What to use for walls? Plywood is so high right now

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Forum topic by mcg1990 posted 02-07-2015 12:52 AM 1610 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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158 posts in 716 days

02-07-2015 12:52 AM

The title says most of it, but I’ll elaborate. My shop isn’t large, and the ceilings are low, so I’ve estimated that I’ll need 25 4×8 panels of whatever it is I decide upon.

I pretty much can’t afford any 1/2 plywood, so I’m stuck between either 1/4 ply (~$12) or 1/2 OSB (~$7). I’d really like to paint it white, so the 1/4 ply would look much better, but I don’t want to be knocking holes into it whenever I spin around with a long piece of wood. Is this much of an issue? FWIW I don’t care about having to find studs, so I don’t require my walls to be thick enough to be able to support weight on their own. What I do care about is cost and aesthetics. My local lumber yard has OSB which is somewhat smoothed on one side so it doesn’t look so bad painted, but still, pained OSB is painted OSB.

What would you guys suggest? Are there options that I’m missing?

19 replies so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


684 posts in 2696 days

#1 posted 02-07-2015 01:10 AM

I would recommend the OSB of the two options you’ve identified. I’d recommend you prime the OSB with a good OIL-BASED primer as this will probably not lift the OSB’s flakes as badly as straight latex paint or water-based acryliic alkyd primers.

1/4” plywood will have too much flex between the studs, so you may end up with wavy walls and there is a much greater chance of a punch through if you hit the wall with something accidentally.

As another option that may fall within your budget, have you thought about using MDF? Nice painting surface and you might be able to afford the 3/4” thickness. Just a thought . . .


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View patcollins's profile


1419 posts in 2288 days

#2 posted 02-07-2015 01:15 AM

I used the cheapest paneling they had at Lowes, it is basically cardboard with a fake white wood face on it. It looks pretty good. While it is not all that strong it is fairly tough and damage resistant. Best thing there was no painting, no drywall mudding and taping to do, just stick it up and be done with it.

View crank49's profile


3979 posts in 2394 days

#3 posted 02-07-2015 01:26 AM

I’m using OSB for mine. Not especially pretty, but cheap and durable.
You can, skim the surface with drywall filler and then the paint looks a little better.
But, I’m just using it straight.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 645 days

#4 posted 02-07-2015 03:09 AM

If your talking about sheathing the inside of your shop why not use drywall/shtrk? Use ply wherever you’ll be hanging tons of stuff. You can also block between any stud where you may decide to hang other junk latrer on in the game. OSB has a rough sort of bumpy texture, smooth good lumpy bad when it comes to dust settling making cleaning more of a drag. It may sound bleh, but bright white latex aids in illumination and making walls slipperier to bad Mr. Dust Bunny.

-- I meant to do that!

View Tom Clark's profile

Tom Clark

88 posts in 2444 days

#5 posted 02-07-2015 03:38 AM

Actually I think OSB painted white looks just fine. The white really brightens up the shop. Unpainted looks like a dungeon. It is nice that you can hang anything anywhere, and it really is cheap. My idea was to go with cheap paneling, but that seems to have disappeared many years ago. What I found today started at $20 a sheet and it was crap.

Besides, after awhile you will not see that much left of your walls and you will have stuff hanging everywhere.

-- Tom

View ChuckC's profile


821 posts in 2358 days

#6 posted 02-07-2015 03:45 AM

Based on your requirements I’d say sheetrock. It’s cheap and easy to hang.

View MinnesotaMarty's profile


82 posts in 641 days

#7 posted 02-07-2015 03:56 AM

I sheetrocked mine and then fire taped seams and screws. then I mixed a bunch of old latex wall paint I had laying around. Then purchased a 5 gallons of white from Menards. It turned out as a light tan. I think it looks good. I insulated and wired first.

-- I can see the cheese heads from here and it is great.

View mcg1990's profile


158 posts in 716 days

#8 posted 02-07-2015 05:20 AM

Thanks for the input everyone. I think I’m going OSB, and am now deciding between a simple good process of priming and painting, or priming → skimming → painting. However I can’t find any good tutorials/videos on this, and people on other forums are saying skimming adds a lot of cost, but I’ve no idea how much of a cost! I’ll keep researching in the morning.

Thanks again. The info is really appreciated.

View splatman's profile


546 posts in 822 days

#9 posted 02-07-2015 05:24 AM

How ‘bout OSB + Drywall? Combine the advantages of both. The OSB allows you to screw anything anywhere. You may still need to aim for the studs when you hang real heavy things, like cabinets. The drywall will offer a smooth surface for paint. The OSB+DW combo will also be more resistant to damage than either material alone. When you install the electrical boxes, be sure to set them out 1”.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1358 days

#10 posted 02-07-2015 03:29 PM

I think you’ll put boards thru 1/4” ply. I’d go with the osb.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2345 days

#11 posted 02-08-2015 01:09 AM

I made the walls of my shop of Masonite painted gloss white. I would recommend that or Sheetrock.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View emart's profile


416 posts in 2051 days

#12 posted 02-08-2015 01:23 AM

OSb is the way to go it’s cheap and easy to install. realistically your shop doesn’t need to be pretty to work my shed just has whatever cheap white paint i could get my hands on so it would reflect more light on the inside.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2620 posts in 2532 days

#13 posted 02-09-2015 02:53 AM

It looks like you are going with OSB. Note that OSB is stronger than the same thickness of plywood. If you are doing this in a garage that has a header across the door opening, be sure to consult with your local building safety people as to whether that is to code. You may have to put a post in the middle of that header, for seismic bracing, which may require changing the door(s). An option for coating the OSB would be texturing it. Some people call it “popcorn”. It does tend to collect dust, though. You can buy an inexpensive hopper and do it yourself. It will cover the OSB’s texture. It will also provide for some acoustic deadening, and scatter light for a more universal illumination.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View firefighterontheside's profile


13100 posts in 1280 days

#14 posted 02-09-2015 03:30 AM

I doubt you’ll put anything thru the 1/4, a lot of shops have drywall. but why not use the osb. It’s cheaper and you’ll be able to hang anything anywhere.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View hotbyte's profile (online now)


826 posts in 2399 days

#15 posted 02-09-2015 03:38 AM

Going through something similar. I’m using OSB and priming with KILZ and painting.

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