Explaining the Different Types of Fiberboard Density

Stacked MDF.
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Fiberboard is engineered wood sheets made from various materials, such as recycled paper, wood waste, hardwood, and softwood flakes, as well as sawmill off-cuts. It is used in various applications, such as low-slope roofing, structural sheathing, sound-proofing, and flooring underlayment. There are three major types of fiberboard with varied densities— particle board, which has the lowest density, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and high-density fiberboard.

Particle Board

Particleboard is composed of wood flakes mixed together using a resin solution such as melamine based resin. It has a density of 160-450 kg/m³ and is used in various construction projects such as underlayment in bathrooms, laundries, and kitchen floor coverings as well as in furniture design. Particleboard is the weakest and lightest among the fiberboards and is prone to discoloration and warping when exposed to high moisture. Due to its vulnerability in areas with high moisture levels, particleboard is not ideal for outdoor use. However, it is cheaper than conventional plywood and is available in large flat sheets.

There are two main materials used in the production of particleboard today—rubber-wood and the tropical-mix particle board—with a difference in density, strength, and color. Tropical-mix wood particleboard is made from wood waste and timber residues with a bending strength greater than that of rubber-wood particle boards. Tropical-mix wood particle board also has higher moisture resistance and is more compact compared to rubberwood particleboard. You can easily identify the two types of particle board by their color—tropical mix wood is brown while rubberwood is yellowish. Both types of particleboards are perfect for furniture making and lamination purposes.

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

Medium-density fiberboard is another type of fiberboard composed of flakes of hardwood and softwood combined by applying a resin binder and wax with a density ranging from 600-800 kg/m³. It is commonly used in the shopfitting business, loudspeaker enclosures, and on school projects. MDF is much denser than conventional plywood and is often used as a substitute to plywood where greater strength and flexibility are required.

New types of medium density fiberboard are made from recycled paper, wood scraps, sawmill off-cuts, carbon fibers, and bamboo shreds, making it an environmental friendly fiberboard. Medium-sized particleboard is also split-resistant, malleable, cheap, and a perfect veneer substrate. However, MDF is heavier than plywood, vulnerable to breaking when soaked in water, and shrinks when exposed to low humidity environments.

Different types of medium density fiberboards are moisture-resistant, nuclear radiation-resistant, and fire-resistant that can easily be identified through its color. Green MDF is moisture-resistant, yellow MDF is nuclear resistant, and blue and red MDF is fire resistant.

High-Density Fiberboard

Also called hardboard, high-density fiberboard is made of highly compressed wood fibers that are much denser, harder and stronger compared to particleboard and medium-density fiberboard. With a density of 600-1450 kg/m³, high-density fiberboard is ideal for high-quality furniture, flooring, cabinet-making, automobile dashboard panels, and construction projects.