Fiberboard: Pros, Cons, and How It’s Made for Home and Industry

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 19, 2022
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Fiberboards are a versatile material that can be used for almost anything.

Fiberboards are a composite material made from wood fibers, usually cellulose. They’re used in construction, furniture making, and many other applications. They’re also known as chipboard, particle board, or medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

Particleboard is made from wood chips, shavings, and sawdust that are glued together with a resin. Fiberboard is made from wood fibers that are bonded together with a resin. Both types of fiberboard are used in a variety of applications, including furniture, cabinetry, and flooring. Particleboard is typically cheaper than fiberboard, but it is also less durable.

In this article, I’ll explain what they are, how they’re made, and how they’re used. Plus, I’ll share some fun facts about this versatile material.

What is fiberboard

The Three Types of Fiberboard: Which One is Right for You?

1. Particle Board

Particle board is the most affordable type of fiberboard, commonly used in interior construction and furniture making. It is composed of small pieces of wood bonded together with synthetic resin and pressed into tiles or boards. This type of fiberboard is less dense than other types, making it easy to transport and cut. However, it is not as resistant to wear and tear as other types of fiberboard and may contain excess glue, making it difficult to stain or paint.

2. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF is a composite material made from wood fibers and synthetic resin, similar to particle board but with a higher density. It is commonly used in furniture making and interior construction due to its smooth surface and ability to hold intricate designs. MDF is suitable for painting and staining, making it a popular choice for those looking for a traditional wood look without spending too much money. However, MDF is not as strong as solid wood and may not be suitable for heavy-duty construction.

3. Hardboard

Hardboard, also known as high-density fiberboard (HDF), is the densest type of fiberboard. It consists of compressed wood fibers that are bound together with heat and pressure, making it a solid and durable material. Hardboard is commonly used in construction and design, including as a base for laminated flooring and as a backing for wall tiles. Its dense nature makes it resistant to wear and tear, and it can be cut and shaped into complex designs. However, it is slightly more expensive than other types of fiberboard and may not be suitable for those on a low budget.

Overall, fiberboard is a versatile and affordable material that has many advantages in construction and design. Whether you choose particle board, MDF, or hardboard, each type has its own unique properties that make it suitable for different projects and designs.

From Wood to Material: The Manufacturing Process of Fiberboards

  • The manufacturing process of fiberboards begins with the preparation of raw materials, which include wood chips, sawdust, and other wood residues.
  • These materials are arranged and steamed to soften them and make them more pliable for processing.
  • Soon after, the materials are carefully arranged and pushed through a chipper to produce small chunks or plug suitable for further refinement.
  • The chunks are then sent through a series of cutting machines to achieve the desired size and length.
  • In some cases, advanced plants are equipped with metal screws that remove any unwanted materials, such as sand or stones, from the wood chunks.
  • The wood chunks are then combined with starch and other materials to produce a consistent and uniform mixture.

Wet and Dry Processing

  • There are two main types of processing involved in the manufacture of fiberboards: wet and dry processing.
  • Wet processing involves wet forming and wet pressing, while dry processing involves dry mat forming and pressing.
  • Wet/dry processing involves wet forming followed by dry pressing.
  • In wet hardboard and dry hardboard processing, resin is used to achieve a solid and usable product.
  • Wet processing is considered to be a fast and efficient way of producing fiberboards, while dry processing is associated with a lower energy consumption.

The Manufacturing Steps

  • The manufacturing process of fiberboards involves a variety of steps, including sanding, cutting, and refinement.
  • The raw materials are first blown onto a conveyor belt and sent through a series of machines that remove any remaining impurities.
  • The materials are then pushed through a series of rollers to achieve the desired thickness and uniformity.
  • The next step involves cutting the fiberboard into smaller pieces, which are then arranged and sent through a series of machines for further refinement.
  • The final step involves edge sanding to achieve a smooth and consistent finish.

The Final Products

  • Fiberboards are available in a wide variety of types and sizes, ranging from large sheets to smaller strips.
  • The thickness of the fiberboard can also vary, with some products being as thin as a few inches, while others are several inches thick.
  • The overall quality of the fiberboard is determined by the content of starch and other materials used in the manufacturing process.
  • The consistency of the fiberboard is also a factor in its quality, with consistent products being considered of higher quality.
  • Fiberboards are suitable for a variety of building and construction applications, including as a substitute for solid wood in furniture and cabinetry.

