By Abhijit Phadke
Particle board furniture has become quite popular these days, thanks to its lower costs. But how well does it perform when compared to furniture made from solid wood. In this article we look at the differences between particle board and solid wood furniture.
Differences in their making:
Particle boards are engineered wood products, that are made from very small particles of wood (such as sawdust and small wood flakes). These wood particles are often the by-products that are obtained while making other types of wood such as plywood or blockboards, and hence particle boards are very cost-effective to make.
The wood particles are mixed with glue (such as Urea formaldehyde resin) and the mixture is firmly pressed together using a hot-press machine to make these wooden boards or sheets.
Solid wood on the other hand is a natural wood product, that is obtained by felling trees, and cutting the logs down to smaller sizes and shapes so that the wood can be used for making furniture.
Particle boards are much cheaper compared to solid wood, as also cheaper than all the other kinds of engineered woods such as plywood, blockboards, MDF (medium density fibre-boards)and HDF (high density fibre-boards).
Solid wood furniture is costly but its much stronger and more durable than particle board furniture.
Solid wood is much stronger as it is a natural homogeneous material. It is categorized as hardwood and softwood. Examples of hardwood are teak, sheesham wood etc. and examples of softwood are mango wood, pine wood etc.). Hardwood is denser and stronger than softwood.
In any case, particle boards are lighter, less dense and weaker than any of the solid woods used in furniture making. An easy way to judge the strength of any furniture is to check its weight (heavier is usually better) and to tap it with the fingers to check the density (particle boards sounds hollow, while natural wood sounds strong and solid.
Resistance to water:
Good quality solid woods such as teak, have a natural oil content, and hence can resist water well. That's the reason, teak furniture is often used outdoors in the form of garden tables and chairs.
Particle boards are very sensitive to water and even moisture. Usually the boards are prelaminated and the lamination offers a bit of protection against moisture and humidity, but the boards still can get damaged if exposed to water.
There are merits and demerits of each type. In the case of particle boards, one can say that since its made of waste wood particles it helps preserves the environment by saving wood and trees. But the fact still remains that it is made using formaldehyde resins which are not very eco-friendly.
In the case of solid wood, any kind of artificial resins are completely avoided, hence it is very natural and safe to use, however to get solid wood, trees have to be cut down, and can be a cause of deforestation in case the wood has been obtained from forests, instead of managed plantations.
Durability:Furniture made from Solid wood is much more durable. In fact, in many cases good quality teak wood pieces are known to last for more than 100 years, serving more than one generation. In the case of Particle boards, most of the shopkeepers I have met themselves say 'You can expect a 5 years of lifetime'.
To summarize, solid wood furniture is better and stronger compared to particle board furniture, but it is also much costlier.
The choice of which one to buy is often based on individual needs. Those who are looking for short-term cost-effective options, find buying particle board furniture more convenient, while those who are willing to spend more money for quality and durability can opt for solid wood furniture.