Explaining the Different Types of Fiberboard Density

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

Particle board 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. Particle board 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, particle board is not ideal for outdoor use. However, particle board is cheaper than conventional plywood and is available in large flat sheets.

There are to two main particle board materials used in the production of particle boards today—rubber-wood and the tropical-mix particle board—with a difference in density, strength, and color. Tropical-mix wood particle board 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 a higher moisture resistance and is more compact compared to rubber wood particle board. You can easily identify the two types of particle board by their color—tropical mix wood is brown while rubber wood is yellowish. Both types of particle board 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 shop fitting 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 is 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 particle board 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 as hardboard, high density fiberboard is made of highly compressed wood fibers that are much denser, harder and stronger compared to particle board 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.