December 30, 2022 5 min read

OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials
OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials

You may be shocked to learn that wood comes from trees. You’re not? Oh… Well, it does, and the same wood used to make your favorite furniture is also used to make other furniture materials.

Furniture materials made from wood are called composite materials. You might be wondering what types of composite materials are out there and what quality levels they belong in. Is there a good, better, or best ranking for each material?

This article will cover the three primary materials used to make wooden furniture: OSB, Plywood, and solid wood. You will learn what each material is and where it ranks on the good, better, and best ranking system.

Furniture Fair has sold furniture made from OSB, Plywood, and solid wood to satisfied customers throughout Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky, and Southern Indiana. We want you to know about the pros and cons of each material and why they may be right for you.

Read on to learn about Plywood, OSB, and Solid Wood, which may suit your needs.

OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials
OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials

Why Do Furniture Manufacturers Use Different Wood Materials?

Solid wood is grown from large trees and takes time to grow before being ready to harvest. Depending on the tree, the growth process can take decades. Due to how long the growth process can take, many hardwoods are less readily available for furniture manufacturing.

Materials like OSB and Plywood are composite materials, meaning they are made from wood and designed to be more accessible than solid wood. Furniture companies use composite materials to meet customer demands without charging premium prices.

Weight is also a factor for many manufacturers, and denser woods have more robust durability while adding more weight to the furniture design. Depending on the customers' needs, lighter furniture may be a better option than heavy solid wood furniture.

OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials

What Is OSB?

OSB stands for Oriented Strand Board, a fancy term for thousands of wood pieces that are compressed and glued together. OSB is a cost-effective solution to building materials that also help use a lot of wood that would otherwise not be used in furniture-making.

OSB is more common in good-quality furniture since it is cheaper than plywood and solid wood. You can find OSB in bedroom sets, dining sets, and upholstery furniture such as recliners and sectionals.

Here are a few of the pros of OSB. Due to the more readily available supply, OSB is less expensive to manufacture, which means less cost to the consumer. In addition, OSB can also be more lightweight than other wood types.

If you move often or like to redesign your room regularly, having lighter furniture can be beneficial and easier on your floors. In addition, if you live on the third floor of an apartment complex, more lightweight furniture is easier to move up and down the stairs.

Now that we’ve looked at the pros of OSB, let's look at a few potential cons. OSB is not as durable as plywood or solid wood. In addition, OSB is not ideal for humid climates or moisture. Prolonged exposure to water can lead to mildew or mold.

OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials
OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials

What Is Plywood?

Plywood gets its name from the ‘plies’ or sheets peeled from the log. Once peeled, the thin sheets of wood veneer are laid on top of each other at 90-degree angles and glued into place, forming a wood sheet.

The cross-grained structure of plywood makes it more resistant to bending, while the glue keeps the plywood in place and adds strength and durability to the plywood board. There are wide varieties of plywood for applications from marine or tropical use to flooring.

Because it is engineered, plywood can be as thin or thick as needed. Thicker plywoods are more durable than some solid woods and, depending on the application, can be the better option for furniture building, especially for dresser drawers or heavy-duty furniture frames.

Plywood in furniture is primarily used to construct furniture frames. A plywood frame will have strength and durability while saving materials and costs. Of all the engineered woods, Plywood remains the strongest and most reliable.

Plywood is malleable and easy to shape, meaning a faster manufacturing process and more readily available furniture. Plywood sheets are more extensive than regular wood boards and can be used in larger projects. Some plywood types are stronger than some solid wood types.

Now that we’ve looked at the pros of Plywood, let's look at a few potential cons. Plywood is strong but not as durable as most solid woods, especially hardwoods. If you are looking for heirloom furniture to pass on to the next generation, you may want to consider solid wood construction.

OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials

What Is Solid Wood?

Solid wood is harvested from timber rather than manufactured or constructed from various wood composites or wood-like substances. Solid wood is the real thing; no corners are cut to save costs.If it's solid wood, it's about as close to a whole tree as your furniture can get.

Solid wood benefits are durability, easier finish repair, and a wow factor that few other furniture construction materials provide. Solid wood furniture is some of the best quality furniture on the market.

When you buy solid wood, whether, for a wooden bed and dressers or wooden chairs and a dining table, you are investing in the longevity of your furniture. Your cost will be higher than cheap furniture, but the longevity will make your piece more economical. A solid wood furniture is an excellent option if you hate replacing your couch or dining set every three years.

Some solid wood tables have a catalyzed finish, making the already durable wood stronger and easier to maintain. In addition to added strength, a catalyzed finish provides stain resistance, so accidental spills are no longer quite as damaging.

One of the few drawbacks of solid wood furniture is that it may be heavier because it is natural wood. If you live on the third floor or need to move around for work, there may be better options than solid wood furniture.

Solid wood is also the most expensive material of the three mentioned here. Solid wood is your best bet if you want to invest in the highest quality. If you want to stay within a budget, look for Plywood or OSB.

Another potential drawback to solid wood furniture is that each piece of furniture will look slightly different due to the varying nature of wood. Because trees are organic plants, they do not grow uniformly, and each piece of lumber will have specific characteristics that are not the same.

Wood veneer is also less affordable than solid wood furniture since trees are a valuable resource and take a long time to grow to harvestable sizes. Affordability is why many manufacturers use engineered wood to create their furniture.  

Keep that in mind when deciding between natural wood and wood veneers. Higher quality is a great plus, but quality should not put you out of an affordable price range. Solid wood is the best option for someone looking to invest in long-lasting quality furniture.

OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials
OSB vs. Plywood vs. Solid Woods: Ranking Furniture Wood Materials

Ready To Find Out Which Furniture Material Is Right For Your Needs?

Now that you know the differences between these wood types, you can find out what the furniture you are looking for is made from. When you see the quality is worth your price, you can shop confidently.

Remember that solid wood takes time to grow, and composite woods are a more affordable option that uses more of the tree. Keep in mind that plywood is more substantial than OSB, while solid wood tends to be the strongest.

If you want to test the quality of our furniture and live in the Louisville, Dayton, or Cincinnati area, check out Furniture Fair! Visit a location near you, view our extensive collections, and see our wide range of quality furniture options, including custom furniture options.

Visit a furniture store showroom today, and one of our sales experts will be glad to help you find the furniture of your dreams. Come in and see the quality of our furniture for yourself.