Is particle board strong?

How strong is particle board?


How strong is particle board? We get this question so many times that it seems like we should have a whole book on this. But truthfully, that is not needed since the answer is an easy one.

Particle board is not strong.

At least not as strong as plywood or MDF with which it is usually compared.

Plywood is made of perpendicularly placed hard wood laminate sheets which are then glued and pressed together. The strength of plywood comes from the strength of the wood. Along with that, since the grains are perpendicular in alternate sheets, that provides extra strength and grip to plywood. This is because, if you have ever noticed how a wood breaks, you will realize that it breaks along its grains. Now, if one sheet has grains along one axis and the next sheet has grains in perpendicular axis, if one sheet tries to break, the second one will stop that from happening.

MDF is made using highly compact, pulverized fibers which are mixed with adhesives. This again makes sure that the strength comes from this entire mix. Thicker the MDF, stronger it becomes. But in this case, a lot of strength comes from the adhesive itself hence its strength may not be as good as plywood if the adhesive used is weak.

Particle board on the other hand is made using chips, mixed with adhesive and pressed together. This ensures that even if the adhesive is strong enough, due to the size of chips, it will not be able to provide a lot of strength to the board. Chips themselves have no strength since they are a mix of small pieces of waste wood.

How strong is particle board?

There are several test results for comparing strength of particle board with that of MDF. On an average, for the same thickness, most of the tests give particle board at least 20-30% less tensile strength compared to MDF. And we are not even comparing it to HDF or plywood which are much better than MDF.

Strength when calculated for the same density of MDF and particle board also shows particle board to be significantly lesser in quality.

So should we use particle board?

Every material has its uses. Particle board is cheap. In fact, if you ignore what some big brands charge for furniture made of particle board, you can get it at very low prices as you can also see in our comparison engine if you compare rates of plywood furniture with particle board. Hence, it’s a good material to use for mass market things which require less strength. Places like office cubicles or furniture which is used only for a couple of years can be made using particle board. Apart from that, we see no reason why particle board should be used specially for residential interiors.

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