OSB vs MDF: Head to Head Battle

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Choosing between OSB and MDF can be really hard. Because their looks and features are a bit similar. That’s why the chances of making a wrong choice are high.

What are the main distinctions between OSB vs MDF?

OSB is thought to be more durable than MDF. OSB is a structurally sound material. It also outperforms MDF in terms of water, moisture, and weather resistance. MDF, on the other hand, is more versatile and simple to work with than OSB. This is why it’s ideal for projects that demand a smooth texture.

This is only just a part of this discussion. But it’s not enough.  We’ve provided a detailed comparison between these two. 

Spare a few minutes and read our entire piece!

OSB vs MDF: Basic Difference 

You can choose either OSB or MDF. However, before you do so, you should be aware of their differences. Just like how you’d want to know the difference between wood and composite deck screws. If you don’t know the basic differences, you might make the wrong decision. 

But don’t worry, we got you. We have the basic differences between OSB and MDF lined up just for you. Let’s have a look at what they are- 

AspectsOSBMDF
Price $5.58-$24.51$5.58-$12.25
What they’re made ofRaisin adhesive, softwood residuals, waxWood fibers, wax, raisins
Common uses flooring, sheds, creative DIY projectShelves, furniture, crafts, flooring, trim work
Strength StrongMedium Strong
Water resistance Some are water-resistant. Some are not. No
Ability to take paintHarder to paintEasier to paint
DurabilityHighMedium
Eco friendlyYesSomewhat
Easy to work withSomewhat easy Easy 

Are you still confused? Don’t panic. We also have a detailed comparison for you. 

OSB vs MDF: Detailed Comparison

If you’re looking for a high-quality board, you’ll want to go with the best. Just like you’d want the perfect wood for your basement stairs.

That’s why we have all the information in detail. So, what exactly are you waiting for? Let’s see what they are-

Price & Availability

OSB is a form of engineered wood. On the other hand, MDF is a fiberboard.

OSB wood is also extremely robust. They can be harder to work with.  MDF is simple to work with and can produce excellent results. 

OSB board pricing depends on their thickness. The same goes for MDF boards. Let’s see how their prices vary. 

OSB boards prices and availability:

ThicknessPrice Availability 
20 mm$24.51Highly available 
18 mm$22.98Highly available
15 mm$20.79Highly available 
5 mm$8.84Somewhat available 
3 mm$5.58Less available 

It’s time to see the prices of MDF boards:

ThicknessPriceAvailability
20 mm$5.8Highly available 
18 mm$10.86Highly available 
12 mm$12.25Highly available 

Now you know the detailed pricing of both wooden boards. 

What They Are Made Of

OSB boards offer a distinct look and feel. This allows them to more easily integrate themselves into architectural designs.

They are normally made with waste wood and a powerful adhesive. These boards are formed of perpendicularly pressed wood chips. They are glued together with a resin afterward. That’s applied under tremendous pressure at a high temperature.

Prior to production and processing, raw materials for OSB panels must be screened. It must be peeled and sliced first. It has to be cleansed to ensure that no impurities remain afterward. Finally, they are sanded using high-precision machinery. 

MDF boards are constructed of wood fibers that have been glued together with a synthetic adhesive. They’re then compacted using heat and pressure. As a result, the board is robust and consistent, with a superb finish and endurance.

We have recommended some good quality OSB and MDF boards that you can use-

Product 1
Product 2

Feel free to use them if you like. Let’s examine the other differences between these two boards now.

Common Uses

If you’re not an expert at woodworking, using these boards can be problematic. That’s why you should consider learning some woodworking tips

Anyhow, OSB is commonly used in the construction of walls, ceilings, and floor bases. They’re also used to make wood flooring, bricks, cladding, and construction shelters. Because of their hard texture, they are perfect for these uses. 

But they are harder to paint. It’s because OSB has a thin wax covering that protects it from moisture. OSB strands are also rough naturally. This is why, to eliminate some of the wood’s roughness, filler, and strong primer are required. 

Painting OSB boards can also make them swell or shatter.  As a result, if you’re planning to paint them, it’s best not to use them. 

MDF can be painted, lacquered, glued from natural sheets. It can also be covered in melamine. Because of this, MDF boards are the most popular carpentry material. They can be used for cladding on walls, doors, and cabinets, among other things.

Ease Level While Using

OSB boards have a thickness, which ranges from 2.5mm to 30mm. The panel’s outer layers are aligned with the panel’s strength axis. The inner layers are aligned with the axis perpendicularly. As a result, it can also be converted into a curve depending on manufacturing needs.

Unlike most wood, MDF does not have a natural grain. It’s a man-made wood product rather than a natural wood product. A consistent panel is created by fusing and gluing medium-density fiberboard. This makes sawing a lot easier. As a result, the board is free of knots and grain. 

Finally, both products can be described as simple to use. But MDF boards are easier to use than OSB boards because of their materials. You can easily turn your project from good to great by using these two products. 

Strength & Durability

OSB boards are quite strong and solid mechanically. This is due to the fact that they are 50 strands thick.For this, OSB sheets are regarded as a superior wood product. But this can make them heavier and harder to lift. 

On the other hand, MDF boards are strong but not as strong as OSB boards. Machines could cut the fibers in any direction because they are aligned. This results in a smooth finish. 

But this also makes them weaker than OSB. They can easily break and ruin your structure. 

Water-resistance or Not

OSB is made with waterproof resin adhesives that are applied to all wood strands. As a result, the panel is more water-resistant than others. For added security, the edges are also sealed. OSB is water-resistant but not waterproof.

On the other hand, MDF is moisture resistant. But it is neither waterproof nor water-resistant. When exposed to the environment, it is still susceptible to swelling and warping. 

Final Verdict: Which One to Go For

If you need boards for flooring then OSB is the perfect option. Because these are sturdy and have an aesthetic feel to them. 

But,  if you want to make light furniture, then MDF is the option. Besides this, MDF can be cut and shaped any way you like. That’s why these are perfect for special DIY projects. 

FAQs

Question: Is MDF good for the subfloor? 

Answer: Yes, MDF is good to use for subfloors. MDF is a good underlayment material. This is simply due to the fact that it is both affordable and easy to use.

Question: Is OSB less expensive than plywood?

Answer: Plywood is more expensive than OSB. A normal 2,400-square-foot home built using OSB could cost $700 less than one built with plywood.

Question: Is it possible to seal OSB boards?

Answer: Yes, you can seal OSB boards. You can use a variety of OSB sealers to protect your OSB from moisture and water. The majority of these sealers are odorless when applied and after curing.

Final Word

Osb vs MDF, now you know which kind of board you need. One last piece of advice, make sure to buy high-quality boards. Do this by checking the boards thoroughly so there are no cracks or dents. 

Good luck with your DIY project!

Scott Kelly