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Particle Board Vs. MDF Vs. Plywood

Trying to find the right sheet wood for your project? If you are laying sub flooring, making furniture, or any number of project you will want to make certain you have the right sheet wood for the job. There are so many options, but primarily you will run into particle board, MDF, and plywood being used. But what are the differences in particle board vs. MDF vs. plywood? There aren’t too many, but below you will learn more about each and which suits your needs the best.


What are these sheet woods made from? Particleboard is composed of wood shavings, wood chips, wood fibers, and adhesive. MDF, or medium density fiberboard is comprised of wood fiber and adhesive that are compressed together. Lastly, plywood is several layers of wood veneer sheets laminated together in alternating directions.

Strength and Fastener Capacity

Particleboard has very low strength. It is soft and fragile, therefore it cannot support heavy loads. This also makes it unsuitable for fasteners as it could fall apart when being applied. MDF has medium strength so it can be applied to some jobs, but still can be damaged easily. It also doesn’t hold fasteners very well because it is made of fine particles. It cannot grip the fastener and therefore they because stripped quickly. Plywood is the strongest. It is also the best at holding fasteners because of the cross grain patterns.


The price of plywood varies because there are different thicknesses and grades. It can cost from $12-$55 for an average size, and up to $120 for a thicker sheet. MDF also varies in thickness and therefore the prices varies from $29.00 – $79.00. Particleboard also has different thicknesses to choose from and the price can range from $12-$33.


MDF can be used for moldings and wainscoting. It can also be used for the underlay of laminate counter tops. It has a beautifully smooth surface and once painted seems like a smooth piece of wood which is why it is great for molding, trim, wainscoting, and countertops. Plywood isn’t smooth, but it is strong, so it is great for construction uses. It can be used for wall sheathing, interior walls, roofing and flooring. It also works well for furniture and cabinet making. Particle board is not as strong as plywood and swells with moisture. So it is typically used for furniture making, underlayment and substrate for countertops.

Need more woodworking ideas, tips, and news? Visit more of Byrd Tool’s blogs.

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