OSB (Oriented Strand Board) Flooring

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Cheap, low VOC flooring?

Sept 2005

I was thinking of using wafer board (oriented strand board or OSB) for studio flooring in my kinda large art studio -- it looks cool, it can take a beating, and it's cheap. That was until I read about the health hazards of all that formaldahyde off-gassing! Does anybody know about any bio-based composite that is locally available which I could use instead? Cork and linoleum are too $$ for the amount of space I have to cover, but I definitely need to put something over the cement slab (both for my feet and to cut the chill). Any suggestions really appreciated!
Prototypical Poor Starving Artist

Actually, OSB might be a very good choice. While it does use formaldehyde, it is the PHENOL type which has extremely low off-gassing. Offgassing is a real problem with products containing UREA formaldehyde, found in plywood for interior use, MDF, particleboard, etc. Exterior products - exterior plywood and OSB - do not use UREA formaldehyde. If you finish the floor with a few coats of polyurethane, there will be even less off-gas (but it's already practically non-detectable). R.K.
CONTACT Build it Green - at builditgreen.org they are based in Berkeley and have an ask the expert hotline that can help you with your question. FYI You can buy formaldehyde free MDF (such as Medite by Sierra Pine) or exterior plywood that has less formaldehyde than interior plywood. Also, go to Stopwaste.org (under green building, residenital) there are residential green remodeling guidelines that will help educate you on this and other issues. Good luck