Sometimes we face the challenge of choosing between various materials for the same task or furniture. There are so many things that you have to consider, like the cost, durability, aesthetics, and so on. Plywood and particle board are similar types of materials that can be used alternatively, or maybe not. The usage or application of either of these materials depends on a lot of factors. While both materials are available in similar sheets and varying thicknesses, you might not know how each of them can be used at home. Here’s a comparison on particle board vs plywood.

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What is a particle board?

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Made by compressing wood chips together

Particle board is a wood-based material that is made by compressing wood chips with the help of glue. The wood chips in the surface layer are thinner than those in the middle layer, so the surface of the particle board is denser and more compact than the middle. The amount of glue used in particle boards is 10%.

Advantages of particle board

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Particle board is light in weight

Now that you know what particle board means, it is important to differentiate clearly between the advantages of particle board vs plywood. Particle board has plenty of advantages in its kitty that can make it the ideal choice for a lot of things.

  • The surfaces of particleboard is usually smoother than that of plywood
  • Particle boards are created using scraps of other lumber products, which makes it environment-friendly
  • Particle boards are very light in weight. Furniture made from these boards is relatively easy to transport and move around
  • Particle board is definitely more cost effective than plywood

Disadvantages of particle board

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Particle board might not be very strong

Now that you know the advantages of using particle board for your interiors, you must know that it is not perfect. There are many disadvantages of using particle board vs plywood at home. Let’s look at some of them:

  • When compared to plywood, particle board is not considered very strong or durable
  • The softer and more brittle composition of particle boards makes it prone to damage
  • Particle boards loses most of their strength in moisture and becomes swollen
  • Particle boards can be toxic. The manufacturing process uses urea formaldehyde resin which can release formaldehyde gas

Where to use particle board?

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Ideally used in flooring and fittings

Particle boards are versatile and one can use it in numerous ways at home. It can be used in floors, fittings and fixtures, as a base for parquet floors, as a base material for covering strips, furniture and much more. The most exciting part about particle boards is that they can be used for a lot of DIY projects as they are available easily and are inexpensive. So if you love doing up your home on your own, then particle board should be your go to option.

Grades of particle board

Particle board is available in different grades that are defined by their usage and application. Here are some grades that you can find particle board in:

  • Industrial Grade (M2 and M3) – Can be used in cabinets, furniture and fixtures
  • Commercial Grade (MS) – Can be used in cabinets and laminated panels
  • Countertop Grade (M2) – This grade can be used in post-formed countertops and laminated panels
  • Shop Grade (M1) – Economy panel for non-structural applications

What is plywood?

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The layers of wood sheet in plywood are called piles

Plywood is an engineered wood sheet material made up of fine layers or flimsy strands of wood veneers attached together placing wood grains together. The layers are known as ‘piles’ hence the name plywood. The more the layers, the thicker the plywood sheet will be. In construction, it can come in use in walls, floors, roofs, stairs and so on. You can use plywood extensively in furniture-making.

Advantages of plywood

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Plywood is perfect for intricate wood-work

Like every other material, plywood has some great advantages when it comes to being used in construction activities. When you are planning to use plywood at home, you should know why it will be a good idea:

  • Plywood is considered to be stronger than other wood-based sheet products, like MDF
  • Plywood has endless usage, both indoors and outdoors
  • Different densities of plywood can be used for different purposes, which makes it versatile
  • Plywood is a great material for intricate wood-work
  • Due to the large panel sizes of plywood, you can use it to cover huge areas
  • It can hold crews well

Disadvantages of plywood

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Plywood can be a tad bit expensive

Plywood is great but which material comes without any flaws? This also has its set of disadvantages and you should be aware of these before you use it at home.

  • It is a little expensive when compared to other wood-based sheets
  • The edges of plywood have to be finished with either laminate or veneer
  • Plywood is a little difficult to cut and mould
  • Laminate sheets have to cover most commercial grade plywood

Where to use plywood?

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Ideally used for cabinets, doors and shutters

Now coming to the real deal. Do you know where you can use plywood at home? You know what it is and what are the pros and cons of using plywood, but when it comes to selecting it for your home furniture or interiors, you should know the perfect utilisation for it. At home, you can use plywood for floors, wardrobes, cabinets, doors, shutters and walls. It can come in use as headboards and footboards, wall paneling and as a structure for upholstered furniture. You can treat plywood to be resistant to hazards such as bugs, fire, mold and water.

Grades of plywood

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Available in various grades

You can easily differentiate between materials by their grades. The amount of defects and the work that goes into repairing the materials determines its grade. There is a mark or stamp on every material grade and you can identify it easily. These are the grades that plywood is available in:

  • S Grade (highest) – only minor knots and characteristics
  • BB Grade (medium) – spliced-in oval patches replace any major knots and defects
  • WG Grade (lower) – open defects on smaller knots with some repaired larger knots
  • C Grade (lowest) – open defects allowable

The Verdict

Given all the advantages and disadvantages, when you compare particle board vs plywood, the winner is definitely plywood. But however, this does not mean that you turn your head away from particle board. As we mentioned, particle boards too have their set of uses and advantages. If those work for you, then you should definitely go for it. Think long-term and weigh the pros and cons of both the materials before making a decision.

We hope this helped you. If you want to know more about MDF and plywood, read this: MDF Vs Plywood: Choosing the Right Material.

Check out this visual guide to both materials.

Have something more to add? Write to us at, editor@livspace.com.