions and OSB3 for load bearing humid conditions – making it simple to determine which type is appropriate for a given job.

According to the most recent wood panel industry research, global consumption of OSB is expected to increase by 11% per year over the next five years, compared to a 5% annual increase in consumption of plywood. Recognizing that there has been a significant shift in favour of strong and sustainable wood panels over the last decade, the study predicts that this trend will continue.

In the last decade, there has also been a massive shift in favour of strong and sustainable wood panels, as more installers and merchants choose environmentally friendly timber products.

As the demand for eco-friendly building materials grows, OSB is well positioned to meet this demand because it complies with government regulations and satisfies changing attitudes in the construction industry.

OSB manufactured in the UK has lower transportation costs, both in economic and carbon terms, so the environmental cost is lower when compared to similar products imported from further afield.

Furthermore, instead of using fossil fuels, much of the energy used to make OSB comes from the wood residue derived during the manufacturing process, significantly reducing overall carbon emissions during manufacture.

Because of the regulations and codes that govern the construction industry, strict rules require that the origins and sustainability of timber products be clarified, and because OSB is sourced and manufactured in the UK and the UK from locally managed FSC accredited forests, its sustainable credentials are certified, and the potential for litigation is eliminated.

Although laws are primarily aimed at manufacturers and importers, there are times when legislation has far-reaching implications for all those involved in construction or renovation projects, so builders must be aware of current legislation.

The European Union’s Timber Regulation (EUTR) went into effect last year, with the goal of regulating the timber sourcing chain and criminalising those found to be illegally sourcing timber. Heavy fines, stock seizures, and suspension of trading rights are among the consequences, so contractors should be aware of this and, if necessary, reconsider their material selection.

In addition to certification, the CE mark affixed to OSB is proof that it complies with the Construction Products Directive, allowing it to be placed on the European market in all member countries.

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The British Board of Agrement approval on each panel provides you with impartial, third-party assurance about the performance of OSB under modern construction conditions, as well as appropriate certification that demonstrates the chain of custody.

There is no doubt about the origin or performance of OSB, giving installers greater confidence that they are using an accredited building material that is both sustainable and high performing.

Last Updated on December 28, 2021

Indra-Gupta

Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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