High Density Fiberboard Vs. Wood


The use of composite materials for construction and product manufacturing has increased greatly over the past few decades, thanks in part to the innovation of dense fiberboards. These newer materials were developed as a replacement for standard wood products, such as plywood and natural wood veneers and flooring, to create a more stable matrix within the material for improved uniformity for cutting and shaping. High density fiberboard is one of these composite materials that is frequently used in lieu of wood.

Composition of Fiberboard

  • The process of manufacturing fiberboard combines natural wood fibers with synthetic polymer resins for bonding purposes. These materials are mixed and then molded together in a dry environment using high temperature and pressure to bond and shape the mixture into individual panels. This method of manufacture in a dry process helps to bond the elements together in a more uniform density that retains its composite structure in a way that wet-method processing cannot. High density fiberboard (HDF) is one such product.

Composite Wood Panels

  • The category of composite wood products such as plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB), and particle board differ from fiberboards in several ways. Although these products also involve the use of wood particles (strands, chips, and coarse sawdust) in their manufacture, the way in which they are combined tend to make them less stable under certain conditions. Plywood is made from thin veneers of wood-strand mixtures layered in sequences of right angles. Particle board is similar to fiberboard in its compression processing of bonders and wood particles, yet the result is a less stable material that tends to crumble at cut edges. OSB is perhaps the most solid of these, yet these panels will break when rendered into standard 4x8 sheets.

Standard Uses of Wood Panels

  • The general use of natural wood panels such as plywood and OSB is found most often in construction. OSB in particular resists surface abrasions that often occur when panels are installed for walls or floors. This becomes a factor that affects painting or laying of floor coverings, such as tiles and linoleum, that becomes more difficult when the surface is not smooth and even. Warping and swelling also affect finishes over time, and OSB resists these affects better than standard plywood products.

Uses of High Density Fiberboard

  • Fiberboards are often chosen for construction materials and wood product manufacturing. Flooring is a popular use of high density fiberboard over wood flooring. The reason most often cited is the durability and warp-resistant characteristics of HDF as compared to wood laminate flooring. Furniture manufacturers have opted for HDF for use as material for drawers, partitions, and upholstery backing for strength and resistance to moisture. Loudspeaker manufacturers often use HDF for its shaping versatility and overall positive acoustic response.

Other Uses of HDF

  • High density fiberboard is also used in door manufacturing. These products, usually referred to as solid-core doors, consist of a hard wood or wood-type center that is finished with veneers of several kinds of design styles and compositions. The advantage of using HDF vs. wood in the core again points to the moisture-resistant nature of fiberboard. Natural wood swells more than high density fiberboard, which is a critical aspect for any product that is veneered. The contrasting moisture content between the core of a door and its top layers results in cracking and separation of the veneer.

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