Particle board

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A type of Fiberboard. A composite wood board made from small wood chips, shavings, or sawdust mixed with a water-insoluble adhesive then compressed into a dense solid panel. Generally, particle board is less dense, lighter, weaker, and cheaper than MDF and is made of larger pieces. Particle boards were originally made in 1915 as wallboards. The most common adhesive in particle boards is urea formaldehyde glues are used which release volatile formaldehyde. Some particles boards advertised as formaldehyde free, such as Medite, are made with polyurea or phenolic resins. Particle boards are water-resistant, insect resistant and dimensionally stable during humidity and temperature fluctuations. Particle boards are commonly used in the construction of inexpensive furniture, cabinetry and mobile homes. Composition wood boards are usually classified by fiber size (largest to smallest): Waferboard, strandboard, flakeboard, particleboard, and Fiberboard.

Synonyms and Related Terms

particleboard; chipboard (Br.); panneau de particules (Fr.); conglomerado (Esp.); aglomerado de partículas (Port.); pannello di particelle (It.); pressed wood; composition board; fiberboard

Brand name: Medite


  • Exhibit - case construction, mountmaking

Personal Risks

May emit formaldehyde. Health risks associated with exposure to formaldehyde gas: eye and respiratory irritation, respiratory difficulty.

Health risks associated with elevated concentration of VOCs: respiratory irritation, irritability, inability to concentrate, and sleepiness.

Dust and chemicals released when worked.

Collection Risks

Any wood product may release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as aldehydes, terpenes, and acids . The types and quantities of VOCs released depends on wood species, as well as the presence of coatings. Generally, the most VOCs are released when the product is new. Barrier layers (i.e. coatings) can be applied to limit the release of VOCs.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • pH = 5.4-5.6;
  • Density = 31 ppcf

Working Properties

Tendency to chip when worked.

Forms and Sizes

The standard size for particle boards is 4 x 8 feet

Resources and Citations

  • Exhibit Guidelines Technical Notes: Using Composite Panels in Exhibit Case Construction
  • Baumann, Melissa G.D., Linda F. Lorenz, Stuart A. Batterman, and Guo-Zheng Zhang. 2000. “Aldehyde Emissions from Particleboard and Medium Density Fiberboard Products.” Forest Products Journal 50 (9): 75–82.
  • Reinhart, Kevin Ann. 2018. “What Is the Difference Between Particle Board and Medium Density Fiberboard?” SFGate. 2018.
  • Wong, D., and R. Kozak. 2008. “Particleboard Performance Requirements of Secondary Wood Products Manufacturers in Canada.” Forest Products Journal 58 (3).
  • Illinois Department of Public Health. n.d. “Formaldehyde.” Environmental Health Fact Sheet.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 326
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986 Comment: ..chipboard made since 1915 in the US
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002 Comment: ..high potential for acid hydrolysis and release of volatile products over time
  • Susan Klim, Composite Wood Material in 20th Century Furniture
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Caring for your Collections, Arthur W Schulz (ed.), Harry N. Abrams, Inc. , New York, 1992
  • Megan Salas, contributed information, MWG group, 2020.