Engineered wood has become one of the most popular materials in the woodworking industry, and for a good reason. Manufactured wood is affordable, readily available, highly workable/machinable, and has excellent aesthetic qualities.
Moreover, you can now choose from a wide range of engineered wood products from different types of particle board &their uses.
Below, we review the main particle board products, including their uses, to help you pick the right one for your next project.
What are the Main Types of Particle Boards?
The five main types of particle board are;
- Single Layer Particleboard
- Three Layer Particleboard
- Graded Density Particleboard
- Melamine Particle Board
- Cement Bonded Particle Board
What is Particle Board?
Also known as chipboard or low-density fiberboard, particleboard is an engineered wood product manufactured from wood chips and synthetic resin or other forms of binders.
Remember that manufactured wood products are man-made, thus different from a natural wooden board sawn from a living tree.
When was Particle Board Invented
Particleboard was invented in 1887 when Hubbard made so-called artificial wood from wood flour and an adhesive based on albumin.
However, the first instance of mass use of particle board was during world war2 when soldiers on the war front were forced to utilize inferior wood and wood waste to manufacture boats.
Properties of Particle Board
Particleboard shares many features with other engineered wood products, though it’s also unique in some ways. The following are some of the main characteristics of standard particleboard;
- It is an engineered wood product: Particleboard is a man-made wood product made from natural wood products bonded with synthetic resin.
- Main building blocks: Although the building blocks vary, the average chipboard is a waste wood product made from wood chips, fine wood particles, wooden shavings, and sawmill shavings.
- Weight and density: Chipboard is lightweight compared to other manufactured wood products such as plywood and MDF. Of course, it’s also lighter than solid wood.
- Strength: Unfortunately, particleboard is not very strong and thus cannot support heavy loads. Both plywood and MDF are stronger than particleboard. Even OSB is stronger than particleboard. A low strength rating means particleboard isn’t very durable.
- Moisture resistance: Particleboards have a low resistance to moisture and warping. However, painting the board can increase its moisture resistance and strength.
- Other properties: Particleboard has excellent sound insulation properties, can be laminated with melamine to make fire-resistant furniture and is eco-friendly.
Particle Board Uses
Particleboard has endless uses in multiple industries, from making profitable woodworking projects to building & construction. The most common applications are;
- Building cabinets
- Building modular kitchen
- Building temporary structures
- Making shoe racks
- Making false ceilings
- Partitioning and wall paneling
- Making wooden furniture
- Used as building materials
- Flooring and flooring underlayment
- Core material for doors
Different Types of Particle Board & Their Uses
There are many types of particle board, some well known and others not so common. The different options mainly vary on constituent materials, how the arrangement of the materials, bonding agents, and the number of layers. The most common types are;
1. Single Layer Particle Board
A single-layer particle board is a thin board comprising wood particles of the same size pressed together. It is a flat and dense board that can be veneered or plastic laminated but not painted.
Single-layer particle boards are water-resistant but not waterproof. They are also not very strong. The low strength and poor moisture resistance qualities make single-layer particle boards ill-suited for outdoor applications.
So, it’s mostly used in interior finishing.
2. Three Layer Particle Board
Three-layer particle boards are essentially several single-layer particleboards bonded together. Thin layers of large wood particles are sandwiched between two layers of small, dense wood particles, forming a stronger, more durable board.
The outer layers have more resin than the inner layers. Three-layer particle boards are stronger, thus applicable in a wider variety of projects, indoors and outdoors. They are characterized by a smooth and flat surface that’s great for painting.
3. Graded Density Particle Board
Graded density particle board comprises three main layers, i.e., a layer of coarse wood chips sandwiched between two layers of softer wood particles.
Therefore, it’s much denser than single-layer particleboard but slightly lighter than three-layer particleboard. The dense board has many applications.
For instance, many woodworkers use it in cabinetry and furniture making. In addition, graded density particleboard has a few applications in construction. It also makes an excellent material for DIY woodworking.
4. Melamine Particle Board
The next four types of particle board are significantly more common than the first three. And at the top of the list is melamine particle board or melamine boards. Melamine boards are a type of laminate.
Melamine laminates are made by molding a melamine/formaldehyde combination with melamine urea-formaldehyde resin to form a durable plastic by applying a certain amount of pressure-per-square-inch to the laminate.
The amount of pressure applied depends on the classification of the laminate. Melamine sheets are low-pressure laminates.
The sheets are rarely used alone. Instead, the melamine sheets are applied to particle board, plywood, and other manufactured wood to form a melamine board.
Melamine boards are durable, scratch-resistant, moisture-resistant, stain-resistant, and easy to clean. They are often used in kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, office furniture, display counters, and flooring.
Read More: Melamine vs MDF
5. Cement Particle Board
Also popular as cement-bonded particle board, Cement Particle Board (CSP) is a relatively new building material comprising wood shavings, high-quality cement, and additives.
Small wooden particles are used as filler instead of sand and gravel. Although the wood particles reduce the density of the concrete, wood fibers create bulk reinforcement that significantly improves the material’s tensile strength.
Standard CSP contains 65% cement content, 24% wood particles, 8% water, and 2% hydration additives (typically magnesium-based).
