Particle board is a great alternative to real wood and has the potential to look just as good. It’s more cost-effective than real wood and can be easily found at your local hardware store.
Despite this, many people hesitate when it comes to buying particle board because of how it looks. But the truth is, particle board can be just as aesthetically pleasing as real wood, especially when decorating a home.
What Is Particle Board?
Particle board is a type of material made from wood chips and resin that is then molded into boards and sheets. It is dense and more uniform than plywood and because of its inexpensive cost, it is oftentimes used to make affordable furniture.
Although it may look inexpensive to some, particle board can easily be made more attractive – you just have to know how to do it.
Preparing Particle Board
Before you begin the process of renovating your particle board, you want to make sure you have it ready to go first. You can do this by sanding the particle board to remove any scuffs and to make sure it is ready to receive its first coat of primer.
Be sure to sand your particle board as smoothly as you can, and do it over sheets of newspaper or trash bags to catch all the debris.
Next up, you will want to give your particle board a coat of primer. Using a primer will make sure that the paint you use over the particle board gets a good finish. Be sure that when choosing a primer you are getting one that doesn’t have a water base in it as this causes the particle board to swell.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a primer and paint that are either latex or oil-based. Once you have applied your first coat of primer, be sure to let it dry before adding on your second coat.
After the priming is done, you will also want to make sure that you are sealing up the edges of your particle board. If not, you can hurt yourself thanks to the sharpness of them. You can also use a primer on the edges or you can use a drywall compound to seal the edges.
Once you have applied the primer and taken care of the edges, you may also want to add on a glaze to make your particle board look shinier. Be sure that in between layers of adding the glaze you are wiping any excess off your paint brush so that it isn’t building up.
If you want to add texture to your glaze, lightly tap your paint brush onto the particle board to create an effect.
After you have your particle board prepped, you’re ready to start painting.
Painting Your Particle Board
If you are looking to get your particle board to look as close to real wood as possible, you can have this effect by using a brown-tinted glaze to paint what will look like a wood grain onto your particle board. Once that’s done, simply add in a coat of varnish to finish off the design.
If you are looking to paint your particle board a different color, you can follow the same instructions we just mentioned, but use a different color paint instead of the brown color.
Refurbishing Old Particle Board
Many furniture manufacturers use particle board to create their furniture because it’s more cost-effective not just for them, but for their customers as well. The only issue with this is that particle board may not last as long when it is used to hold heavy household items such as a TV.
However, before you consider throwing out your old particle board furniture, take into consideration refurbishing it. To do this, you will need a few tools including a putty knife, some sandpaper, a paint brush, paint roller, paint tray, wood filler, cement, cloth, primer, paint, and a roller cover.
Once you have all of these materials you are ready to get started. The first thing you want to do is make sure you can fix any chips or scratches that may appear on your particle board. If you don’t, this could significantly affect how you go about using your particle board.
To fix this issue, use the wood filler we mentioned earlier to fill in any cracks that could easily cause your particle board to fall apart. Simply spread the wood filler into the affected areas using a putty knife, making sure you are setting it as smoothly as possible.
Keep in mind that once you have set the wood filler down you will need to let it dry overnight before you can continue to work on it. The next day, you can take your sandpaper and file down any parts of filler that may not have gone on smoothly.
Another common issue that people find when trying to refurbish particle board is that it has been damaged by water. This usually happens on particle board that hasn’t been laminated and has already been painted.
Unfortunately, water tends to cause particle board to create bubbles and stains and may eventually cause it to fall apart entirely. When this happens, there isn’t much you can do to salvage the damaged particle board. In fact, your best bet would be to simply cut away the damaged areas and work with what you have left.
If you do have to remove any water damage on the particle board, you can always fill it with the wood filler we mentioned earlier and then sand it to make sure it is as smooth as possible. Again, sanding the particle board is incredibly vital because it helps to take off any laminate that was previously on there and allows the new paint to go on much easier.
During the sanding process, don’t worry about getting all of the laminate off. The goal is to create enough texture on the material so that when you add the new paint, it sticks easily. As mentioned earlier, you also want to spend some time priming your particle board before you paint it.
Keep in mind that primers come in different shades, so be sure to pick one that matches the color you are planning to use.
After the primer has been applied, you must wait a full 24 hours before you can apply the paint to it. Once the primer has dried, you have to go over it with the sandpaper again, making sure to smooth out any rough edges.
Now, you’re ready to paint. Add two to three coats of paint to your particle board, depending on the color you are using.
Different Uses for Particle Board
Aside from using it as décor or in furniture, particle board is also used as flooring material. It is most commonly used to cover hardwood floors to keep them from getting scratched. It is also often used as a base when laying down flooring, but before doing so they have to be specially treated so that they aren’t prone to water damage or termite infestations.
Oftentimes, particle boards are also used in walls. They are great as a form of insulation and are incredibly cost-effective, which means they are frequently used. Believe it or not, particle boards are also perfect when it comes to creating false ceilings. They are perfect for keeping room temperatures intact and are usually used in auditoriums, cinemas and theaters.
More often than not, particle board is used in doors. The material can easily hold on to things such as hinges and screws and creates a flat and smooth surface.
Disadvantages of Using Particle Board
Particle board is cost-effective and easy to refurbish, but it isn’t always ideal to use. For one, it’s not great for holding heavy items as it does not hold up very well. This also means that it is less durable than plywood or real wood, so if you are looking for a piece of furniture that will last long, furniture made with particle board won’t be ideal.
Particle boards are also not great for the environment as they contain formaldehyde resin that could in turn transform to formaldehyde gas, which is not good for humans. Again, using real wood would be ideal as it doesn’t have any of these added chemicals in it.
As we mentioned earlier, particle board does not do well in moisture. This means if you are planning on using it for something that involves a lot of water or humidity, chances are it will not last very long.
Particle board is incredibly common and becoming a cost-effective way for people to design their homes the way they have always imagined. The best part is, you can always refurbish particle wood or turn it into just about anything you want. All you need is some tools and a little bit of elbow grease to do so.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.