What is Particle Board Made of?

Particle Board

Engineered Wood Products (EWPs) have become popular wood products nowadays because of the many advantages of their use. One such EWP is particleboard, which has grown in popularity recently because of its practical applications in woodworking. The history of particleboard began in Germany when in 1887, Hubbard created a type of artificial wood out of a mixture of wood flour and adhesive under high pressure and temperature. Nevertheless, it was Max Himmelheber who was instrumental in making the very first modern particleboard sheet.

Particleboard has evolved since then, and, at present, there are particleboards you can use for many applications. Nevertheless, only a few people are confident enough to say they genuinely know what particleboard is. So, to fill you in on particleboard, here is a straightforward discussion about its applications and advantages.

What is Particleboard?

Just like other engineered wood products, particleboard does not exist in nature. It is a composite wood or manufactured wood made from natural wood. Particleboard gets manufactured from sawmill shavings, wood chips, and sawdust. These wood particles and shavings are pressed and extruded with the addition of a synthetic resin to bind them and form a particle board. 

Particle board, of course, is the least costly among the primary engineered wood products in the market today. It is also the least robust and dense among the primary engineered wood products.

As mentioned, particleboard gets wrought in wood fibers combined with other substrates. These wood fibers usually include shredded solid wood and other residuals left over from solid wood board production. 

Many tend to confuse the particleboard with oriented strand board. Yet, it is different from OSB, which uses machined wood flakes. 

Particle board is a cheaper alternative to MDF and plywood. It is also more uniform compared to plywood and conventional wood. Many opt for particle boards to minimize the cost of woodworking materials. 

Despite being denser than plywood and traditional wood, it is still the weakest and lightest fiberboard type, saved for the insulation board. MDF is also denser and more robust than particleboard. Nevertheless, particle boards come in different densities, with the higher densities having better resistance and strength.

One particleboard type is paperboard wood, wrought in a layered paper, pressed together under intense heat along with the adhesive to develop a more robust EWP. Thus, paperboard wood is stronger than ordinary particleboard. 

How Is Particle Board Manufactured?

The manufacturing of particleboards can be a bit complicated. It begins by gathering wood chips and combining them with resins. Afterward, the mixture gets molded together to form sheets. Then, these very raw sheets of particleboard pass through a disc chipper. 

The disc chipper feature mounted knives for chipping the boards, and it is an effective way of producing more reliable and consistent sizes of wood chips. The wood chips are then dried, while the larger ones get discarded.

During this manufacturing step, dyes, waxes, and wetting agents get added to the mixture if the desired result must be moisture resistant. Once dried, a fine mist of resin gets sprayed onto the raw particle board sheets. This process makes the particle board more resistant to water but not utterly non-susceptible to moisture effects.

Once the particleboard gets misted, the chips get layered, forming a carpet. Afterward, this carpet of particleboard gets separated into individual blankets. 

After that, the blankets are cold pressed under immense heat and pressure to solidify the glue utilized on the particleboard. Once the particle boards cool down, they are trimmed and sanded.

Types of Modified Particleboards

During the manufacturing process, manufacturers can modify particleboards by enhancing their properties depending on the intended applications of the particleboards. Manufacturers can create moisture-resistant, fire-retardant, or acoustically sound particleboards through enhancement. Hence, you will find the following different variants of particle boards in the market today:

1) Three-layered Particleboard

The three-layered particleboard features finer layers of wood flakes made of processed solid birch, alder, beech, and pine. These manufactured wood flakes get positioned outside the particleboards. The central portion of the boards, however, are made of cheaper and coarser chips. 

2) Moisture Resistant Particleboard

To make the particleboard more resistant to moisture, the resin called melamine-urea formaldehyde gets used together with a wax emulsion. With this enhancement, the particleboard becomes more resistant to moisture and water.

3) Cement-bonded Particleboard

The cement-bonded particleboard utilized cement to bind the different wood chips resulting in a more resistant product against moisture, sound, impact, rot, and fire. 

