2023 Roof Decking Materials Cost, Installation, Pros & Cons

Typical Price Range To Install a new Roof
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Roof decking is a must have for a solid roof.

This unseen but significant roofing system component does more than support the covering. It also ensures the entire structure is secure and sturdy, keeping the house safe and dry. 

What Is The Decking On A Roof?

If you’ve ever taken a look at the components of a roof, you may have spotted something called decking.

Decking, which you can also call sheathing, is essentially a base layer that props up your roofing materials.

It supports shingles, underlayment, and other roofing, so they can be installed properly.

Roof decking also provides structural strength to the roof, so it’ll stay in place no matter what Mother Nature throws its way.

How Much Does Roof Decking Cost?

The cost of decking a roof can depend on many variables.

The size of the roof itself, the type of material, and the labor costs in your area can influence the final cost.

On average, for a standard 1,500-square-foot roof, you may need to budget between $2,500 and $4,000, which includes both material and labor costs and covers the entire roof area.

Roof Decking Average Cost
Single Sheet $10-$50
Full Installation $2,500-$4,000
Repair/Replacement $300-$3,000

How Much Is A Sheet Of Roof Decking?

For an individual piece of roof decking, this price varies by material.

For example, a 4 x 8-foot sheet of plywood could cost anywhere from $20 to $50, while an Oriented Strand Board (OSB) board of the same size might start off at around $10 and reach up to $20.

Pro Tip: If you want your roof decking to last as long as possible, you must pay attention to ventilation. Moisture build-up in your attic can be extraordinarily damaging and lead to rot and mold. It’s not just the decking that needs protecting, either. Adequate ventilation can also help regulate the temperature inside the home. 

Average Roof Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $4,190 - $5,740 (For a 1600 sq. ft. Roof)
Low End
High End

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Types Of Roof Decking

Roof decking types fall into many categories – sometimes simultaneously.

Here are the decking types according to differing installation and application methods.

Installation Method

  • Nailed Decking – A traditional method where the decking material, like plywood or OSB, is nailed right to the roof trusses or joists. It’s common for residential buildings.
  • Screwed Decking – Uses screws instead of nails to fit the decking to the roof trusses. This one is common for metal or composite decking and is more often seen in commercial construction.
  • Floating Decking – Involves laying the decking on a framework without directly attaching it to the roof trusses. This method is mostly for concrete and some composite decking materials.


  • Residential Roof Decking – Usually plywood or OSB; it needs to be strong enough to support the roof covering (such as shingles), withstand heavy weather, and be lightweight.
  • Commercial Roof Decking – Often uses heavier materials such as concrete or metal. It needs to support heavier loads and often has more stringent requirements, for example, fire resistance.
  • Decorative Roof Decking – Includes materials like Tongue and Groove, which don’t serve only for structural support but also for their visual appeal, especially in homes with exposed ceilings.
  • Flat Roof Decking – For buildings with flat roofs, this decking is usually concrete or composite. It needs to support the additional weight of water and snow that will accumulate on a flat roof.

Roof Decking Materials

Generally, builders choose between plywood and OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

Plywood is more common because it’s strong and resists moisture, while OSB is more cost-effective.

Metal or concrete may be better for specialty situations like flat roofs or big commercial buildings.

Plywood Decking

Plywood is a great material for decking a roof, thanks to its superior strength and rigidity.

This decking is crafted by gluing together thin layers of wood veneer, with each layer’s grain running crosswise to the adjacent layers.

One can think of plywood as an engineered wood specifically for increased durability. 

More importantly, it won’t easily twist, warp, or shrink despite changes in temperature or humidity.

Plywood typically comes in 4 x 8-foot sheets and varies in thickness from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch – the latter being perfectly fine for most roofing jobs.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) Decking

If you want a more cost-effective way to construct a roof decking, an Oriented Strand Board might work well for saving your budget.

OSB is constructed by combining wood fibers and resin under high heat and pressure, then arranging these layers in a cross-oriented pattern similar to plywood.

This gives OSB its strength while giving it better affordability than plywood.

However, OSB is slightly more susceptible to harm from moisture, so proper roof ventilation is absolutely a must, as well as a good quality underlayment to protect the OSB decking.

Typical Price Range To Install A New Roof Average: $4,190 - $6,740
See costs in your area

Tongue and Groove Decking

Tongue and Groove boards are a unique and stylish solution for exposed ceilings in cabins and other rustic-style homes.

This type of wood decking consists of pieces that neatly fit together; the tongue on one end slots into the groove of the next. 

