Understanding Chipboard

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

As an interior designer or a furniture manufacturer, when it comes to choosing the best wood material for your project, there are few things to consider. For instance: 

  1. The quality of the wood panel

  2. The colour varieties

  3. The cost of the panel materials 

  4. Availability of the panel materials 

  5. But most importantly, is the purpose or application of panel materials in the project that you are working on. 

Let’s get to know more about the wood panels available in the market today, we shall talk about each type of the panels from the Chipboard, MDF, Blockboard to Plywood.


Chipboard, aka Particle Board, is among the cheapest and most popular furniture boards you can find the market, for example, most of IKEA furniture are made with Chipboard. Chipboards are made from wood chips, pressed together with a type of glue called Urea Formaldehyde (UF), they are compressed in high pressure and high heat to form a panel. In Malaysia, Chipboard usually comes in 2 standard sizes: 1220x2440mm and 1830x2440mm, with standard thicknesses from 9mm, 12mm, 15mm, 16mm, 18mm and 25mm. Common Chipboards with UF glue are not water resistant, it will expand if gets in contact with water. Therefore, for applications such as kitchens or bathroom where moisture is high, Chipboards made with Melamine Urea Formaldehyde glue (MUF) glue is suitable. This type of Chipboard is moisture resistant (usually appears green in the chips), and they commonly are widely available in 16mm and 18mm thick only. However, it’s important to keep in mind that MUF Chipboard is not water resistant but merely moisture resistant, therefore any direct contact with water is not recommended. 


Common Application

UF Chipboard : Wardrobe, Bedroom Furniture, Shoe Cabinets/ Storage Cabinets, Living Room Furniture, Office Furniture

MUF Chipboard: Kitchen cabinets and Bathroom cabinets (Outdoor application NOT recommended) 


Pros & Cons

Pros: Cheap; very easy to apply; widely available in the market; comes with various choices of surface. 

Cons : Strength is not very good; relatively heavy; easily damaged; screw holding property is not great. 


Surface Options : 

Depending on the type of furniture you make, whether your quality requirement is high or low, there are wide range of surfaces you can choose to apply on Chipboard. Here we name a few of the surfaces you can find and spot in the furniture products in Malaysia : 


Paper Laminated Chipboard (UF):

Where you can spot them? : Cheap shoe cabinets/Book Shelves/Wardrobe you can find at Tesco, Giant, or local furniture shop. Some of IKEA range is paper laminated chipboard too. Ideal for short term usage with a budget. 


Pro : cheapest decor surface, suitable for mass production of the same model, comes in woodgrain and other colours. 


Cons: can be easily scratched and worn away, will damage if contact with small amount of water, surface usually doesn’t come with much of 3D effects or ’touch’, not so widely available for smaller projects as these type of materials are usually sourced in big volume. 


PVC/Foil Laminated Chipboard (UF): 

Where you can spot them? : Local Furniture shop bedroom furniture sets, wardrobes, some of Harvey Norman furniture range. Price is between Paper Laminated Chipboard and Melamine Faced Chipboard. 


Pros: PVC surfaces are highly moisture resistant, they can come in very realistic 3D effects, suitable for mid-range loose furniture. 


Cons: Not scratch or heat resistant, not widely available for small projects. 


Melamine Faced Chipboard (UF-MFC) 

Where you can spot them? : Majority of Office Furniture are made with UF-MFC, think of famous Malaysian office furniture brands such as Apex Office, VS Office, AM Office. Some mid-high range of Home furniture Malaysian brands use UF-MFC too, such as MixBox, Crown Furniture. 


Pros: Good quality surface with high scratch resistance and moisture resistance, comes in a big range of decor surfaces and touch, can come in most trendy designs including woodgrains, stone and fabric surfaces.  


Cons: Heavy, so if after the furniture is fully installed, especially if they are big, it’s best not to move them again as you may damage them. 


Melamine Faced Chipboard (MUF-MFC) 

Where you can spot them? : A lot of local kitchen cabinets maker have switched to using this material, so you can spot them in home kitchens, custom made wardrobes and other custom made furniture, commercial fittings. A lot of high-range kitchen cabinet brands use this material too. 


Pros: Good quality surface with high scratch resistance and moisture resistance, comes in a big range of decor surfaces and touch, can come in most trendy designs including woodgrains, stone and fabric surfaces. Very easy to apply. Board itself is moisture resistant, and surface is moisture and heat resistant too. Widely available so even small projects can utilise this material. 


Cons: Some carpenters complain that this type of board is too heavy to use when compared with plywood. The strength of MUF-MFC is not as good as plywood so it’s best to wisely design the furniture with the strengths and weaknesses of the material used in mind. 


Conclusion :

Chipboard is one of the most widely available wood panel materials out there. The board itself is cheap, but depending on the decor surface applied on it, the price range can differ quite a lot. Depending on your application and requirement in terms of quality, budget, and quantity of the furniture you design and manufacture, there are a variety of types of decor surfaces you can consider. This material is not only cost effective, but is also environmental friendly as they are mostly made with plantation woods. With health consciousness in mind, there are a few more things to consider, but that’s another story to tell in coming articles. 


Hope you enjoyed this information, and leave a comment, feedback or more questions and we are willing to listen and answer them for you. We will also make a video to show you some of the manufacturing processes of the decor panels. Next, we will talk about MDF. Keep an eye !


#woodfacts #woodnerd #chipboard