Particleboard or chipboard is manufactured by mixing wood particles or flakes together with a resin and forming the mixture into a sheet. The raw material to be used for the particles is fed into a disc chipper with between four and sixteen radially arranged blades (the chips from disk chippers are more uniform in shape and size than from other types of wood chipper). The particles are then dried, after which any oversized or undersized particles are screened out.
Resin is then sprayed through nozzles onto the particles. There are several types of resins that are commonly used. Amino-formaldehyde based resins are the best performing when considering cost and ease of use. Urea Melamine resins are used to offer water resistance with increased melamine offering enhanced resistance. is typically used where the panel is used in external applications due to the increased water resistance offered by phenolic resins and also the colour of the resin resulting in a darker panel. Melamine Urea phenolic formaldehyde resins exist as a compromise. To enhance the panel properties even further the use of resorcinol resins typically mixed with phenolic resins are used, but this is usually used with plywood for marine applications and a rare occasion in panel production.
Particle Board changed the shape of the furniture industry. With veneers being placed over top of the particle board a cheaper alternative to expensive plywood arose.
MDF, or medium-density fibre board is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, often in a defibrator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally denser than plywood. It is made up of separated fibres, but can be used as a building material similar in application to plywood. It is stronger and much denser than particle board.
Hardboard, also called high-density fiberboard (HDF), is a type of fiberboard. This product is also known under Isorel or Masonite brand names.
It is similar to particle board and medium-density fiberboard, but is denser and much stronger and harder because it is made out of exploded wood fibers that have been highly compressed. Consequently, the density of hardboard is 31 lbs or more per cubic foot (500 kg/m³) and is usually about 50-65 lbs per cubic foot (800–1040 kg/m³). It differs from particle board in that the bonding of the wood fibers requires no additional materials, although resin is often added. Unlike particle board, it will not split or crack.
Hardboard is produced in either a wet or dry process. The wet process, known as the Mason Method, leaves only one smooth side while the dry processed hardboard is smooth on both sides. Masonite is produced using the wet process only.
Oriented strand board (OSB), also known as sterling board, sterling OSB, aspenite, and smartply in British English, is an engineered wood particle board formed by adding adhesives and then compressing layers of wood strands (flakes) in specific orientations. OSB may have a rough and variegated surface with the individual strips of around 1″ × 6″, lying unevenly across each other and comes in a variety of types and thicknesses.
OSB is a material with high mechanical properties that make it particularly suitable for load-bearing applications in construction. The most common uses are as sheathing in walls, flooring, and roof decking.