Wooden boards are a crucial building material used in a wide range of construction projects. The most common types of wooden boards include plywood, MDF, HDF, particle boards, OSB, and Veneer. Each type differs in composition, density, and quality, making them suitable for different applications.
Because of their varying characteristics, each type of board is used for different purposes. For example, plywood is ideal for furniture, cabinets, and flooring, while MDF is often used for cabinetry and furniture construction. HDF is commonly used for laminate flooring, while particle boards are frequently used for subfloors and shelving. OSB is often used in construction for sheathing and roofing and veneer os typically used as a surface finish for furniture, doors, and cabinets.
Despite their differences, each type of board has its own advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to understand the characteristics of each type to determine which one is best suited for your project. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each board type, discuss their unique features, and provide tips on how to work with them effectively.
Table of Contents
- Common Types of Wooden Boards – Comparison Table
- Different Types of Wood Boards
- MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
- HDF (High Density Fiberboard)
- Particle Boards (Low-Density Fiberboard)
- OSB (Oriented Strand Board)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Veneer?
- Is OSB a Particle Board?
- Is Plywood Stronger than Wood?
- Is Plywood Waterproof?
Common Types of Wooden Boards - Comparison Table
Below is a table that presents a basic comparison of the most common types of wood used in woodworking.
|Wood Board Type||Density (kg/m3)||Quality||Typical use||Average Price (per sheet depending on thickness and quality)|
|Plywood||Varies (500-700)||Low – High||Suitable for a wide range of applications. Mainly used for furniture, cabinets, and construction.||$20-$100|
|MDF||Medium (600-800)||High||Indoor cabinetry, and decorative molding||$25-$50|
|HDF||High (800-1500)||High||High-end furniture, cabinets, and doors||$50-$150|
|Particle board||Low (500-800)||Low||Furniture, cabinets, and shelving||$10-$25|
|OSB||High (550-750)||Low||Construction and sheathing applications||$10-$30|
|Veneer||Varies (500-700)||Medium – High||Surface finish for furniture, doors, and cabinets||$10-$75|
Different Types of Wood Boards
Plywood, a commonly used type of lumber, is created by gluing together thin slices of wood veneer in alternating perpendicular layers. This gives plywood great durability and resilience, resulting in a versatile material suited for diverse applications. Plywood boards have grades ranging from A to D and come in varying sizes and thicknesses.
One of the defining attributes of plywood is its impressive strength-to-weight ratio. This capability makes plywood stronger, lighter than solid wood, and resistant to warping, splitting, and cracking. Consequently, plywood serves as an ideal material for applications that demand stability and durability, such as flooring, cabinets, furniture, and woodworking jigs.
Types of Plywood
There are many different types of plywood, each with its unique characteristics and uses. The following are some of the most common types of plywood:
Softwood plywood: Typically crafted from softwood trees, such as pine, fir, and cedar, it’s frequently used in construction and high-end furniture manufacturing.
Hardwood Plywood: Made from hardwood trees like oak, maple, and birch, hardwood plywood is often used for furniture making and cabinetry.
Structural Plywood: Ideal for use in construction and engineering projects, structural plywood is designed to be strong and durable.
Decorative Plywood: Finished with a veneer that gives it a decorative appearance, this type of plywood is commonly used for interior wall paneling and furniture making.
- Marine plywood: Type of hardwood plywood that is specially designed to resist moisture and humidity, making it an ideal choice for outdoor applications like boat building.
Classification of Plywood
Plywood is classified into different grades depending on its quality and appearance.
- Grade A is the highest quality plywood available, with a smooth surface and no visible defects. It is commonly used in high-end furniture making and cabinetry.
- Grade B plywood has some visible defects, such as knots and discolorations, but it is still commonly used in construction and furniture making.
- Grade C plywood has more visible defects than Grade B, such as knots and splits, and is typically used in construction and other applications where appearance is not the primary concern.
- Grade D plywood is the lowest quality plywood available, with visible defects on both sides and is generally used in construction and other applications where appearance is not important.
Baltic birch plywood is my top choice when it comes to woodworking materials. It is sturdy, strong, and has a quality surface which makes it perfect for use in cabinetry, and woodworking jigs making. The only downside is its price, which can be quite high compared to other types of plywood.
RELATED: Is Plywood Water Resistant?
