Insider's Guide to Furniture & the Home Furnishings Industry

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Is Particle board a good material for furniture?

Particle board is also known as chipboard or low density fiberboard (LDF.) It is typically the least expensive material that can be used for manufacturing furniture. It has a lower cost than other types of engineered woods or plywood.

Particle board’s low cost is achieved by using all lumber waste products. This includes wood chips, shavings, sawdust and other residue products left over from mill operations. These are glued together and firmly pressed into boards or sheets.

CHIPBOARD 420x420

The major advantage of particle board is that it is a cost-effective option as compared with plywood or medium density fiber boards. Due to its lightweight properties, particle boards are easily transported and handled.

Particle board is less expensive than MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard.) Particle board has better screw holding capacity. This makes it a superior option for furniture assembled by using screws.

Particle boards also have thermo-acoustic insulation properties. This is not particularly important for furniture, but is very useful in speakers and in false ceiling of auditoriums, theaters, etc.

Laminated particle boards have decorative plastic laminates or wood veneers. These are stronger, smoother and better looking than plain unfinished fiber boards. They also require minimal maintenance and are easy to clean.

As a result, laminated and veneered particle boards are often preferred in the production of low cost mass produced furniture.

Particle board also has several disadvantages compared with other engineered woods and plywood.

It has low strength compared to other fiberboards and its low density makes it easily damaged during shipping. Particle board’s low strength means it cannot support heavy loads.

In the presence of moisture, particle board can expand and warp. Also in extreme conditions discolouration can occur.

Particle boards have low durability and a shorter lifespan than medium density fiberboard and plywood.

Particle boards can be toxic. The manufacturing process uses urea formaldehyde resin which can release formaldehyde gas.

Particle board furniture can cost less than half as much as plywood furniture of similar dimensions .

Both plywood and solid woods are more durable than particleboard (and most other engineered woods.)

Particle boards are machine manufactured to desired dimensions. Standard pieces of furniture can be efficiently mass-produced.

This further brings down the costs since there is no carpenter work involved.

A thin layer of plastic or wood veneer is usually glued over the surface of the particle boards used for furniture. These are known as pre-laminated boards.

Lamination increases the beauty as well as increasing the strength of the board slightly.

Particle boards are very light in weight. Furniture made from these boards is relatively easy to transport and move around.

Although this can be an advantage for some people, it is also an indicator that the board is not as strong as other wood products.

A general rule of thumb when it comes to selecting woods is that the denser the wood the stronger it is. And denser usually also means heavier weight.

Apart from being low on strength, particle board furniture is also prone to damage as a result of moisture and humidity.

Particle board furniture can generally be expected to last 2 – 3 years, possibly as much as 5 years if it is not heavily used.

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