Particleboard is a composite panel product consisting of cellulosic particles of various sizes that are bonded together with a synthetic resin or binder under heat and pressure. Particle geometry, resin levels, board density and manufacturing processes may be modified to produce products suitable for specific end uses. At the time of manufacture, additives can be incorporated to impart specific performance enhancements including greater dimensional stability, increased fire retardancy and moisture resistance.
Today’s particleboard gives industrial users the consistent quality and design flexibility needed for fast, efficient production lines and quality consumer products. Particleboard panels are manufactured in a variety of dimensions and with a wide range of physical properties that provides maximum design flexibility for specifiers and end users.
Because particleboard is a type of unfinished composite panel made from residual wood fiber, such as chips and shavings, it is carefully value engineered for each application. This results in product solutions which are substantially less expensive than alternatives.
- Door Core
- Floor Underlayment
- Kitchen Cabinets
- Manufactured Home Decking
- Office and Residential Furniture
- Stair Treads
- Store Fixtures
Particleboard has excellent machining characteristics, which is important when post-forming high pressure laminate countertops.
Product Standards and Certification
The American National Standard for Particleboard (ANSI A208.1) is the North American industry voluntary standard. It classifies particleboard by density and strength and covers physical, mechanical and dimensional characteristics as well as formaldehyde levels. The Standard was developed through the sponsorship of the Composite Panel Association (CPA) in conjunction with producers, users and general interest groups. A summary of the ANSI Property Requirements is included in the Buyers Guide and copies of the Standard are available from CPA.
Third-party certification to ANSI Standards is required for many applications of composite panels. For example, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the physical properties of manufactured home decking to be third-party certified. In addition, many building code jurisdictions require the physical properties of particleboard underlayment and stair treads to be third-party certified. HUD and the states of California and Minnesota also require third-party certification of formaldehyde emissions for nearly all particleboard and MDF under their jurisdiction.
Formaldehyde Emission Limits
The standard has a tiered system of emission levels allowing either a maximum of 0.18 ppm or 0.09 ppm for industrial grades or 0.20 ppm for manufactured home decking. To meet the needs of the market many particleboard manufacturers have voluntarily developed ultra low-emitting and no added urea-formaldehyde (NAUF) products, so there are a wide variety of products available today with reduced formaldehyde levels, as well as a growing number of non-formaldehyde alternatives. Those companies currently producing NAUF products are identified in the product listings in the Buyers Guide.
In addition, CPA’s Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) program (to which a majority of the North American producers subscribe) requires emission limits no higher than the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (“CARB Rule”).
Finally, various overlays and surface treatments have been shown to significantly reduce product emissions. For additional information about emissions, see the CPA Technical Bulletin “VOC Emission Barrier Effects.”
Detailed Product Information and Links to Producers
Detailed product information is available in the Product Locator.
Available from the association bookstore:
ANSI Particleboard Standard (2009)
Available for download:
Dimensional Stability of Particleboard and MDF Technical Bulletin [PDF]
Minimizing Warp in Laminated Particleboard and MDF Technical Bulletin [PDF]
Particleboard and MDF for Shelving Technical Bulletin [PDF]
MDF Mouldings Technical Bulletin [PDF]
Storage and Handling of Particleboard and MDF Technical Bulletin [PDF]
Particleboard for Stepping Technical Bulletin [PDF]
Particleboard Underlayment Installation Technical Bulletin [PDF]