Pressboard vs. Particle Board: Which to Choose?

Pressboard vs. Particle Board: Which to Choose?

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If you are planning on building something around your house, especially low-cost furniture, then two of the materials you have at your disposal include pressboard and particle board. While they might sound similar, they are actually two fairly different things. Let’s figure out what both pressboard and particle board are, what makes them similar and different, and which is best used for specific applications.

Are Pressboard and Particle Board the Same?

No, although many people use these terms interchangeably, pressboard and particle board are not the same things. As you are about to find out below, although they might look similar, they are actually much more different than they are the same.

Pressboard and Particle Board: The Basics

Before we start talking about similarities and differences, let’s first figure out what both pressboard and particle board are.

What Is Pressboard?

First, we have pressboard, which is technically a type of engineered wood. Pressboard is made by taking laminated wastepaper or textile pulp, mixing them with various resins and adhesives to form a slurry, which is then poured into a mold and pressed together under pressure and heat, which results in a solid panel.

Pressboard isn’t overly durable or water resistant, but it is fairly lightweight, easy to work with, and cost-effective. Pressboard is often used to make the back panels of televisions and radios, as well as to make fairly low-end furniture. It may also be used for decorative purposes.

What Is Particle Board?

We then have particle board, which is another type of engineered wood. Particle board is made by taking old wood chips and sawdust and mixing them with resin and adhesive. This is then poured into a mold, and using great amounts of heat and pressure, is formed into a panel.

If particle board needs to be stronger, it may be coated or veneered for added durability. Particle board is generally designed for use as floor or wall underlayment and for the construction of low-end furniture and cabinets.

Similarities of Pressboard and Particle Board

Now that we know what both pressboard and particle board are, let’s figure out what makes the two similar.

1. They Are Engineered Wood

The most basic similarity is that these are two types of engineered wood. In one way or another, wood has been broken down, mixed with other substances, and then formed back into a solid panel meant to somewhat resemble real wood. Neither are actual solid lumber.

2. They’re Good for Interior Use

Another shared similarity between pressboard and particle board is that they are ideal for interior use. The fact of the matter is that neither of these materials deal with moisture well. Not only are they not waterproof in the least, but they really aren’t moisture-resistant either. These just aren’t materials that you want to use for outdoor applications, or even for indoor purposes where a lot of moisture is involved. They won’t hold up well at all.

3. The Appearance

Another thing that is quite similar is the appearance of the two. Both feature very rough appearances.

Yes, particle board may be laminated or covered in veneer at times, but the most basic version of it is not. Therefore, both generally have light brown color with a very rough texture. So, although they may at times both be used for making furniture, to make them look nice, they do really need to be coated in an additional layer.

I wrote more about how particle board can be made to look nice here.

4. They’re Low Cost

The other shared similarity here is that both particle board and pressboard are some of the cheapest engineered woods out there at this time. If you are looking for cost-effective building materials, it really doesn’t get any cheaper than particle board and pressboard.

5. They Are Eco-Friendly

Because both products are made out of old waste wood, they are generally considered to be quite eco-friendly.

Differences Between Pressboard and Particle Board

Now that we know what makes them similar, let’s figure out what makes pressboard and particle different from each other.

1. Durability

One difference between pressboard and particle board is that the former is slightly less durable than the latter. Now, make no mistake about it, because neither of these things is very durable. They don’t have much impact resistance, they can’t hold much weight, and they break rather easily. That said, the way in which pressboard is made does generally make it less durable than particle board.

2. Moisture Resistance

Another thing worth noting here is that, while both particle board and pressboard aren’t very resistant to water if you get particle board coated with veneers, it increases its overall moisture resistance. If this is the case, then you could technically consider particle board to be more waterproof than pressboard.

3. General Applications

The next difference here is that particle board is generally used for low-end furniture and cabinetry, desks, and sometimes even for interior wall sheathing, although not often. It is also used as a base for wood flooring, carpet, and parquet flooring. Pressboard on the other hand is often used to make the rear panels of televisions and radios, for electrical insulation, and sometimes for low-end furniture.

4. The Construction

Keep in mind that particle board is made with wood chips or fibers, whereas pressboard is made with laminated waste paper or textile pulp.

Pressboard vs. Particle Board: Which Should You Use?

If you are making low-end furniture, cabinets, or underlaying a floor, then particle board is the way to go. Although you can use pressboard for the rears of TVs and radios, as well as for electrical insulation purposes, the chances of you using or needing it at home aren’t huge. It is also used for making things like file folders, document storage, and other such applications. The simple reality is that you probably won’t have any use for pressboard at home.


Now that you know what both pressboard and particle board are used for, you can choose the right one for your next project.