June 6, 2021
The good thing about modern-day woodworking is that there are several engineered wood products you can choose from for your woodworking projects. One such wood product is particleboard. The particleboard is also referred to as chipboard because it came from wood chips combined with synthetic resin and other binder substances. These combined materials are then pressed and extruded to form particleboards.
Many confuse the particleboard with the strand flakeboard or oriented strand board. Of course, the strand flakeboard is a fiberboard that utilizes machined wood flakes and exhibits greater strength.
Yet, it is different from particleboard, and if you read through this post, you will understand the distinct characteristics of particleboard.
Understanding the Particleboard
As mentioned above, the particleboard is an engineered board, meaning it is a handmade of human technology and ingenuity. It is created by mixing particles of wood or flakes of wood with a specific type of resin. Once combined, the resulting mixture is transformed into a sheet. Manufacturers of particleboard use different types of resins like amino-formaldehyde-based resins, urea melamine resins, resorcinol resins, and phenolic resins.
Particleboard, of course, is less expensive than plywood and conventional wood. It also exhibits a uniform and denser constitution. Since particleboard is cheaper than plywood, it serves as a less expensive alternative for plywood and traditional wood.
You can make particleboard look more appealing by painting it or by coating it with wood veneers. Despite its greater density, it is still the weakest and the lightest of all fiberboards saved for the insulation board, which is lighter than the particleboard. The particleboard is also weaker and less dense than the MDF and hardboard.
Particleboards also come in various densities, so they also vary in density. Of course, the higher density particleboards are more robust and more resistant to screw fastener’s failure.
One downside of using particleboard is that it is susceptible to discoloration and expansion, mostly if you do not cover it with sealer or paint. Hence, it is not advisable to use it outdoors or in places exposed to too much moisture.
Being made of waste wood product, it won’t warp or bow like plywood. Yet, it can swell and tends to be unstable when subjected to water.
The primary usage of particleboard is in the underlay, furniture, and as countertop’s substrate. You can also mill the particleboard using power tools, and it produces moderate tear-out. However, you will find particleboards mostly with veneer finishes. You can also buy particleboards in sizes of 4′ x 8′ panels with thickness ranging from 1/2″ to 1″.
Many woodworkers in dry regions prefer the veneered particleboard over veneered plywood due to its lower cost, stability, and convenience of usage.
Various Types of Particleboard
If ever you decide to use particleboard for your wood project, it will help to know that there are different types of particleboard, depending on how many layers it has, its density, the resin used to manufacture it, and its lamination. The following are the different types of particleboards:
1) Single-layer Particleboard
One type of particleboard is the single-layer particleboard, which consists of uniformly sized wood particles pressed together, resulting in a flat and dense board. You can veneer or plastic-laminate this board, but you can’t paint it. Moreover, it is not waterproof, but it is water-resistant. You can use this board for interior applications.
2) Three-layer Particleboard
You will also find three-layer particleboard that features large wood particles between two layers of small and dense wood particles. The outer layer comes with a more significant amount of resin than the inner layer. Additionally, this type of particleboard comes with a smooth surface and is perfect for painting.
3) Graded-density Particleboard
The graded-density particleboard features a specific layer of coarse wood chips. This layer is then sandwiched by two layers of fine wood particles. You can use this type of particleboard for wooden furniture and making cabinets.
4) Cement-bonded Particle Board
There is also a particleboard type that has magnesium-based cement as its bonding agent. Its cement content is around 60%, while 20% of it consists of wooden shavings, chips, and sawdust. The remaining 20% consists of water.
This type of particleboard is resistant to moisture because of its cement content. It is also not susceptible to termites, rotting, and fire. Moreover, you can use this particleboard for constructing walls, false ceilings, and coverings. You can also use it to make fire-resistant furniture.
5) Melamine Particleboard
You can also buy melamine particleboard, consisting of decor paper infused with melamine affixed to particle board under high pressure and heat. Its wood particles are bonded using wax emulsion and melamine-urea formaldehyde resin.
This particleboard is water-resistant and scratch-resistant. It also features a kaleidoscope of textures and colors. You can use it for furniture, paneling, wall cladding, modular kitchen, and wardrobes.
6) Laminated Particleboard
Laminated particleboard consists of particleboard that has a laminate sheet on its surface. With the addition of the laminate sheet, the particleboard exhibits enhanced aesthetics and added durability.
7) Veneered Particleboard
Particleboard with a thin slice of wood veneer affixed to its surface is called veneered particleboard. You will think that veneered particleboard similar to a natural wooden board, yet, they are more resistant to warping than standard particleboard.
Usage and Applications of Particleboard
Because particleboard is cheaper than plywood and exhibits certain qualities that you will not find in conventional plywood, it has also continuously gained popularity among woodworkers and wood users. Additionally, it is eco-friendly, being made of wood wastes. You can use particleboard as an alternative to plywood or MDF if you want to cut down on your construction expenses. Below are some of the typical applications and usages of particleboards:
Furniture manufacturers have long been using particleboard in their furniture. They use it in manufacturing office and residential furnishings. One type of particleboard frequently utilized by manufacturers is the wood veneer particleboard because it is durable and fits moist environments. So, you will often find this particleboard in bathrooms and kitchen areas. They are used in storage units, countertops, kitchen cabinets, tabletops, dressing units, and wardrobes.
On the other hand, you will find ordinary particleboard utilized in interior furniture like beds, storage units, wardrobes, shoe racks, bookshelves, computer tables, and television cabinets. You will also find particleboards being used in mass-produced office furniture.
Although particleboards may not be the go-to material when building cabinets; yet, it is also suitable for building cabinets if you want to save money. The fact is that you can use particleboards as shelves, jambs, bottoms, backs, and bottoms of cabinets.
Moreover, you will find the finished particleboard even better than that of plywood. You can stain it and finish it with two lacquer coats for optimum finish.
The particleboard is characterized by its stable and flat surface and consistent core. As such, it is perfect for routing detailed designs into it. Many manufacturers also prefer it for creating routed panels and cabinet doors that are perfect for insertion into a wood project.
Using flute knives, raised panel knives, Roman ogee bits, and even a handheld tool with the router, you can cut designs directly into the particleboard’s surface.
When it comes to design, your only limitation is your imagination, given the fact that the particleboard is shapeable enough. Once you’ve cut the designs, you can then paint the doors or panels with enamel paint.
Door’s Core Material
You can also use particleboards as core materials for flush and solid doors. Most manufactured doors use particleboard, for it offers a smooth and flat surface and can bond easily with the door’s skin. It can also hold screw well. Hence, it is perfect for hinges as compared to MDF.
You will also find particleboard used in flooring material for temporary structures. Moreover, you will also find it used for hardwood floor’s covering as extra protection for hardwood. You can also use the laminated particleboard to add aesthetic value to your flooring.
Particleboard had its origin in Germany in 1887. The use, however, of wood veneer can be traced back to ancient times. Over time, particleboard had evolved, and now, you can find graded-density particleboard that contains particles that diminish in size as they get near the surface.
On the plus side, particleboard, aside from being cost-effective, offers many advantages like being smooth and flat, not susceptible to denting or distorting, lightweight, and many more.
However, the downside of using it includes its low strength compared to other types of fiberboards, it is susceptible to warps and damaged, and it is unable to support heavy loads. Nevertheless, its upsides far outweigh its weak points.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.