Densglass Sheathing vs Plywood: 8 Differences You Need To Know

The selection of exterior sheathing is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to your house, so it’s no wonder you’re looking to learn more before making the final decision. In this guide, we will present both choices with all their pros and cons.

What is the best type of sheathing for your home? It all depends on your expectations and plans. The sheathing is a barrier protecting your home from different weather conditions, and it is considered additional insulation in certain cases.

Let’s go ahead and introduce both Densglass sheathing and plywood so you can make a choice.

What is Densglass Sheathing?

Densglass sheathing is a great choice if you live in areas with extreme weather conditions since it provides superb protection. Since it is water-resistant, it is recommended in areas that get a lot of moisture, snow, and rain.

Of course, people tend to choose Densglass sheathing even in normal weather conditions for its many benefits, including mold resistance, which is a very important factor when it comes to sheathing. 

It also provides stability for your exterior walls, being resistant to any buckling, sagging, or rippling. Densglass sheathing creates an ideal, flat surface to work on thanks to its stability and durability.

Densglass sheathing is an ideal choice for your exterior walls, thanks to its structural properties. It is often used in insulation, finishing systems, as well as cladding, and stone veneer applications. However, it can also be implemented in an interior finishing system.

Densglass exterior sheathing is specifically made to endure extreme humidity, and even in the most humid areas, it will not sag under these conditions. Therefore, it is considered a reliable, quality choice for your exterior insulation.

A possible downside of this kind of sheathing is that it doesn’t perform well with forced air heaters, so if you intend on using these, you should probably look into other options. The reason behind this is that the heaters create a lot of water vapor that causes condensation.

Keep in mind that a proper drainage system is necessary if the water from a cascading roof is directed towards the Densglass sheathing, as it is not meant to be immersed in water

What is Plywood Sheathing?

Before you make a final call, it is necessary to get familiar with all the options and choose the best solution for your particular home. When you think about it, sheathing isn’t something that can easily be replaced, and it is a permanent decision.

Plywood sheathing belongs to the wood-based structural sheathing category, and it comes in the form of cross-laminated sheets of wood, connected using a hot press. It is a common choice of sheathing since it dries relatively fast, and it provides a decent level of moisture resistance.

Many people tend to confuse plywood sheathing with plywood underlayment, but they have completely different roles.

While plywood typically absorbs more moisture than other types of sheathing such as OSB, it also dries out quicker than other options, which means there’s a lesser chance of issues such as condensation and mold.

Also, many people rely on plywood for its sheathing due to its resistance and durability. As opposed to OSB, plywood sheathing doesn’t bulge under pressure, and it rarely swells at the edges, which makes it a rather reliable option.

While there will be some swelling in humid conditions, as plywood absorbs the moisture when it dries, it goes back to its original shape, and the deformities aren’t permanent. With other types of sheathing, such as OSB, the deformities can remain.

What is the difference between Densglass Sheathing and Plywood Sheathing?

In addition to your budget, as well as the weather conditions in your area, you have to consider various factors before deciding what kind of sheathing to use. We’ve prepared a list of important factors to consider that will help you make the final decision.

1. Uses & Versatility

Let’s talk a bit about the different uses and roles of these two types of material, and see which one offers more versatility. As far as Densglass sheathing is concerned, it is ideal for waterproofing thanks to its moisture resistance.

This is exactly why Densglass roof sheathing is so popular since it is an excellent, durable coating option. It is also a common choice for drywall sheathing, and gutters. Besides being a waterproof cover, it also offers sound insulation, which is a great bonus.

It is also easily installed, and it doesn’t require much work, as opposed to plywood which needs to be coated and sealed. Densglass sheathing is a cover on its own, so you don’t have to add anything on top. 

Besides the uses we’ve already mentioned, Densglass sheathing is a great option for protection against environmental damage, as it is suitable even for the most extreme weather conditions.

