Chipboard vs Plywood

Choosing a material for whatever you are currently make is important to make sure we can achieve the quality and purpose of the project. However, the list of material we can use at one time can vary widely depend on your purpose and each one of them can have a different best application like with Chipboard vs Plywood. They may look similar but are very different and if you need to know more about these materials, go see their differences in our article below.

In this article, we are going to give you information about:
– What are Chipboard and Plywood
– What Chipboard and Plywood are made of
– Which is stronger between Chipboard and Plywood
– Which have smoother surface between Chipboard and Plywood
– How Chipboard and Plywood Handle Moisture
– How easy working with Chipboard and Plywood
– Which is heavier between Chipboard and Plywood
– Which is more affordable between Chipboard and Plywood
– Which is more environment friendly between Chipboard and Plywood
– Chipboard vs Plywood

Choosing a Material
Material is an important aspect we need to consider when deciding on many things such as when purchasing or making something because they will affect the final products and depend on what we are looking for, there must be a better material out there for our project. Expensive ones are not always the best but those made for the purpose or fit all the things we ask and need from the material will make it the best option and reflected on the final product. Read also: Plywood vs Solid Wood here.

Beside the natural product like lumber, human made several man-made products derived from wood as well since we have limited resource on the real thing and today, we can find several products that just as versatile as lumber and can be used to make or built many things. Depend on the quality and ratings, they can be very durable or weak so we can pick those matching our need. For example like those materials made for outdoor use and those that can only be installed indoor.

About Chipboard and Plywood
Among those many materials in the market, we are sure most of us already familiar with both of Chipboard and Plywood because they are often used and available widely. Both of them are a similarly man-made sheet lumber products. They are also made in a similar manner with the inclusion of adhesive and pressing method, resulting on the final units we often see in stores or already among those furniture in our house like those cabinets or shoe rack.

Before we are going further, Chipboard term is a bit confusing because according to Wikipedia it can means both particle board and paperboard which is clearly different since the material used are also different; particle board is made from saw and paperboard just like the name, it is made from reclaimed paper stock. The term Chipboard made from paper is generally used in the US while in the UK it means the other material. However, for this article, we decide to use the particle board since they are made from more similar material.

Making Chipboard and Plywood
Chipboard or Particle board is made from a waste of wood product by heat pressing wood chips, sawmill shavings or even sawdust and resin together. They are not that durable to begin with but the manufacturing process also used many other ingredients or chemicals such as for water resistant, fireproof, and insect proof. In the process they may use wax, dyes, wetting agents and release agents to achieve those performance. The manufacturing will start with mixing those resin, chemicals, and wood scrap and pour them to make a sheet.

The wood chips will be evenly distributed so the final product won’t be heavier on the top side while the compression process is used to create the tightest possible bond between the resin and wood bits on the particle board sheet multiple times. One of the most popular chipboard we may often see is OSB and this variant is slightly different due to the additional process or layering the strands of wood in a specific orientations. The material itself can be found on floor and wall basses.

At the other hand, Plywood is an engineered wood product and as you may already knew, they are made from wood veneer sheets by peeling the initial log. These veneer boards then are pressed and bonded together with a glue to create a solid piece we can find in many stores. This material manufacturing process is also called as cross-graining which is used to reduce the shrinkage and expansion as well as improving the strength consistency. The final product will have different grades and can be used for different things.

Plywood grades is a bit complicated because they are affected by many things including the initial material and other things put when making the product such as type of wood ply, thickness, adhesive and manufacturing or compaction process. Generally, lower grade can be used as subflooring in buildings or homes while the higher grade is commonly used to make cabinets or shelves. The types we can choose are widely vary such as softwood, hardwood, tropical, marine, flexible, decorative and craft so make sure to pick the one most suitable with your project.

Chipboard and Plywood Strength
One of the most common question when looking for a material is the strength and it is understandable because it will relate to the project and we need to pick the one matching our preference. On strength, Plywood will wins because considering the cross grain process pattern, the material will be stronger and even can be as strong as a real lumber depend on the grade and tree it was made added with the type of adhesive from manufacturing process.

At the other hand, Chipboard or particle board are strong yet not as strong as plywood because they only use wood particles and mainly got the strength from other material used like the resin. If we pick the soft plywood or those with less layers, both of them are easily bendable to make a lot of craft.

Chipboard and Plywood Surface
The next is how smooth the surface because it is also important if we need them to be on visible places and in this part, Chipboard or particle board will wins because it is not mad entirely from woods. At the other hand, Plywood can’t be very smooth due to cross-grain surface which is arranged to give it the strength but unfortunately not the look unlike decorative laminates which is distributed evenly. We can smoothen its surface with sandpaper but they won’t be as smooth as particle board.

Chipboard and Plywood Moisture Handling
Depend on what we need them for, we probably will look for those with some better ability on handling moisture and in this part, Plywood is better than particle board or chipboard since as it has been mentioned above, this man made material is available in several option and they have what called as Marine plywood which is more resistant to moisture. At the other hand, Chipboard will swell and expand when exposed to moisture and make it loses its strength along with the safety for it will absorb the moisture and making the material heavier.

Chipboard and Plywood Working
When working on something, we always want them to be easier and quick so we can work on other things as well or just to be more productive and to support this time efficient, we will need a material which is easier to handle. If what you are working in will need nails to be hammered into, the Plywood will be the better option because the cross grain pattern in this material will hold them in place while the softer and brittle composition of Chipboard may not hold up or even could fall apart.

Chipboard and Plywood Weight
Still depend on the project, we can prefer to use heavier or lighter material according to how we want the final product to be. In this part, Plywood is also winning because they are lighter than Chipboard or particle boards. The benefit is we can rest assure when building cabinets or shelves with lighter Plywood for it won’t be too heavy and risk the whole furniture to collapse under its own weight if made entirely of Chipboard.

Chipboard and Plywood Cost
Cost is something we often worry about and different project will demand a different budget as well or how many we are willing to spend. While price may vary from quality and thickness, generally, Chipboard is cheaper than Plywood which is making the material very popular among furniture manufacturers and homeowners. Commonly, Chipboard can be as cheap as half of Plywood or solid wood thus, we can save much using this material compared to the other when we only have less to spend.

Environment Friendly
Not all people will interest on this issue but environment friendly material is gaining more popularity and it is good to make people aware of how bad our nature have become when all trees are becoming building material. In this part, Chipboard is friendlier due to be made from scraps thus, there is no trees cut to make one.

Now, let’s compare Chipboard with Plywood. As you may already know, the main difference between these two similar building materials is how they are made and what they are made from because Plywood is made from wood veneer while Chipboard is from wood scraps. Plywood is stronger and have a variant that suit for application in places with moisture as well as lighter and easier to handle but Chipboard is more affordable and friendlier with environment.

Chipboard vs Plywood

- Made from wood scraps- Made from wood veneer
- Smoother surface- Rougher surface
- Not very strong- Stronger
- More affordable- More expensive
- Friendlier with environment- Less friendly with environment

All in all, both of them can match your current project depend on what you need them for. If you are looking for a stronger material with lesser weight and can be easily handled or need them to be placed outdoor, Plywood will be the better option.