Trying to figure out the differences between plywood can be confusing enough. But, deciding which reconstituted wood product (like OSB, MDF and particleboard) to use can be a nightmare if you are not familiar with them. Use the information below to help plan the materials for your next project. Reconstituted woods products are made by mixing leftover wood parts with glue or resin at high heat and pressure. Since they do not have a grain pattern, they do not bow or warp like traditional plywood.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is a waste-wood product that is made with fine wood fiber.
|Uses||Furniture, Shelving, Cabinetry, Moulding|
|Cutting and Shaping||Easily milled with all power tools. Resists tear-out.|
|Finishes||Laminate, Veneer, Paint|
|Availability||Panels 49 in. x 97 in., 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. thick. Precut shelving 4 ft. to 8 ft. lengths, various depths, 3/4 in. thick, finished and unfinished. Moulding 8 ft. to 16 ft. lengths|
Particleboard is a waste-wood product that is made by mixing sawdust with adhesives. Although it will not bow or warp like plywood, it can swell and become unstable when exposed to water.
|Uses||Furniture, Underlayment, Substrate for countertop.|
|Cutting and Shaping||Can be milled with all power tools. Moderate tear-out.|
Panels 4 ft. x 8 ft., 1/2 in. to 1 in. thick. Pre-cut shelving boards of various sizes.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
OSB is an engineered wood product that is made with flakes or large chips of wood. The panels are formed from layers glued together with their strands at ninety-degree angles to one another. The cross orientation of the layers adds strength to the panels and makes OSB well-suited for use as a structure board.
|Cutting and Shaping|
Can be cut with all power saws. Since this product is a structure board, it is not suited to shaping, sanding, or other milling operations.
|Finishes||Paints and primers will adhere to OSB; however, the board is designed for use as an underlayment or sheathing and shouldn't require finishing.|
|Availability||Panels 4 ft.x8 ft., 1/4 in. to 3/4 in. thick. Also available in tongue and groove panels.|