The Types of Exterior Wall Sheathing Options; Which is Best for Your Home?

The Types of Exterior Wall Sheathing Options; Which is Best for Your Home?

July 25, 2023

The Types of Exterior Wall Sheathing Options; Which is Best for Your Home?

When it comes to building or renovating your home, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is choosing the right exterior wall sheathing. The sheathing not only provides structural support but also plays a crucial role in insulating your home and protecting it from the elements. With a wide range of options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is best suited for your needs. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of exterior wall sheathing options and help you determine which is best for your home.

1. Plywood Sheathing:

Plywood sheathing is a popular choice due to its affordability and versatility. It consists of multiple layers of thin veneer wood that are glued together to form a strong and durable panel. Plywood sheathing offers excellent structural integrity and can withstand high winds and impact. It is also known for its excellent dimensional stability, meaning it maintains its shape and strength over time. However, plywood sheathing does require proper installation and regular maintenance to prevent warping and rotting.

2. Oriented Strand Board (OSB):

OSB is another commonly used exterior wall sheathing material. It is made from small strands of wood that are oriented in different directions and then compressed and bonded with resins. OSB offers similar structural properties to plywood sheathing but at a lower cost. It is readily available and easy to install, making it a popular choice among builders. However, OSB is more susceptible to moisture damage compared to plywood sheathing and may require additional moisture barriers or coatings.

3. Fiber Cement Sheathing:

Fiber cement sheathing is a composite material made from a mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers. It offers excellent durability and resistance to fire, insects, and rot. Fiber cement sheathing is also known for its dimensional stability and can withstand extreme weather conditions. It is available in various textures and finishes, offering a wide range of design options. However, fiber cement sheathing is heavier and more expensive compared to other options, and installation requires special tools and techniques.

4. Exterior Gypsum Sheathing:

Exterior gypsum sheathing is a lightweight and cost-effective option for exterior wall sheathing. It is made from gypsum board reinforced with fiberglass mats. Exterior gypsum sheathing offers good fire resistance and is easy to install. It also provides good insulation properties and can contribute to energy efficiency. However, it is not as strong as other options and may require additional support in high wind or seismic areas.

5. Foam Insulating Sheathing:

Foam insulating sheathing is a popular choice for homeowners looking to improve their home’s energy efficiency. It is made from rigid foam panels that provide excellent insulation and reduce thermal bridging. Foam insulating sheathing also acts as a moisture barrier and can help prevent condensation and mold growth. However, it is not suitable for structural support and needs to be combined with other sheathing materials.


So, which exterior wall sheathing option is best for your home? The answer depends on several factors such as your budget, climate, design preferences, and structural requirements. If you are on a tight budget, plywood sheathing or OSB may be the most cost-effective options. If you live in an area prone to extreme weather conditions, fiber cement sheathing or plywood sheathing might offer better durability and resistance. If energy efficiency is your primary concern, foam insulating sheathing could be the right choice.

It is important to consult with a professional engineer or architect to assess your specific needs and determine the best option for your home. They will take into consideration factors such as local building codes, structural design, and long-term maintenance requirements. Investing in the right exterior wall sheathing will not only ensure a sturdy and well-insulated home but also protect your investment for years to come.

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Since 2006, High Plains Engineering & Consulting, LLC has been a civil and structural engineering company in Fort Lupton and the surrounding areas. We provide sensible solutions to geotechnical, structural, environmental, and civil engineering challenges. Our office provides practical expertise backed by diverse design resources to get the job done cost-effectively and efficiently with sustainability in mind. We offer various services for commercial, residential, and agricultural properties like soil testing, percolation testing, and foundation and septic design for new construction. Once that is taken care of we also offer services for floor framing, garage plans, house plans, site plans, and inspection services. Call for an appointment today!

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