When it comes to the subflooring, it used to be that you had basically two options: plywood and OSB. While both of these materials can work well, there is also a third option to consider – Advantech. If you’re planning on installing a subfloor, then you should consider the merits of Advantech vs. plywood.
Let’s take a look at the respective strengths and weaknesses of each flooring system, and how to choose the right one for your project.
What is Plywood?
Plywood is the traditional material used for subfloor construction and has been popular for many decades. Plywood gets its name from the many thin layers – called ‘plies’ – that comprise it.
The plies are glued together while having their wood grains alternated 90 degrees to one another. This is called cross-graining and is helpful in reducing expansion and contraction and increasing the dimensional stability of the plywood.
There are many types and varieties when it comes to plywood – including different softwood, hardwood, moisture-resistant, fire-retardant, and pressure-treated. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses, and they are used for a variety of different applications including subflooring, single-layer flooring, wall, roof, and floor sheathing, as well as concrete formwork.
Plywood is prominent in structural applications and can handle plenty of stress and full weather exposure. This makes an ideal material for use in subflooring – as it will inevitably be exposed to moisture and extreme temperatures.
What is Advantech?
Advantech is a specialized product made by Huberwood specifically for building subfloors – and features a combination of high moisture resistance, durability, and strong nail holding power.
The Advantech flooring system uses engineered wood panels comprised of wood flakes bonded together with a special polyurethane adhesive resin. The resulting product is highly durable and moisture resistant and resists swelling, cupping, and delamination.The panels are built to a higher standard than typical plywood, and provide a higher level of shear resistance and added strength. Self-spacing tongue and grooves come built into the panel edge – making installation a breeze.
All of these features come at an added cost – Advantech flooring comes at a premium price when compared to plywood, so you’ll need to determine whether the added cost is worth it for your particular project.
Plywood vs. Advantech – Comparison
Comparing plywood and Advantech requires looking at several different metrics – including performance, cost, and how it functions as a subfloor. Many of the relevant comparisons can be found in Huberwood’s brand brochure, which includes the results of their comparison testing.
Advantech will cost you significantly more than traditional plywood, although the price difference will depend somewhat on your region as well as fluctuations in plywood prices. Plywood tends to fluctuate in price more than Advantech, which tends to be fairly stable in terms of price.
Advantech is designed to be incredibly moisture resistant – and even quality plywood can’t hold a candle to it in terms of water resistance. Due to the polyurethane resin contained inside it, Advantech is nearly 100% waterproof, while even high-quality plywood will absorb some water given enough moisture exposure over time.
Deflection refers to the bending strength or stiffness of the material. Advantech is designed to be far stiffer than plywood, which is helpful for subfloor construction.
Advantech flooring also has more bending capacity and takes more weight to flex it, which results in a stronger and more durable subfloor.
Advantech can bear significantly more weight than its plywood and OSB counterparts, making it ideal for subflooring and other construction applications. It’s structural 1 rated, which means it can be used for wood sheathing panels such as those found on shear walls and roofing.
Fastener withdrawal refers to the force required to withdraw a fastener from a given material. In other words, how well it holds a nail in place.Advantech has superior fastener withdrawal values to both plywood and OSB, making it the superior choice for long-lasting subfloors.
Ease of Use
Plywood is not the easiest material on earth to work with, as cutting it can result in tear outs, kickback, and splintering. You don’t need to worry about this with Advantech, as it has less of a tendency to split and tear out.
Squeaky subfloors might not be the first thing you think of when comparing materials, but it’s actually an important consideration as squeaky floors are a major complaint in many houses.
Advantech sells a heavy-duty foam-gel formula which when used in conjunction with their flooring panels offers you a subfloor assembly backed by the industry’s only squeak-free guarantee. As far as I’m aware no plywood subflooring manufacturer offers such a guarantee, so score this as another point for Advantech over traditional plywood.
Advantech’s pre-printed fastening guide as well as precisely engineered tongue and groove profile ensures a fast and easy installation speed. Traditional plywood doesn’t come with pre-made tongue and groove profiles, so installation will generally take longer when working with plywood.
Plywood can be found in a nearly infinite number of sizes, while Advantech is only sold in 5 different panel sizes. This can be an issue if you need a very specific size for your subfloor.
Advantech vs. Plywood: Which is Best for You?
The fundamental decision on whether to use Advantech or plywood for your project will depend on whether the added cost of Advantech makes sense to you.
Depending on the cost of plywood in your locale, Advantech can cost as much as double what traditional plywood does. This can either be a non-issue if you have the budget for it, or it can be cost-prohibitive in some cases.
Advantech subfloors are going to outlast and outperform plywood in nearly every single way, so the real decision you’ll need to make will be based on whether you think the added cost is justified.
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