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The 3 Best Roof Decking Materials For A Strong Roof
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The 3 Best Roof Decking Materials For A Strong Roof
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The 3 Best Roof Decking Materials For A Strong Roof

Posted on April 25, 2024

Estimated Reading Time : 4 Min.

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The 3 Best Roof Decking Materials For A Strong Roof

The roof is frequently an overlooked feature when building or remodeling a home. But, the significance of a robust and long-lasting roof can’t be exaggerated. The foundation of any sturdy roof is the decking material, which acts as the roof covering’s base. Your roof’s lifespan and structural integrity depend on your chosen decking material. 

This blog post examines three top options to help you select the best roof decking material for your requirements.

What Is Roof Decking?

Before delving into the best decking materials, it is essential that you first understand what roof decking is. Roof decking, also known as roof sheathing or the roof deck, forms the essential base of any roofing system, providing a sturdy foundation for the outer layers of roofing materials. 

Positioned between the roof’s structural components and layers of insulation and weatherproofing material, it plays a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity of the entire roof. Typically installed in large sheets secured to the roof’s framing, it evenly distributes the weight of materials and supports the whole roof system. This layer of decking, laid horizontally and overlapping to create a watertight barrier, ensures a solid surface for installing other roofing materials, such as shingles or tiles.

There are two main types of roof decking: solid sheathing and open sheathing. Solid sheathing provides a seamless surface under the roofing material, while open sheathing has gaps between the decking materials. Solid sheathing is commonly used in built-up, composition, shingle, tile, and metal roofing systems. It’s typically made of structural panels like plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), offering stability and cost-effectiveness. Open sheathing is used less often, but can be seen in wood shake and shingle roofing systems.

Best Roof Decking Material Options

#1. Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

The first roof decking material on our list is an engineered wood product called oriented strand board (OSB). It is created by compressing and gluing wood strands in set orientations. Because the strands are perpendicular to one another, these layers produce a strong, stable, and uniform material. 

Given that OSB is so inexpensive and versatile in residential and commercial construction applications, it is preferred for roof decking. It is typically manufactured in large, thin sheets that are four feet wide and vary in length.

  • Cost-Effective: OSB is a budget-friendly option for those looking to save money.
  • Strength and Durability: OSB boasts strong structural integrity, is ideal for rooftops, and can handle heavy loads without bending.
  • Moisture Resistance: Though OSB resists moisture fairly well, it needs proper waterproofing to prevent swelling or warping.
  • Ease of Installation: OSB’s lightness and ability to be shaped make installation easy, ensuring a smooth deck surface.

#2. Plywood Roof Decking

Plywood Roof Decking

The second decking option is plywood, a traditional decking material with thin layers of wood veneers glued together. These veneers are typically sourced from softwood species like pine, spruce, or fir. Arranged in a cross-grain pattern to enhance strength and stability, plywood comes in various thicknesses, with 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch being standard for roof decking. 

These sheets are usually four feet wide and come in lengths of eight, nine, or 10 feet. Despite its affordability and easy installation, plywood roof decking is robust and capable of supporting roofing components while providing a smooth surface for shingles. However, plywood is prone to moisture damage, leading to warping and rot if water seeps through the shingles. 

  • Versatility: Plywood suits roofs, floors, and walls with its consistent thickness and smooth surface.
  • Strength and Stability: It provides reliable structural stability, minimizing cracking or warping on roof decks.
  • Appearance: Easily customizable with staining or painting, its smooth surface enhances visual appeal.
  • Weather Resistance: Treated plywood, such as exterior-grade, withstands moisture and weather with ease.

#3. Metal Decking

The last option is metal decking, which is typically made from steel or aluminum and offers distinct advantages for roofing applications. Unlike other materials, it’s lightweight, durable, and fire-resistant, and is available in various profiles and thicknesses to suit diverse roof designs and loads. Commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings for its strength and longevity, metal decking has also become popular in modern residential projects.

Its robustness withstands harsh weather conditions, moderates attic temperatures, and can last between 40 to 70 years. Additionally, it’s eco-friendly, often crafted from recycled materials and recyclable at the end of its lifespan, though its initial cost may be higher than other options.

  • Lightweight: Metal roof decking is easy to handle and install, reducing structural needs and costs.
  • High Strength: Despite its lightness, metal roof decking is exceptionally strong, minimizing repair needs.
  • Easy Installation: Installation is straightforward with pre-cut options and a simple process.
  • Versatility: Metal roof decking suits various applications, especially in commercial buildings.
  • Durability: Resistant to corrosion and fire, it ensures longevity with proper maintenance.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing A Roof Decking Material?

  1. Climate Compatibility: Choose a material suitable for your local weather conditions.
  2. Budget-Friendly Options: Research and compare prices to find an affordable material.
  3. Aesthetic Appeal: Select a material that matches your home’s appearance.
  4. Longevity and Maintenance: Opt for durable materials with minimal upkeep requirements.
  5. Roof Decking Cost: Consider material, labor, and other costs when creating a budget.
  6. Energy Efficiency: Pick a material that improves thermal performance for energy savings.
  7. Protection Against Weather Elements: Ensure the material can withstand rain, snow, and wind.
  8. Roofing Material Compatibility: Confirm compatibility with your chosen roofing material.
  9. Local Building Codes: Adhere to regulations for proper installation.


Choosing the right material for your roof decking is crucial for its longevity, performance, and appearance. Options like OSB, plywood, and metal decking each have pros and cons. The key is to match your choice with your budget, local climate, and structural needs.

But if you need help determining which decking material is best for your home, don’t worry! All Around Roofing, Siding & Gutters is here to help. With our in-depth knowledge and years of experience, we can guide you through the selection process and recommend the perfect material for your specific needs.

So why take chances with your roof? Trust All Around Roofing, Siding & Gutters to provide the expertise and quality roofing services you need for a roof that will keep your home safe and secure for years. Give us a call today at (937) 902-2839.

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