Fire codes are evolving to meet the requirements of zero lot line and infill construction. But “meeting fire code” will probably never top the list of trendy topics for residential architects. Everyone is required to do it, and architects have been using gypsum to meet fire code for nearly a century. But there are newer building materials that meet code and deliver added value—lower dead load and wall thickness, lower material/labor costs, and reduced construction time.

These new materials also foster greater creativity. Today’s innovative code-compliant components give architects more design flexibility. For example, using fire-rated OSB sheathing in wall assemblies provides more flexibility in the design of wall openings, plus more options in framing and bracing to meet structural requirements.

Some fire-rated OSB sheathing products reduce labor costs and construction time by eliminating the need to add a layer of gypsum. And they provide a better substrate for securely fastening exterior cladding.

Fire-rated OSB sheathing also delivers impressive strength. Its design values for load/span and shear strength are superior to fire-retardant treated (FRT) wood structural panels of the same thickness.

The newest fire-rated OSB sheathing products install easily, with no special tools or extra components required.

Finally, there’s the issue of weather resistance. Fire-rated OSB sheathing products are classified Exposure 1, certifying that they can withstand normal exposure to moisture during construction. Interior gypsum and FRT plywood must be kept dry.

Meeting fire code will always be a design priority. But now the emphasis is on meeting code while simultaneously saving money and reducing construction time.

To learn more about how fire-rated OSB sheathing is helping architects meet code and achieve much more, visit