Generally, most people would probably conclude that if you pit plywood vs particleboard, the former would win.
Particleboard, however, is not without its advantages over plywood. Let’s take a look at the differences between plywood and particleboard, and find out which one would win a plywood vs particleboard match.
Plywood vs particleboard: what are they composed of?
One of the most basic differences between plywood vs particleboard lies in their composition. Plywood is made from thin sheets of cross-laminated veneer and glued together under heat and pressure.
Particleboard, on the other hand, is true to its name: it’s a flat board composed of particles or chips of wood that are glued together, then pressed under heat.
Which is stronger and more durable?
Considering that plywood possesses a cross-grain pattern from which it derives much of its strength, plywood is clearly stronger and more durable than particleboard. Plywood becomes even stronger and more durable with the strong adhesives used in its manufacture.
Which has a smoother surface?
While plywood is generally stronger, the surfaces of particleboard are usually smoother. That’s because the cross-grain surface of plywood prevents the even distribution of finishing material (like decorative laminates).
One can try to smooth plywood out with sandpaper, but it cannot match the kind of surface smoothness that particleboards can provide. With its smoother surface, particleboard allows decorative laminates and other finish material to make the finished product look more stunning.
Which is easier to handle?
When you hammer or screw plywood into place, you can be sure that the nails and screws will hold because of the stronger cross-grain pattern. Meanwhile, the softer and more brittle composition of particleboards may not hold up well against nails and screws and could fall apart.
Which is the lighter material?
Plywood sheets are also so much lighter than particleboards. They are easier to carry from area to area, or floor to floor. The weight also matters when you’re making a wall cabinet or some furniture with wheels. Being heavier, wall cabinets or wheeled furniture made purely of particleboards could collapse under its own weight.
Which resists moisture better?
When you’re working on a project that would be exposed to a considerable amount of moisture, you should use plywood instead of particleboard.
Regular plywood (whether exterior plywood or interior plywood) is not 100% waterproof—although marine plywood comes real close. But the plywood lasts longer against moisture than particleboards.
Particleboards easily swell and expand with moisture. When that happens, particleboards lose most of their strength as well. Worse, particleboards that are swollen with moisture become heavier, and this increases safety risks.
Which is more budget-friendly?
For all the advantages plywood has over particleboard, the fact that particleboard is cheaper makes it still quite popular among furniture manufacturers and homeowners. Normally, particleboard costs about half or even less than plywood or solid wood. And price is still one of the biggest considerations when engaging in any kind of project that involves engineered wood products.
Which is friendlier to the environment?
Strictly speaking, plywood is environmentally friendly. It just so happens that particleboard is even more so. That’s because particleboards are created using scraps of other lumber products. Plywood, on the other hand, requires veneer from fresh timber. When particleboard is manufactured, no extra cutting of trees needs to be done.
Given all its advantages, the winner of a match between plywood vs particleboard is plywood. That, however, doesn’t mean we all should turn up our noses towards particleboards. Ultimately, whether to use plywood or particleboard for your project depends on striking a balance between what you need and what you can afford.
A final word of advice – always think long-term – what is the required lifetime of your project? Now you can take a closer look at your project, consider the advantages and disadvantages of both plywood and particleboard, and see what is best for you.