The Points On The Board Tour visited builders' merchants across the country.

Strength and cost effectiveness top considerations for builders when purchasing wood panels

Published:  18 September, 2013

JOSB Done, the industry-wide campaign promoting the use of Oriented Strand Board (OSB), has revealed the findings of six months of on the spot research at builders’ merchants across the UK.

As part of its nationwide ‘Points On The Board’ tour, which saw builders from across the country pit their footballing skills against an 8ft by 4ft OSB panel, the JOSB Done team spoke to builders and merchants about their experience of using and selling OSB.

Taking the top spot in builders’ considerations when purchasing wood panels were cost and strength.

Kev Davis, Liberty Roofing Services in Bilston West Midlands, said: “I always use OSB as it’s a strong, good wood panel and cheaper than ply.”

For Dick Bloxham from North Oxfordshire Roofing being able to use a panel like OSB again and again was a key benefit. He said: “I used a lot of OSB not long ago when I was roofing a bungalow. After the job I put it into stock and will use it again on the next one. I find it easier to use than the alternatives and more durable.”

Sustainability and environmental credentials were fairly low on most jobbing builders list of considerations, but for those working for larger organisations it was seen as a key benefit of using OSB.

Mathew Gartell, of Jackson and Jackson in Lancashire, said: “We recently used hundreds of panels in a Green Deal project that saw us remove tin cladding from more than 250 houses, replacing it with OSB, before rendering. OSB is being increasingly specified for a whole range of jobs and has taken over from other panels in a number of applications. I like it myself because it’s strong, hard-wearing and really cost-effective.”

Chris Lee of Markey Construction in Gloucester said: “We use OSB for timber building and affordable housing all the time, as it is TRADA listed and has all the right certification. Overall I can’t think of a reason why we wouldn’t use OSB.”

The survey also found that the majority of builders rate the opinion of their local merchant, with more than twice as many saying that the advice they receive from their merchant would influence what they buy.

For the merchants knowing the best uses of a certain product and its benefits over the alternatives was seen as one of their key offerings. When asked: ‘Do merchants have a role to play in giving the customer information ahead of purchase?’ Carole Fallon, forest products leader at Travis Perkins Walsall, said: “I think it’s important to make customers aware of different products, how they perform and what they’re good for. This is particularly true of wood panels. While wood panels aren’t the most technical items you can find on-site, it’s worth remembering that they all have different properties and some are better than others in certain situations. For example for a roofing job, it’s now really rare for builders in the know to ask for anything other than OSB.”

Speaking about the competition Alastair Kerr, director general for the Wood Panel Industries Federation and spokesperson for the JOSB Done campaign, said: “The Points On The Board nationwide tour has been a real success. The results of our conversations with builders nationwide clearly show that whether a small building and maintenance contractor or a major housebuilder, OSB is increasingly becoming the panel of choice for a whole range of jobs."

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