Furniture boards are sheets of material used for constructing furniture or shelving. They can be made from various materials, including solid wood, plywood, medium-density fibreboard, chipboard, and melamine-faced chipboard.
The variety of furniture boards makes these materials extraordinarily versatile and useful. Here are some of the different types of furniture boards available.
Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF)
An engineered wood made of waste wood fibres compressed with wax and a resin binder, MDF is a versatile type of furniture board suitable for many different projects. Panels of MDF are denser than particleboard or plywood and are easy to cut and drill accurately. The smooth surface of MDF is also ideal for applying paint, so this material is an excellent choice for painted furniture.
MDF is available in various varieties with different features. For example, moisture resistant MDF is ideal for use in bathroom or kitchen furniture, which will be in a humid environment. Fire retardant MDF has properties that make it suited for use in places with specific fire safety regulations. At the same time, exterior MDF is a good substitute for softwood, hardwood, or plywood in outdoor settings such as garden furniture or shop fronts.
Although MDF is perfect for painting, there are other ways to get a stylish finish on your furniture boards. Coloured MDF is widely available to choose the ideal look for your furniture. It's also available in various thicknesses from 3mm to 50mm, so you can get the sheets best suited to your project.
Note: because MDF is manufactured using formaldehyde glue, it's crucial to wear protective equipment while cutting it because of the release of harmful particles.
Chipboard, also known as particle board or low-density fibreboard, is a sheet material made of small wood chips bound together with resin. It is similar to cardboard and is less dense than MDF. Cheap and valuable for various projects, particle board is available in multiple grades for different conditions (moisture, load bearing, etc.). It's often used as panels in walls or under flooring.
Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC)
Another versatile type of furniture board is Melamine Faced Chipboard or MFC. These boards have a core of particle board with layers of melamine on the exterior. The melamine faces come in various colours, designs, and textures that may imitate other natural materials such as wood or stone.
More cost-effective than timber, MFC is an excellent material for making furniture because of its sturdiness and attractive appearance. Providing more diversity of textures and appearance than MDF or particle board, MFC is a perfect option for many furniture projects.
Another engineered wood product, boards made of plywood, are a good compromise between the durability of wood and the affordability of other types of boards. Plywood is made from thin veneers of hardwood (birch, oak, mahogany, teak) or softwood (pine, beech) adhered together using glue, plywood is denser than solid wood. It is robust thanks to the alternating grain directions of each veneer.
Plywood is available in various grades for different purposes, making it a highly versatile option for furniture projects. The grades are based on the appearance of the top veneers rather than the interior veneers. Grade B/BB plywood has a clear and unblemished appearance with only minor natural knots and features, making it great for use in clear finished furniture where a wood-like appearance is desired. BB/BB is a lower grade, although it may sometimes be suitable for clear-finishing, too.
Of course, natural wood can also be used as a furniture board. Wood furniture boards are made from timber, such as oak, beech, or pine. Solid wood furniture boards are incredibly durable and long lasting, perfect for furniture that will be used for decades.
The downside of using boards made of pure wood is that it is far more expensive than any other manufactured wood-based products on the market. Depending on the nature of the project, wood may also not be suitable because of its vulnerability to fire and moisture. For situations where the furniture will be exposed to humidity or needs to be fire retardant due to building regulations, an MDF board with these properties may be more suitable.