Builders can choose from a variety of wood sheathing products that range in cost, strength, insulation value, and ease of installation. Of the options available, plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) are the strongest and most durable. Wood sheathing panels add shear and racking strength important characteristics that are engineered to help a structure withstand the forces of high winds and earthquakes. Wood-sheathed walls are easy to build and easy to insulate for high R values.
Structural insulated panels (SIPs)-which commonly consist of rigid foam board sandwiched between structural wood sheathing (plywood and OSB)-can be used in place of stud-framed construction for both walls and ceilings.
While manufactured wood products often perform as well or better than lumber, glues used in the manufacturing process can cause indoor air quality problems. Engineered wood products made with exterior-type glues (phenolic resins) and urethane (polyurea) adhesives give off some of the lowest emissions. Because they're susceptible to damage from termites and dry rot, some wood products also are pressure-preservative treated. These products can also sometimes negatively affect indoor air quality if not used properly.