Wood is a very versatile material which can be used for a vast number of things. While it is very durable, it also can be pretty costly. At times, the cost of the project is not as high as spending on wood. In such cases, there are always alternatives like particle boards. You can use particle boards in a lot of cabinetry projects. Keeping in mind the prices of wood, you too can opt to use it in your projects. In this article, we will discover the ins and outs of this material, and understand that is particle board easy to work with or not.
Particle boards are pretty easy to work with once you know how to do so. It can be cut just as easily as wood, it is very light in weight compared to wood or MDF. Though you are limited by the number of finishes you can use on it. Other than that, using a few simple tricks, you can actually make great use of particle board and save quite a lot of money that can be spent on bigger projects.
Almost all of the cabinetry industry uses particle boards. These are relatively cheap and make the furniture made from them affordable. It is a much more reasonable solution for those who cannot afford expensive wood furniture. IKEA, one of the biggest brands, uses particle boards in all of its projects. So if you have any IKEA furniture at home, there are chances you have handled and seen it before. Some people cleverly use wood and particle board together on projects. They use particle boards in places which will be out of sight, while the places which are in clear view are made of wood.
How Easy is Particle Board to Work With?
Particle board is made from wood, so it has all the properties that wood has. However, it also acts very differently from it. So the way you work also will be slightly different. Usually, particle boards come covered in laminate or veneer. These provide an aesthetic look to the dull visuals of a particle board while also increasing its stability and strength slightly. So when working with particle boards you have to keep in mind you have to change your techniques to accommodate the veneer or laminate.
Cutting particle board is pretty simple. The top cover layer of laminate plastic or veneer is prone to chipping or splintering. However, there is an easy workaround to prevent it from happening. By using tapes over the lines where you will cut will give you better results. Also using a blade with a higher tooth count will give you cleaner cuts on material like particle board.
Also, fastening a particle board is also slightly different from how you would fasten normal wood. It requires coarser screws and requires you to drill slightly narrower or tighter pilot holes. Not to mention, you should make sure not to over-screw into particle board as it loosens the fastener. The use of dowels is better for this material. Also, particle boards absorb moisture on a much higher scale than wood. So you will have to use more glue when using dowels or screws into it.
Disadvantages of Particle Board
While being made from wood chips and dust, particle boards are very weak compared to the real deal. It is weaker than MDF and plywood too since the density is much lower. While commonly referred to as particle board, it is low-density fiberboard or LDF for short. So you are very limited in what kind of projects you can use it in. So any project that will involve a particle board holding a lot of weight on it is out of the question.
It also flexes a lot, even with the slightest weight, it flexes very easily. It requires support at very short intervals for it to hold any weight at all. So there the flex span of the particle board is also very limited. Movement is one of the biggest weaknesses of particle boards, so furniture that is moved fairly frequently will end up weakening the particle board.
Lastly, driving screws in the edge of the particle board can cause it to splinter. Compared to that, when you drive screws into the face side of the particle board, they hold on pretty firmly due to the nature of the material and its construction.
MDF vs Particle Board
MDF and particle board are both manufactured in a similar fashion. The base materials for both are the same, wood chips and sawdust, adhered together with glue and resin. Then weight is applied to the materials to make them flat across and create the shape of a flat board. MDF is denser and much more refined compared to particle board. You can actually see the difference visually between how dense MDF is compared to particle board or LDF.
Being dense, MDF is heavier in weight compared to particle board. The weight difference isn’t as big as it is with solid wood. Particle board being less dense is lighter in weight, but it also means that it is not as durable as MDF. Both have different flex spans, with LDF or particle board not having a lot. So you need to have support in between intervals when using particle board. Otherwise, with even the slightest weight it ends up bending or flexing.
MDF on the other hand, being dense as it is, has a bigger flex span. Both of these are usually covered in laminate or wood veneer. Particle board also absorbs more moisture than MDF, however, compared to wood, both of these manufactured boards absorb a lot of water. There is also the question of how easily they both cut. Both MDF and particle board require sawblades with a higher teeth count to ensure there is no splintering or chipping on the boards.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Does particle board attract bugs?
Particle board does not attract bugs as some woods do. Since it is adhered together using resins and chemical glue, insects are not very prone to attacking it. However, some wood-eating bugs might burrow into particle boards and weaken them.
What is particle board best used for?
Particle boards are best used for cabinetry projects since they are usually attached to walls and are not subject to a lot of movement. Particle board gets weak when moved a lot, which is why cabinetry is the best way to utilise it. Also, you can use particle board in projects along with natural wood, using the manufactured board in parts where people won’t be able to identify it.
Is particle board a good alternative to wood?
Particle board is not a good alternative to wood. However, it is much more reasonably priced and can be used for a multitude of projects where you can alternate it for wood.
With inflation at an all-time high, wood can seem out of range for many people. However, we have materials like fibre boards, specifically particle board, that can be used as an alternative. If used properly, they can save you tons of costs on projects. Not to mention, if you end up making mistakes, it is relatively cheap and can be replaced readily. It is also available very easily. Keeping the price and availability in mind, if you are working on cabinetry projects, try to use particle boards instead of wood to save on costs.