What is the Best Plywood for Roofing? – 2024 Resource

What is the Best Plywood for Roofing

When choosing the best plywood for roofing, I consider the load-bearing capacity, moisture resistance and durability of the plywood. CDX plywood tends to be a good choice, but other materials like OSB are also usable. Proper installation techniques such as spacing, fastening, sealing, and underlayment are essential for ensuring a reliable and durable roof structure.

Plywood for Roofing – Key Considerations

Load-Bearing Capacity

Roofing plywood must support the weight of roofing materials such as shingles, tiles, or metal panels, as well as withstand snow loads and other weather elements. Ensuring adequate load-bearing capacity is essential to prevent structural issues over time.

Moisture Resistance

Plywood used for roofing must be highly resistant to moisture to prevent rot, mold, and degradation. Moisture can compromise the structural integrity of the roof and lead to costly repairs. Choosing plywood with good moisture resistance is crucial for long-term durability.

Durability and Longevity

Roofing plywood is exposed to harsh weather conditions including rain, snow, UV exposure, and temperature fluctuations. It needs to withstand these elements without warping, delaminating, or deteriorating over time. Durable plywood ensures a longer lifespan for the roof, reducing maintenance costs.

Types of Plywood Suitable for Roofing

CDX Plywood

Definition and Characteristics

CDX plywood is made from layers of softwood veneer bonded together with exterior-grade glue. The “C” and “D” grades refer to the appearance and quality of the veneer surfaces.


It is an economical choice with good strength and durability. The exterior glue provides moisture resistance, making it suitable for basic roofing applications.


The plywood may have visible knots and imperfections due to the lower grade veneers, affecting its appearance and possibly its strength in some cases.

Tongue and Groove Plywood

Definition and Characteristics

These plywood panels feature interlocking edges that fit tightly together, creating a seamless roofing surface.


Tongue and groove plywood enhances stability and reduces gaps between panels, improving overall strength and weather resistance. It is ideal for roofs where a continuous and smooth surface is desired.


Typically more expensive than standard plywood sheets due to the specialized manufacturing process and interlocking features.

Marine Plywood

Definition and Characteristics

Marine plywood is constructed using waterproof adhesive and higher-grade veneers, designed to withstand moisture and harsh environments.


It offers superior resistance to moisture, making it ideal for roofing in coastal or wet climates. Marine plywood is highly durable and maintains structural integrity over extended periods.


Marine plywood tends to be more expensive compared to other plywood types due to its high-quality construction and enhanced properties.

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

Definition and Characteristics

OSB is an engineered wood product made from compressed wood strands and adhesives, oriented in specific directions for strength.


It is cost-effective and strong, with good load-bearing capacity suitable for roofing. OSB panels have uniform dimensions and fewer voids compared to traditional plywood.


OSB is less moisture-resistant than plywood and may require additional treatments or barriers to protect against water infiltration.

OSB vs. Plywood: Which Should You Choose for Your Roof Deck?

Factors to Consider When Choosing Roofing Plywood

Climate and Weather Conditions

Consider the local climate’s impact on plywood performance. Moisture-resistant plywood is essential in humid or rainy climates to prevent water damage and extend roof lifespan.

Roof Pitch and Design

Roof slope affects water runoff and load distribution. Choose plywood appropriate for the roof pitch to ensure proper drainage and structural integrity, especially on flat or low-slope roofs.

Building Codes and Regulations

Ensure the selected plywood meets local building codes and standards for safety and performance. Compliance with regulations is crucial to avoid issues during inspections and ensure long-term reliability.

Installation Tips for Roofing Plywood

Proper Spacing and Fastening

Leave adequate spacing between plywood panels to accommodate expansion and contraction due to moisture changes. Use the correct type and number of fasteners to securely attach plywood to the roof structure.

Sealing and Treatment

Apply sealants or treatments to plywood edges and seams to enhance moisture resistance and durability. Proper sealing prevents water infiltration and extends the life of the roof.


Install appropriate underlayment materials beneath the plywood to provide an additional layer of protection against moisture and weather elements. Underlayment helps to improve insulation and enhance roof performance.