Plywood is an excellent choice for exterior insulation and sheathing, but it can also be used as an interior wood frame sheathing, underlayment, or even subfloor sheathing. It can absorb a lot of moisture but still dry relatively quickly. 

While both Densglass sheathing and plywood sheathing offer great versatility, at the end of the day, Densglass sheathing seems to be a better value for money, and it is more reliable when it comes to extreme weather conditions.

2. Material 

One of the main differences between these two options is the material they’re made from. Densglass sheathing consists of glass fibers, densified and bound with an acrylic binder, and it also includes a thin layer of aluminum on top which reflects heat. 

Plywood sheathing, on the other hand, is a wood-based structural material, made from wood planks. As opposed to Densglass sheathing, it has gaps between these individual planks, which allows the air to flow freely

3. Pricing

When it comes to the cost of these options of sheathing, you’ll notice that plywood is certainly more expensive than Densglass. The reason behind this price difference lies in the quality of design, durability, and the structure of the material itself.

However, when it comes to sheathing, it is definitely worth investing in, as you don’t want to replace it often. Regardless, keep in mind that plywood requires additional work, as you need to seal it and paint it after installing it.

Densglass sheathing installation, on the other hand, requires no additional work and there’s no additional cost, so it is definitely more affordable. 

4. Weight

When it comes to weight, Densglass usually weighs more than plywood, since it has a denser structure. However, this weight doesn’t necessarily mean a difference in quality and structural stability.

On the other hand, plywood, being a lighter option, is easier to install and work with, which does add to its versatility and convenience. 

5. Overall durability 

Densglass sheathing has been designed and produced to withstand even the most extreme weather conditions, including heavy rainfall, snowfall, and humidity. Since it is suitable for these areas, it is considered more durable than plywood, and it doesn’t budge as easily.

Although plywood has a certain degree of resistance to humidity, extreme weather conditions could cause the plywood sheathing to break, which is usually not the case with quality Densglass sheathing.

6. Fire Resistance

When choosing your sheathing, it is important to take all the factors into consideration – even the most extreme case scenarios. This is another category that Densglass sheathing dominates since it is a fire-resistant material (up to 750°F). 

On the other hand, plywood doesn’t have any precise ranking when it comes to fire resistance, which makes it quite unreliable in these situations. Therefore, it is safe to say that Densglass sheathing is a more secure choice for these unforeseen circumstances.

7. Environmental Impact

If you choose quality Densglass sheathing, it should be made from 100% natural materials without any harsh chemicals that would be considered damaging to the environment. Therefore, Densglass sheathing is usually an eco-friendly option.

Plywood sheathing, on the other hand, does include chemicals that could produce toxic fumes during the production process. That being said, plywood isn’t the best choice if you’re looking to purchase an eco-friendly product.

8. Installation Process

While Densglass sheathing is supposedly easy to install and doesn’t require any additional work such as painting and sealing, it does require professional assistance. It is always better to have professionals properly install this kind of sheathing than do it on your own.

Plywood sheathing, on the other hand, doesn’t weigh as much and it can be easily handled, so it’s a great choice if you’ve decided to do your own sheathing without having to hire any help. Also, it is extremely easy to install, and there’s hardly anything that could go wrong.

Densglass Sheathing or Plywood: which one is better?

The first factor you have to consider is cost. As we’ve mentioned, plywood is a more expensive option, but it doesn’t require professional help. Densglass sheathing installation, on the other hand, should be handled by professionals.

Also, it is important to take local weather conditions into consideration. Does your area get a lot of humidity and rain during the year? If so, Densglass is definitely the way to go. It is also an amazing option for roof sheathing.

Densglass takes the win in the majority of categories, including water resistance and fire resistance. It is also considered to be more durable, but plywood, on the other hand, isn’t prone to deformities due to humidity. However, when it comes to versatility, they’re pretty similar.

Before you make the final call, perhaps it would be helpful to consult a professional and see what works best for your individual case, after you’ve taken all the mentioned factors into consideration.

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