Common uses of cement-bonded particle boards include wall sheathing and partitions, hinged facade systems, roofing systems, floors, and formwork.
6. Laminated Particle Board
A laminated particle board is essentially a composite board with a plastic laminate paper pasted over its surfaces. The laminate paper can be embedded on one side or both sides.
Laminate boards with laminate paper on just one face are known as one-sided laminate boards, while those with laminate paper on both faces are called double-sided particle boards.
A laminated particle board is highly moisture resistant and impact resistant. In fact, it outperforms plywood in the two categories. It also has higher plasticity, thus resisting cracking more.
This plywood substitute is also very strong. Only Medium Density Fiberboard and High-Density Fiberboard are stronger and denser.
Common applications of laminated particle boards include wall slabs, door boards, flooring, furniture, and interior decorations.
7. Veneered Particle Board
Finally, one of the most popular types of chipboard is wood veneer, better known as veneered particle board.
Wood veneers are thin slices of natural wood, typically less than 1/40-inch thick, pressed onto or laminated to thicker core materials, such as plywood, particle board, and MDF.
The result is extremely strong manufactured boards that can easily replace thick hardwood lumber. Indeed, like a natural wooden board, a veneered particle board can be plain sawn, quarter sawn, or rift sawn to produce many different grain patterns.
Applications of wood veneer include building and construction, doors, wood cabinets, and furniture. It’s also commonly used in interior finishing and flooring as an alternative to paint grade wood for cabinets.
Is chipboard the same as Oriented Strand Board (OSB)?
No, chipboard is not the same as Oriented Strand Board. Although the two are made using the same materials and similar compression technology, OSB wood strands are compressed in specific orientations to achieve a particular goal. In contrast, orientation doesn’t matter in the chipboard manufacturing process.
What are the grades of particle board?
Particleboard is available in five primary grades; A, B, C, D, and G1S. Grade A particle boards are the best. They have few knots, burls, and unnoticeable patches. The quality reduces gradually down the list, with Grade D particles being particularly poor and sometimes called factory seconds. G1S boards are “good on one side” boards.
Which is better? Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) or particleboard?
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is superior to particleboard. For one, MDF is denser and stronger than the average particle board. MDF is also more durable. Additionally, MDF has a smoother surface because it’s made from wood grains of the same size, whereas particleboard is made from wood chips of different sizes and thus rarely has smooth surfaces.
What about staining? Which one takes stain better? When it comes to staining, MDF takes stain more evenly and consistently compared to particleboard. Due to its dense and uniform composition, MDF absorbs stain more uniformly, resulting in a smoother and more attractive finish.
What are the different names for particle boards?
Particle board is also commonly called chipboard or low-density fiberboard (FSB). However, there are many particle boards, including single-layer particle boards, three-layer particle boards, graded density particle boards, melamine particle boards, and veneered particle boards.
What is the thin particle board called?
The thinnest particle board is the single-layer particle board. Single-layer particleboard is a thin board comprising wood particles of the same size. It is a flat and dense board that can be veneered or plastic laminated but not painted.
What is particle board used for?
Particle board has many applications in many different industries. However, the most common applications are building kitchen cabinets, building modular kitchens, building temporary structures, making shoe racks, making false ceilings, partitioning and wall paneling, and making wooden furniture.
How to seal particle board
To seal particle board, you’ll need to use a bonding agent such as wood glue or contact cement. Once the surface is ready, apply a thin layer of your chosen bonding agent with a brush. Smooth it out evenly and let it dry overnight. Once the adhesive has dried, you can use several layers of polyurethane varnish to seal the particle board. Read our article on how to seal particle board sealer for more information.
What is pressed wood called?
Pressed wood is called press wood. It has no other name. The term refers to a special type of engineered wood used in furniture, building, and construction. Presswood is made from wood shavings, wood veneers, and other particles. Some are also made from wood fibers and sawdust. The materials are compressed and bonded with an adhesive under heat and pressure to form a very strong manufactured board.
Is particle board wood?
Yes, particle board is a manufactured wood product made by compressing waste wood chips and combining the chips with synthetic binders or other appropriate binders. However, if you’re wondering if it’s solid wood, the answer is no. Manufactured wood is human-made, whereas solid wood is sawn from live trees.
Can particleboard be used for walls?
Yes, particle board is a popular material for interior walls as the birds are strong, weather-resistant, and fairly durable. So, you can find particle boards in unfinished basements, utility rooms, and other indoor structures. Moreover, particle board walls are easy to finish and often mimic real walls once finished.
How much is particle board?
Particle board prices vary widely, depending on the type of particle board, constituent wood products, type of binder, and many other factors, including your location. However, generally, 5/8 commercial particle board costs $5 to $10, industrial particle board costs $15 to $25, while laminated particle board costs $25 to $50, depending on the quality.
Read: How to stain particle board?
There are at least seven main types of particle board. These are single-layer particle boards, three-layer particle boards, graded density particle boards.
Other types are melamine particle boards, cement-bonded particle boards, laminated particle board, and veneered particle board.
The different types of particle boards mainly vary on constituent materials. However, the manufacturing process is the same.