- Stronger than solid wood due to its layered construction
- Available in different sizes and thicknesses to suit different needs
- Can be expensive compared to other types of wood products
- Not completely waterproof, so may not be suitable for certain applications
2. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
MDF is a type of manufactured wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers and combining them with wax and epoxy binder. The resulting mixture is then subjected to high temperature and pressure to create a strong and uniform material.
It is commonly used in furniture-making, cabinetry, and interior molding. It can also be used in construction for interior applications, such as wall panels and subflooring, and is often used in DIY projects for its versatility and ease of use.
MDF is a cheaper option than solid wood or plywood, which makes it more affordable. Its smooth surface and uniformity also make it easy to paint and finish, which helps give finished products a consistent look. However, MDF is not as strong or durable as solid wood or plywood, so it may sag or warp over time if it is not well-supported.
Below, you’ll find an example of a DIY router table constructed from plywood with added MDF strips. These MDF strips, combined with the plywood, create T-tracks that can accommodate various tools and accessories.
Types of MDF
MDF boards are made of leftover wood materials of hardwood and softwood, including pine, spruce, and eucalyptus. There are two primary varieties of MDF, namely standard and moisture-resistant MDF.
- Standard MDF is ideal for indoor purposes and often employed for manufacturing furniture, cabinetry, and decorative moldings.
- Moisture-resistant MDF comes with water-resistant properties, making it a better option for humid areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms. It is also used for outdoor applications, such as outdoor furniture and trim work.
You can also find other types on the market, such as fire-resistant or ultralight MDF.
- Strong and sturdy, with no knots or other imperfections like natural wood
- More affordable than many other wood products
- Can be shaped and cut easily
- Prone to moisture damage and swelling if not sealed properly
- Difficult to repair if it gets damaged or dented
- Not as strong as natural wood
I really enjoy using MDF for my projects because of its strength, smooth and flawless surface, affordable price, and ease of workability. In addition, its versatility allows for a wide range of uses and design possibilities.
3. HDF (High Density Fiberboard)
HDF is a type of engineered wood product made of wood fibers that are compressed under high pressure and temperature with an epoxy binder. HDF is similar to MDF, but it has a higher density due to the additional pressure used during manufacturing. This results in a stronger and more resistant material that is less prone to warping or sagging.
HDF has a variety of benefits and uses. It is an easy to work with material, that is commonly used for flooring, as it is strong enough to withstand foot traffic and heavy furniture. It is also used for decorative paneling, shelving, and furniture construction. HDF is more water-resistant than MDF, making it suitable for use in areas with higher humidity levels such as bathrooms and kitchens.
While HDF and MDF are similar in construction and use, the main difference between them is the density. HDF boards have a higher density than MDF boards, making them stronger and more resistant, but also more expensive.
HDF boards, as well as other boards, come in many types such as standard, moisture-resistant, or fire-resistant.
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4. Particle Boards (Low Density Fiberboard)
Particle boards, or chipboards, are a cost-effective type of manufactured wood product made by bonding wood chips with resin or adhesive under high heat and pressure. Due to their affordability and versatility, they are widely used in construction and for making furniture.
However, compared to other types of boards, chipboards are generally less dense and may be more susceptible to swelling or warping if exposed to moisture. Despite this, they remain a popular choice for budget-friendly projects as they are easy to work with and require less investment.
- Inexpensive compared to other types of engineered wood products.
- Smooth surface that is ideal for painting and laminating.
- Can be made from recycled materials
- Less durable than other wood products, can easily chip or break
- Absorbs moisture quickly
5. OSB (Oriented Strand Board)
OSB is made by compressing and bonding together layers of wood strands or chips. These strands or chips are typically made from timber or scrap pieces of wood and are arranged in a specific orientation to give the board its strength and stability. The layers are then coated with adhesive or resin and pressed together under high temperature and pressure.
Compared to other types of boards, OSB is known for its strength and affordability. It is often used in construction as a sheathing material for walls, roofs, floors, and other woodworking applications. The orientation of the wood strands in the board gives it enhanced strength and resistance to splitting and warping, making it a great choice for structural applications. Additionally, OSB is often more affordable than other types of boards due to its use of scrap wood materials.
Types of OSB
- Standard: OSB used for roofing, flooring, and wall sheathing.
- Tongue-and-groove: OSB with a tongue-and-groove design that fits together tightly, making it ideal for flooring and subflooring.
- Moisture resistant: OSB treated with special coatings or resins to make it more resistant to moisture and humidity.
- Fire-rated: OSB treated with special chemicals to make it more fire-resistant, making it suitable for construction projects where fire safety is a concern.
