Particle Board vs MDF vs Plywood: Which is The Best Wood Material?
June 15, 2022
Particle board, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and plywood are engineered wood material created to fulfill specific purposes. Each is different in its creation process, usage in the field, and price.
Here we share the distinctions of each wood material.
The difference Between The 3 Wood Material
Particle board, also known as low-density fiberboard (LDF) or chipboard, is a type of wood material created from byproducts of the wood manufacture process, namely wood chips, sawdust, and sawmill shavings.
Creating a particle board involves mixing the materials above, bonding them with resin, and heat-pressing them.
MDF is a wood composite material made of wood fibers bonded with adhesives and formed into panels through a heat press. The usage of compressed wood fiber ensures that MDF doesn’t have visible knots or grains.
Plywood is a manufactured wood material made of wood sheets called veneers that are stacked together and bonded using adhesive. This material comes in varying numbers of veneers, from 3 to 13 stacks of veneers.
Many plywood types cater to different uses, according to their base wood materials, adhesive/finish, and the number of veneers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Particle board is often used for ready-made furniture at lower prices. Due to its nature as a product made from wood waste, particle board is considered an eco-friendly product.
Befitting its price and creation process, particle board often has a low strength, meaning it can easily bend or break. A particle board is affected more by water, as the wood chips forming the board absorb water easily, expanding them and making the board more fragile.
MDF is also an eco-friendly wood material, as the wood fibers used as the base material are often residues from the prior wood manufacturing process. Compared to particle board, MDF is more robust and smoother, with more density. It is often used to build higher-quality furniture.
However, MDF is more expensive than particle board. It is also heavier due to its higher density. MDF is also easily affected by water, making the material unsuitable for outdoor construction.
Plywood comes in varieties; each variety serves a different purpose.
Some plywoods, such as plywoods made from hardwood and softwood, are excellent for creating furniture and floorings.
Other plywoods cater to outdoor use, using specialized glue and finish to strengthen the plywood and protect it from environmental hazards. Plywoods in this category include exterior plywood and marine plywood.
Some plywoods can also be used as construction material. Structural plywood and aircraft plywood is in this category.
With varieties and multiple strengths, it is no surprise that plywood has a higher price than particle board or MDF.
Choosing the correct plywood may also be challenging for someone inexperienced in woodworking. Choosing incorrect plywood can make the full potential of the plywood unrealized. It is also a waste of money.
Which one is the best between particle board, MDF, and plywood? To answer the question, you may want to reflect on what you want to do and how you will do it.
You can use the three types of engineered wood material to create wood products furniture. Tougher furniture may require MDF or specific plywoods.
Outdoor use requires plywood with the correct specification. A particle board or MDF may not suffice since they are susceptible to moisture damage.
If you have a limited budget, you may want to choose particle board. Otherwise, an MDF or plywood can be used for better quality.