Advantages of Using Particle Board

If you intend to use particleboard for your woodworking projects, it will be best to know the following advantages of its use:

  • The use of particle board is more cost-effective than other options. The reason is that it is less expensive than MDF and plywood. Besides, you can find laminated particle boards that could provide an excellent decorative appearance to your projects at a low price.
  • Particle boards do not readily distort or dent.
  • You can easily transport fiberboard from one place to another because it is not very heavy compared to other engineered wood products.
  • Concerning its holding capacity for a screw, particleboard does better than MDF. Hence, it is a popular option for making furniture that uses screws for assemblage.
  • Particleboard also doesn’t need elaborate or meticulous maintenance. It is easy to maintain and clean.
  • It offers a flat and smooth surface for sticking wood veneer and decorative laminates. Thus, it provides a good surface for creating aesthetically pleasing designs. For this reason, particleboard gets often used for furniture mass production.
  • Particleboard exhibits excellent thermos-acoustic insulation characteristics and properties. Hence, you can use it in the auditorium’s false ceilings and speakers. 
  • Particleboard can be eco-friendly because it helps conserve natural resources by recycling wood chips, wood shavings, and sawdust. Nevertheless, the resin used in binding the wood chips and shavings can be harmful to the environment. 

Disadvantages of the Use of Particle Boards

Your knowledge of particleboard will never be complete without knowing the following disadvantages of its use. Hence, here is a rundown of the downsides of the use of particleboard:

  • Particleboards can’t support higher loads because of their low strength. Compared to other engineered wood products, it has lower density and can get damaged during transport.
  • Compared to MDF and plywood, it has less durability.
  • Moisture can make particle boards warp and expand. It may also alter its color during extreme weather conditions.
  • Particleboards may contain toxic chemicals like urea formaldehyde resin. This resin can gas out while you cut or drill the particle board. Thus, it contains toxins that could harm you and your family. 

Applications of Particleboards

Particleboards have several applications in woodworking. It is perfect for interior and furniture-making applications. Nevertheless, the standard particleboard is not recommended for damp areas with high humidity. 

Many manufacturers of furniture popularize particleboard. One company that popularized the use of particleboard in furniture is IKEA. IKEA got a reputation for providing high-quality particleboard and MDF furniture at low prices. They supply furniture with large pieces like desks, tabletops, bookshelves, and TV shelves. 

Solid wood furniture is more attractive than particleboard furniture. Yet, you can also find particleboards with thin veneer sheets or plastic laminate. These particleboards, of course, look like genuine solid wood but cost less. Hence, you will discover that particleboard furniture is less expensive and more attractive if you’re on a budget. 

Particleboards find many applications for interior projects. You can use it for attaching door hinges for cabinets and many other interior design applications. They can hold screws well and, thus, are perfect for these applications. 

Workability of Particleboard

Particleboard is relatively easy to work with. However, you need more than a screw to connect two particleboard pieces. You need glue or adhesives, special screws, and fasteners to hold particleboards together.

During installation, particleboard is less forgiving than solid wood and plywood. The reason is that particleboard tends to crack up under extension stress because it is less elastic. 

Particleboard is also susceptible to discoloration and expansion due to humidity. Hence, you will only see particleboard used indoors. Yet, you can paint it or seal it to enable it to last and retain its appearance and shape. 

The melamine or veneer covering of particleboard may also chip when you cut it. Thus, scoring your cutline with a knife will help create a smoother cut. Besides, you can use masking tape to cover the cutline when you cut. Melamine covering, of course, doesn’t necessitate painting. It can also be very stable if it is well manufactured. 

Furthermore, ensure you work in a ventilated area when working with particleboard. Ensure likewise that your dust collection system works well because cutting it may produce billows of sawdust containing toxic chemicals like formaldehyde. 


Before you use particleboard for your projects, it will be best to understand its properties and the pros and cons of its use. This way, you can ensure that it will work best for your projects. Of course, given an unlimited budget, you will likely not opt for particleboard. You will instead go for high-quality solid wood. 

Yet, there will be instances when you are short of budget and need to niggardly spend for woodworking materials. In such a case, you might use particleboard. Of course, after reading this post, you will be mindful of the pros and cons of using particleboard. Hence, you can wisely decide whether to use it in your woodworking projects.  

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