Not only does this add strength to the roof structure, but it also adds a distinctive, pleasing look to the interior ceiling.

Tongue and Groove are somewhat pricier than alternatives such as plywood or OSB due to their dual use as both structural support and upper finish.

Concrete Decking

Concrete roofing is an ideal material for flat roof structures, whether they’re commercial or residential buildings.

Its sturdiness comes from the combination of concrete and corrugated steel panels, making it reliable for heavy loads and fire resistance. 

Moreover, since concrete has excellent soundproofing and thermal mass properties, a building with a concrete roof will stay cool during summer days and warm during winter nights.

Although concrete roofs are heavier than other types, their solid foundation makes them no less safe.

Its sturdy support system ensures that this kind of roofing remains lasting.

Roof Decking Maintenance And Repair

Keep an eye on your roof, and don’t let seemingly minor issues accumulate.

Mold, water damage, and structural problems can greatly compromise it.

The price for fixing such issues varies depending on the extent of the damage.

Smaller repairs may set you back around $300-$500, while larger ones or even full replacements could cost up to $3,000.

Did you know? Some decking materials have been given a second chance through recycling, and yours might be one of them. OSB, for example, often contains recycled wood. Going green using recycled materials makes your home more eco-friendly and sustainable without loss in quality.

Why Do You Need Roof Decking?

You need to add decking to your roof for several reasons:

Makes for a Flat and Stable Surface

One of the primary reasons for decking is that it creates a flat and stable surface.

Without a sturdy foundation, shingles, tiles, or other roof materials would have nothing to cling to, which means an unreliable and weak structure.

These materials can fit properly and work as intended with an even surface.

Adds Structural Integrity to the Roof

Roof decking plays a big role in adding structural integrity to the roof.

Sturdily fastened to the trusses or joists, it spreads out the weight of the roof materials across the entire construct.

This fortification is specifically beneficial in zones with harsh snowstorms or wind, as it prevents sagging or breakdown under stress.

Acts as a Barrier Against External Elements

The roof deck is the last line of defense from outside forces, like strong winds, heavy rains, and flying debris.

Combined with the underlayment, it makes for a tight seal that safeguards the interior from water damage by keeping moisture out.

This layer of protection is paramount for your and your family’s comfort and the house’s structure.

Unchecked moisture will cause mold and decay and may even lead to catastrophic consequences.

Average Roof Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $4,190 - $5,740 (For a 1600 sq. ft. Roof)
Low End
High End

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Roof Decking Pros And Cons

Benefits of a Roof Deck

  • Roof decking structurally supports the roof. It distributes the roof’s weight and withstands external pressures such as wind or snow; hence the roof remains stable.
  • Roof decking acts as a barrier, protecting the building’s interior from outside elements such as rain, snow, and debris. That way, water cannot seep in to cause mold growth and damage to the roof and walls.
  • Roof decking can help the building conserve temperature much better. Certain materials, like plywood, have insulating properties that maintain indoor temperatures, leading to energy savings and lower bills.
  • Roof decking adds an extra layer of resistance against severe weather. Reinforcing the roof prevents damage from storms, hail, and high winds. This is particularly beneficial in places where extreme weather is a problem since it improves the roof’s ability to survive and endure these conditions.

Disadvantages of a Roof Deck

  • Roof decking installation and materials can be costly, especially for premium materials like Tongue and Groove. Also, repair costs can be significant if it suffers damage.
  • Roof decking, especially materials like OSB, is susceptible to water damage. If the roof is not maintained correctly and the decking gets in contact with moisture, it can lead to rot and mold growth.
  • Roof decking installation is not DIY-friendly. It needs professional know-how. This can add to the overall cost and requires finding a reliable contractor.
  • Replacing roof decking can be disruptive, especially if the entire roof needs removal. This can be inconvenient for the house’s occupants since they may need to find another place to stay.

Pro Tip: If you inspect the roof regularly, you will stay ahead of the extreme weather and the havoc it can wreak. While you don’t need a professional to come out for every inspection, it’s wise to involve an expert eye once per year. They will spot issues before they become expensive repairs quickly, and as an added bonus, they can check the rest of your roof for possible issues.

What Is The Best Type Of Roof Decking?

Plywood has a reputation for being the most robust, most reliable, and moisture-resistant decking, and rightly so.

It comprises multiple layers of wood veneer pressed together to form a structured panel with impressive stability and toughness. 

Still, Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is also worth a look – it’s slightly more budget-friendly than Plywood but is similarly strong and resilient against the weather. 

