Class Action Dilemmas: Pursuing Public Goals for Private Gain

By Deborah R. Hensler; Nicholas M. Pace et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Thirteen ORIENTED STRAND BOARD HOME SIDING LITIGATION: 1
IN RE LOUISIANA-PACIFIC INNER-SEAL SIDING 2

PROLOGUE

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation is a leading forest products firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. In about 100 facilities throughout the United States, Canada, and Ireland, it manufactures lumber, pulp, structural and other panel products, hardwood veneers, and cellulose insulation. In the early 1980s, Louisiana-Pacific began developing alternatives to lumber for use as home siding. The idea was to develop materials that could be constructed cheaply from wood manufacturing by-products and lower-grade wood. 3 These alternative products were intended to be competitive with the numerous nonwood construction products that were beginning to increase in market share, such as aluminum siding and plastic construction products that are less expensive than more conventional wood products. 4

The product created by Louisiana-Pacific was called "oriented strand board" ( OSB). OSB is a composite product similar to Masonite and is manufactured from wood wafers. 5 OSB panels can be shaped and finished into a variety of end products such as flooring, sheathing, beams, and siding. 6 The base materials for Louisiana-Pacific's OSB are a variety of softwoods, including fastgrowing, low-grade aspen; the product therefore has the potential to reduce demand for rarer old-growth fir or pine trees. The wood is cut into razor-thin chips four inches long by one-half-inch wide. These chips are dried, mixed with wax and resin, laid onto large mats, and formed into panels or strips. As the mixture is laid onto mats, the strands are placed (or oriented) in all directions, giving the board strength and flexibility in all dimensions.

Initially, OSB was used primarily for structural support panels in roofs, floors, and walls. However, Louisiana-Pacific soon developed the product for use as exterior siding. 7 OSB siding has a resin-saturated, preprimed paper overlay on the exposed face (facing the outside environment) that is fused to the core material by heat and pressure. Beginning in 1995, resin-soaked paper was also

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