” What is the difference between ‘aspenite’, OSB, waferboard and chipboard? I have spent hours on the net and I have read everything from ‘they are the same’ to ‘they are totally different’. Any help/clarification you can pass along would be greatly appreciated.” – Eddie Marano
Thank you for your question, Eddie. I will do my best to clear up the confusion.
Aspenite was the brand name for the waferboard produced by a company called MacMillan Bloedel. Waferboard was the precursor to OSB (or Oriented Strand Board) however, there was a time when both were being produced. The last waferboard mill closed roughly 10 years ago, it was in Longlac, ON.
Waferboard strands or chips are more square and were randomly laid out in a mat and pressed under high heat and pressure. You can tell the difference between the two if you look at the face of the panel where you can see the wood strands are squarer and randomly dispersed (waferboard) or they are rectangular and look like they are all pointing in the same direction (OSB).
OSB is made from fast-growing harvested trees generally Aspen or Pine. A popular misconception is that OSB is made from scraps of other wood products but this is simply not true. The strands range in size but typically are about 1-2 inches wide and up to 6-9 inches long depending on the species of tree and the manufacturing process.
You will see many smaller strands along with these longer strands, however it is the longer strands that give OSB its strength and stiffness. These strands are oriented on the faces of the panel parallel to the long direction of the panel (8’direction) and the core of the panel is oriented perpendicular to the face (4’ direction) to give the panel added strength.
The adhesive used in current OSB production is water proof, that is to say the adhesive is water proof not the panel. The wood fibres will still take on moisture as will plywood. Norbord produces premium OSB sub-floor panels where we guarantee that you will not have to sand panel edges due to exposure during the construction process. You can read more about them on our website. https://osb.westfraser.com/sub-floor
When someone calls something “chipboard” they could be referring to any number of engineered wood products. OSB, waferboard, MDF or Particleboard. MDF stands for medium density fibreboard, which is made of wood that has been reduced to fibres, it is denser but cannot be used as a structural panel. Particleboard wood fibre is slightly larger than that of MDF but still much smaller than OSB. It is also denser but not structural. Both MDF and Particleboard are mostly found in cabinetry.
Now to your sub-floor, a house built in 1985 in Burlington most likely would be OSB. Doubtful that it is waferboard but possible and also possible it was a waferboard produced by MacMillan Bloedel called “Aspenite”.
If you would like to be sure what it is in your house, take a picture and send it to me, if you can see a grade stamp it will be inked onto the bottom of the panel that will help.