What Is The Most Common Roof Decking Material?

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) takes the crown as the most common roof decking.

It’s reliable and, more importantly for many, cost-effective.

OSB comes from a unique process that involves laminating wood strands together and then bonding them with resin.

That’s what gives it impressive strength while keeping its price tag low. 

Typical Price Range To Install A New Roof Average: $4,190 - $6,740
See costs in your area

Roof Decking vs Sheathing

Roof decking and sheathing are essentially the same things, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

However, roof decking refers to the flat surface that supports the roofing materials, while sheathing can also be a broader term that can also refer to the panels used on the sides of the building.

Roof Underlayment vs Roof Decking

The roof is a house’s armor; it consists of two main components that defend the home from moisture and wind: underlayment and decking.

The former acts as an extra barrier, providing a layer of water resistance on top of the latter.

The roof decking is the solid foundation for the protective underlayment and other roofing materials.

Is Roof Decking Covered By Insurance?

Homeowners’ insurance policies will often cover the costs of replacing roof decking if it is damaged by a listed peril, like a fire or wind.

However, be aware that certain types of damage, if they come from neglect or general wear, may not grant you insurance coverage.

So take time to review your insurance policy in detail or speak with an agent directly to understand what you are covered for in terms of roof decking damage.

How Long Does Roof Decking Last?

The material you pick for the roof will predominately dictate the longevity of its life.

Plywood and OSB are reasonably durable, with a potential lifespan of about 30 years.

But if you want to guarantee longer-term protection, concrete or metal decking are better options, providing up to 50 years of resilience.

To get the most out of the roof, carry out inspections whenever you have the opportunity, no matter the material.

Did you know? It might come as a surprise that certain decking materials, like gypsum and concrete, can resist fire. If you live someplace where wildfires are frequent, these materials could be your best bet. They can impede the fire from making its way up to the roof of a building.

When Should Roof Decking Be Replaced?

When the roof decking starts showing signs of water damage, rot, or mold, or it seems to be weakening, it’s almost certainly time to get a new one.

Even when you decide to replace the whole roof, it might be good to plan for a new decking as well.

It could save you from future problems when dealing with worn-out old decking. To be sure when exactly to replace the decking, consult a roofing expert.

Average Roof Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $4,190 - $5,740 (For a 1600 sq. ft. Roof)
Low End
High End

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Does A New Roof Need New Decking?

Swapping out an old decking when installing a new roof isn’t always necessary.

As long as the existing decking looks secure and solid, without any visible damage or wear, you can go ahead and use it as the base for the new roof.

However, if you notice some signs of rot or aging and know that the lifespan is ending, it might be a good idea to replace it.

Doing this now instead of later will help you save time and money in the future, as it guarantees a steady foundation for your new roof.

Does Metal Roof Require Decking?

Metal roofs often need decking for installation, though this is not always the case.

The decking gives a sturdy and even base for the metal panels to be placed on and also bolsters the roof’s structure.

But circumstances do exist when metal roofs can be put onto battens instead of the usual decking. 

This method, called a batten/counter-batten technique, calls for mounting the metal panels onto a lattice of battens.

Although this could be more economical, bear in mind details such as insulation and regional construction regulations.

Is Roof Decking Considered Structural?

Undoubtedly, roof decking is not only structural but also integral to a roof’s structural framework.

It’s a bridge between the trusses and joists that make up the framework and the external layer like shingles or metal panels that protect it.

It distributes the weight from the roof’s materials and reinforces its strength to resist external pressures, such as high winds and heavy snowfall. 

Pro Tip: As you plan your roof decking, also take into account the load of the materials that will be installed on top. For instance, if you want heavier tile for added protection, it’s imperative to make sure your underlying structure and decking can bear the burden of the extra mass.

Decked-Out Roof

The roof decking of your home or building is the backbone of its overall structure.

Different materials like plywood, OSB, and concrete provide a base for the roofing materials and add structural stability to the whole set-up. 

While it can be quite expensive, the decking’s protection and dependable strength make it worth the money.

So long as you can keep up with regular maintenance and fix problems with it as soon as possible, your roof decking will stay in good condition for many years.

Typical Price Range To Install A New Roof Average: $4,190 - $6,740
See costs in your area

Author: Leo B
For over 20 years Leo has run a successful roofing business in New England, specializing in metal roofing, as well as cool flat roofing technologies. Having replaced and installed hundreds of roofs in New England, Leo has first hand experience with pretty much every residential roofing material and roofing manufacturer available in the US.
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