- Structural: OSB designed to have high strength and stiffness, making it suitable for use in applications where structural integrity is critical, such as in walls and roofs.
OSB is graded based on its quality, with different grades suitable for different applications. The grading system includes four grades, numbered from 1 to 4, with each grade representing a different level of quality. Grade 1 OSB is the highest quality and is suitable for use in demanding applications such as structural sheathing, while Grade 4 OSB is the lowest quality and is typically used in non-structural applications such as packaging materials.
- Cost-effective alternative to plywood
- Eco-friendly as it is made from small-diameter trees and wood scraps
- Strong and durable due to its layered construction
- Susceptible to moisture damage and swelling
- Not as aesthetically pleasing as other materials due to its rough surface and visible wood chips (although that could be a pro as well)
Veneer is a thin slice of real hardwood and is adhered to the surface of other wooden boards, predominantly plywood, MDF, or particleboard. Its primary role is to offer the appearance and warmth of solid hardwood without the accompanying cost and weight.
One of the key benefits of veneer is its eco-friendliness. Since it utilizes minimal amounts of wood for the finished product, more furniture or finishes can be produced from a single log as compared to solid wood products.
Types of Veneer
There are several methods to produce and categorize veneers, but the following are the most widely recognized:
- Raw Veneer: Typically glued to a substrate, raw veneer is sanded and finished after application. Its natural appearance provides authentic charm to the finished product.
- Paper-Backed Veneer: A layer of paper is fused to the wood veneer, making it more robust and easier to handle. Commonly utilized in large-scale manufacturing due to its consistency.
- Phenolic-Backed Veneer: Infused with a phenolic resin, this veneer becomes more stable and moisture-resistant, making it apt for areas prone to humidity.
- Laid-Up Veneer: Multiple veneer sheets are bonded together to form patterned designs, introducing a unique aesthetic to furniture and panels.
- Allows for a luxurious wood finish without the expense of solid hardwood.
- Environmentally friendly as it maximizes the yield from a single tree.
- Adaptable to curves and unique shapes.
- More delicate than solid wood and can be susceptible to damage if not handled with care.
- Lifespan might not match that of solid wood products.
- Quality can vary; higher-quality veneers closely resemble solid wood, while cheaper ones can lack the genuine feel and look.
When it comes to wooden boards used in woodworking, there are various types available, each with unique properties, advantages, and drawbacks. It’s important to note that their use always depends on the project. Understanding the differences in composition, density, and quality of these manufactured boards can help you choose the right material for their specific needs.
Personally, for most of my workshop projects, I prefer to use Baltic Birch plywood, MDF, and HDF. These materials are strong and durable, and the quality of the result is always perfect. There are many ways and possibilities to use them, making them a versatile choice. The only downside is that they can be quite pricey. However, I believe that the quality of the end result is well worth the investment.
KEEP READING: Different Ways to Rounding Wood Edges
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Veneer?
When speaking about different types of boards, it is important to mention veneers. Veneer is a type of wood material that is obtained by slicing or peeling a thin layer of wood from a log, which is then glued onto a substrate, such as plywood or particle board. The wood used to create veneer can come from a wide range of tree species, including oak, cherry, maple, birch, and others.
Using a veneer has several advantages, one of which is its pleasing appearance. It allows the natural beauty and distinctive features of the wood grain to be displayed, giving a sense of refinement and style to any project. In addition, veneered boards are more durable than solid wood, reducing the chances of warping or cracking over time.
Is OSB a Particle Board?
OSB and particle boards are similar in that they are both engineered wood products made from wood particles bonded together with resins or adhesives. However, OSB is made with larger wood chips and arranged in layers, while particle boards are made with smaller wood particles that are more densely packed together. Additionally, OSB is often used in construction applications where strength and durability are important, while particle boards are more commonly used in furniture and cabinetry making and other decorative applications.
Is Plywood Stronger than Wood?
Plywood is known for its strength and generally is stronger than solid wood. Its construction with multiple layers and different grain directions makes it less susceptible to warping and cracking, making it a great option for carrying heavy loads. However, the quality and thickness of the layers used in its construction determine the strength of the plywood.
Is Plywood Waterproof?
Plywood is not waterproof, but some types of plywood are water-resistant. This means they can resist water to some extent, but they can still get damaged if they are exposed to water for too long or submerged in water. It is important to choose the right type of plywood for projects that involve exposure to moisture or water.
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