Unleashing the Power of Fiberboard: Its Various Uses

Fiberboard is a versatile material that can be used in a variety of residential and commercial applications. Here are some of the most common uses of fiberboard:

  • Wall sheathing: Fiberboard is often used as a structural sheathing material for walls because of its strength and durability.
  • Roofing: Fiberboard is also used as a coverboard for roofing systems. It promotes energy efficiency and can help reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Insulation: Soft fiberboard is an excellent insulating material that can be used to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
  • Sound deadening: Fiberboard is an effective sound deadening material that can be used to reduce noise levels in buildings.
  • Flooring underlayment: Fiberboard is often used as an underlayment for flooring because of its ability to absorb impact and reduce noise.

Automotive Industry

Fiberboard is also used in the automotive industry for a variety of applications, including:

  • Rear parcel shelf: Fiberboard is often used to create the rear parcel shelf in cars. This is the shelf that separates the trunk from the passenger compartment.
  • Inner door panel: Fiberboard can also be used to create the inner door panel in cars. This provides a durable and lightweight alternative to traditional materials like metal.
  • Covered in fabric or polyvinyl: Fiberboard can be covered in fabric or polyvinyl to create a finished look that matches the rest of the car’s interior.

Production and Specifications

Fiberboard is produced by starting with thin pieces of wood or other cellulosic materials. These pieces are then broken down into fibers and mixed with a binder to create a sheet of fiberboard. Here are some important specifications to keep in mind when working with fiberboard:

  • ASTM specification: Fiberboard must meet ASTM specification C208 to be considered a true fiberboard product.
  • Density: The apparent density of fiberboard is usually less than 400 kg/m3 for soft fiberboard and higher for hard fiberboard.
  • Porosity: Soft fiberboard has a high porosity, which makes it an excellent heatproof and acoustical material.

The Billion Square Feet Industry

Fiberboard is a new and innovative product that was accidentally invented by William H. Mason in the early 1900s. Mason was trying to press huge quantities of chips from discarded lumber into a durable product, but he forgot to shut off the press. The resulting product was fiberboard, which has since become a multi-billion square feet industry in the United States alone.

  • Fiberboard is a good alternative to wood as it is made from recycled materials, making it a sustainable option.
  • It is a strong and stable material that is resistant to water and moisture, making it an excellent choice for areas with high humidity levels.
  • Fiberboard is easy to cut and shape, making it a versatile material for various applications.
  • It has excellent thermal insulation properties, which can help reduce energy costs in buildings.

The Battle of the Boards: Fiberboard vs. MDF

Fiberboard and MDF are both man-made composite panel products that are manufactured from compressed wood fibers. However, the differences lie in their composition and processing:

  • Fiberboard is composed of chopped wood fibers that are combined with glue and compressed to achieve the desired density and shape. It lacks the natural grain of solid wood and is referred to as HDF (High Density Fiberboard/Hardboard) when it has a typical density of up to 900kg/m3.
  • MDF, on the other hand, is composed of fine wood fibers that are combined with glue and processed to achieve a smooth, consistent texture. It is widely used in building and is highly popular due to its affordability and range of finishes.

Strength and Durability

While both fiberboard and MDF offer different levels of strength and durability, there are some key differences:

  • Fiberboard is a harder, more solid product than MDF, making it ideal for supporting heavy weights and repeated use. It is also highly resistant to sound and is often used in special styles of building.
  • MDF, on the other hand, is considered more comfortable and easier to process due to its lower density. It is highly affordable and can be cut into a wide range of shapes and sizes, making it an ideal choice for everyday use.

Edges and Finishes

The edges and finishes of fiberboard and MDF also differ:

  • Fiberboard has a coarse, choppy texture that can make it difficult to achieve a fine finish. However, it offers a wider range of finishes and can be given a longer-lasting, high-quality look with the right processing.
  • MDF, on the other hand, has a smooth, consistent texture that allows for a wide range of finishes and styles. It is also easier to cut and shape, making it an ideal choice for achieving special styles and shapes.

Price and Availability

Finally, the price and availability of fiberboard and MDF can influence which type of board is chosen:

  • Fiberboard is generally more expensive than MDF due to its higher density and strength. However, it is widely available and can be found in a range of styles and finishes.
  • MDF, on the other hand, is highly affordable and widely available in a range of finishes and styles. It is also easier to process and allows for repeated use of screws and other improvement techniques.

In conclusion, while fiberboard and MDF are both man-made composite panel products, their differences in composition, strength, finishes, and price make them ideal for different uses and styles. When choosing between the two, it is important to consider the specific needs of the project and the desired final product.


So, that’s what fiberboards are. Fiberboards are a versatile material used for construction and interior decoration. You can use them for just about anything, from walls to furniture. Fiberboards are great for a low budget and easy to work with. So, go ahead and give them a try!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.