Can You Sand Particle Board?

Particle board is an inexpensive material to make furniture out of. This is why you will find a lot of particle board furniture for cheap in stores. It is a versatile material that can be found in your house in many places. Replacing particle boards with solid wood can be very expensive, instead, refurbishing is a more viable option. Refurbishing furniture requires you to be able to sand it before you can rework its surface. However, since particle board is different from wood, you will need a guide on how to do so. In this article let us explore, can you sand particle board or not. 

To answer the question, can you sand particle board, yes you can. In fact, it is encouraged to sand it before painting it or refurbishing it. To do so you need to sand it with a medium to fine grit sandpaper of around 120-180. Since a particle board does not have a grain direction or orientation, you can sand it using a random orbital sander or a belt sander if you wish. Which makes the job of sanding it much easier. 

A particle board is also called a low-density fiberboard or chipboard, which is engineered using small chips of wood and resins. Sometimes people confuse particle board with OSB or oriented strand board. However, OSB is much more structurally durable compared to a particle board. In fact, OSB has more durability than plywood which is made out of thin sheets of veneer stuck together with glue. Compared to that, the particle board is not as durable as OSB or plywood.

What Happens When You Sand Particle Board?

To understand why you need to sand any engineered board or wood, let us know why we sand at all. Sanding is the process of smoothing out a surface using abrasives. You start off from coarse grit and slowly make your way up to fine grits. You use coarse grit sandpapers to remove any scratches or tool marks. After which you increase the grit of the sandpaper to remove the scratches of the previous abrasive. Slowly you move up to fine-grit sandpaper which smoothes the surface and makes it shiny. That is the primary reason for sanding, however, it also serves the purpose of scuffing a surface to adhere to paints or finishes.

Sanding is an essential part of any wooden project, whether it is making new wooden objects from scratch or refurbishing older ones. Particle boards are usually covered with a veneer sheet which is a thin shaved-off layer of wood. It is glued onto a particle board or other engineered boards to give them more structural durability and also for providing it with the aesthetics of wood. Since a veneer is a shaved sheet of wood, it acts just as wood does. When you sand a veneer, make sure you don’t use coarse grit sandpaper, it will remove the veneer entirely and reveal the particle board underneath.

If there is no veneer on your particle board and you just need to sand it as it is, then you still need to use finer grit sandpaper of around 120-180 to smoothen it out. You should not use coarse grit abrasives on particle boards as they might remove chips leaving behind dents or bumps. Also, using a random orbit sander will help as there is no grain direction on fibre boards and the speed of a machine sander does not pull off chips. It will also allow paints to adhere to the surface of a particle board with more ease if you scuff the surface by sanding it.

So in essence, if you sand a particle board, you will smoothen its surface and scuff its surface slightly so that glue and paint adhere better to it.

Can You Sand Particle Board Subfloor?

A subfloor is something that you install under the main flooring. It acts as a support and a foundation on which you install finished floors. The subfloor can be anything from a concrete slab to a particle board. People often paint over the particle board subflooring to prolong its life and also improve its durability.

In case you are planning on reworking the subfloor and are wondering whether you can sand it or not, the answer is yes, you can. In fact, it is encouraged to sand particle board subfloor where it might have buckled or swelled. 

People often prep the particle board subfloor by sanding it using a floor edger or belt sander. After which they prime the surface, paint over it, and then install any flooring over that. In case there are pieces missing or holes in the particle board subfloor, use a wood filler. Apply the wood filler using a putty knife and scrape off any excess. Wait for it to dry and then sand it out along with the particle board.

You will also want to cover the seams between the particle boards as well since there will be a few of them covering the entire floor. To do so use a sealant as it will avoid any leakage of moisture between the seams to damage the particle board. Moisture can severely damage particle boards and make them rot or swell up. So to avoid that just fill up the seams with a sealer and wait for it to dry after which you sand the whole subfloor, prime it, and paint once the primer has dried. Two coats of paint will create sufficient protection on the particle board after which you can further install any more flooring over it.

Can You Sand Particle Board Cabinets?

Particle board cabinets come with a veneer or laminated sheet coating. Sometimes you will find that the veneer or laminate has been damaged and there are bubbles underneath it.

To remove these defects and make the veneer or laminate even surfaced, you can sand it. You will want to sand those uneven areas to even the surface. To cover up the damaged veneer and to make the surface even you can apply a coat of your preferred wood filler. This thing will cover the areas of the veneer that have been torn off or sanded off.

To sand particle board cabinets, use coarse grit sandpaper on the veneer to remove uneven areas and make them smooth and even. Once the whole cabinet has an even surface, you can switch to fine-grit sandpaper to scuff the piece. Once the areas that have been filled dried off, it is time to apply a primer on the surface after which you can paint the particle board cabinets.

Can You Make Particle Board Smooth

You need to sand a particle board if you are planning on refurbishing it. You want the surface to be smooth and even so you need to sand it with fine-grit sandpaper. Whether it has a veneer, laminate, or nothing on top of it, you still need to sand it if you want to paint over it.

Due to the nature of the material, a particle board, regardless of how finely you sand it, will not become completely smooth as wood does. However, it can become smooth enough for you to work on. So can you make particle boards smooth? Yes, you can by sanding it. Will it be as smooth as wood? No, it won’t.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint directly on a particle board?

No, you need to sand it first, then apply a primer, after which you can apply a coat or two of paint. If you directly paint on a particle board, it will be flaky and torn.

Can you sand directly on a particle board?

Yes, you can, you just need to use fine-grit sandpaper. You can also use a random orbit sander which will make the surface of the particle board smooth. Since the particle board is made from wood chips it does not have wooden grain, so using a random orbit sander is actually beneficial as it saves time and sands the surface of the particle board smoother.

Can you paint a particle board cabinet after sanding it?

Yes, you can paint on a particle board cabinet after sanding it, but be sure to apply one or two coats of your preferred primer first. 

What is the difference between a laminate and veneer top particle board?

A laminate top particle board is covered in a sheet of laminate which is a plastic material made to mimic wood. Meanwhile, a veneer is made by shaving a sheet of wood, so it is actually wood. This also means it acts like wood meanwhile laminate is just a sheet of plastic so it acts like how a plastic would.

What grit sandpaper should you use for sanding particle board?

You need to use fine-grit sandpaper to sand a particle board.

Final Thoughts

If you were planning on sanding a particle board and were not sure whether it will work or not, this article will have definitely cleared your whole confusion. With the help of this guide, you can refurbish older furniture and save tons of money on buying new ones. With just some care and love your old furniture can last longer and look even better.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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