Chipboard, also known as particle board or fiberboard, is small chips or wood shavings mixed with synthetic resin or another binder. It is then pressed together with great pressure and heat until it dries. It comes in different sizes, such as low, medium and high densities. Low density chipboard is pliable and not as strong as a higher density which is used for heavier duty operations. It is great for the environment as it uses recycled wood such as sawdust, shredding waste and softwood chips. Being a cheap, recycled material chipboard is not very attractive and is only appealing if painted with melamine.
Chipboard is great because it is so affordable and versatile. However, untreated chipboard is extremely porous. If left untreated it will soak up liquids and become ruined. Typically, it is used for building interiors and decorating projects. High density chipboard is great for kitchen cabinets, flooring subfloor, building insulation, and furniture. Low density is used in inner furniture (i.e. wardrobe backs), moldings and trim, and packaging.
Cutting untreated chipboard is easy with any power saw, such as a table saw, circular saw, or band saw. However, using a hand saw is not recommended as it creates rough edges. If one side is treated and the other side is untreated, then you need to cut the wood with the treated side up.
Treating and Painting
When it comes to painting and treating chipboard there are a few tricks to making it work. First, wipe with a damp cloth to remove any oils. Cover with a sheet while it dries so it doesn’t get dusty or any particles on it. Next, use a medium grit sandpaper to sand smooth. Then wipe smooth again. You will need to prime your chipboard to prevent moisture damage. It also helps with the paint application. Apply 2-3 coats of primer because chipboard is very rough and porous.
When it is time to paint you will want to purchase an acrylic paint or a paint without a heavy water or oil base. It may take a few coats to cover the board completely. Next, you will need to seal your chipboard with a clear sealant. Now you have a beautiful, affordable piece of wood!
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