People are often confused about what particle board is and when they should use it. In general, particle wood is a building material made from wood dust, chips and flakes that have been combined with resin and then formed into panels in a process using heat and pressure. But not all particle board is created equally, and it is important to understand the differences.

The smoothest variety is called MDF or medium density fiberboard and is typically used as a core material for countertops. Some cabinets are also made from this.

A similar product made from larger particles of wood is most often used as a underlayment material and is installed under carpet or vinyl flooring.

Larger pieces or flakes of wood are used for making products like wafer board or OSB (oriented strand board). Because the wood pieces are larger, these products have more structural strength. Typically they're used as sheathing on roofs and walls and for sub floors.

Finally plywood, which by definition is not particle board, is made from thin layers of solid wood, each of which is stacked perpendicular to next. The alternating grain pattern is what makes plywood so strong.

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