Top 5 Exterior Wall Sheathing Materials

zip sheathing system

Exterior sheathing is used daily as the demand for more residential homes is on the rise. The purpose of sheathing is to help strengthen the walls and the ability to apply the product such as siding onto it.

There are different types and sizes of exterior wall sheathing depending on how much one wishes to spend. While sheathing is common in the construction industry, most homeowners do not account for this when it comes to the overall total of a new build or repair job.  I will go ahead and break down the top 5 materials that are most commonly used by builders and contractors.

1. Oriented-strand board- Also known as OSB for short, is the optimal sheathing choice amongst homeowners and builders. The board is created layer by layer with compressed wood strands that are held together with resin and a wax adhesive.

2. Plywood- Unlike OSB which is created in layers of small pieces of wood, plywood is assembled from whole sheets of peeled wood. This method actually creates a stronger board internally. Not only is it stronger but it is also more resistant to water and swelling due to the outside temperatures.

3. Diagonal Tongue and Groove- This type of sheathing was very common until after World War ll. Solid wood is the best sheathing and created the best structural support but comes with a higher price tag.

4. Structural Fiberboard- This material is made from recycled wood which is shredded finely and combined into its panel shape by mixing in wax and resin. Fiberboard is not as lightweight as plywood or OSB but does provide a better resistance against the external elements. Fiberboard is, even more, cost-effective. However, they do not typically hold the fasteners near as well as wood does.

5. Foam Board- Replaces the need for actual wood sheathing as it acts as both an insulator and an exterior support. Depending on the brand of foam board that is purchased the use of weather barrier can actually be eliminated.

In our previous blog, we touched base more on what sheathing is, and the different uses of sheathing on a residential home build. Click here to read more about it.

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