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What Is Flakeboard?

A man working with MDF, a type of flakeboard.
Melamine covered flakeboard.
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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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Flakeboard is a term that often refers to a variety of manufactured wood products used in many aspects of construction. These products are made of smaller pieces of wood that are held together with resins, pressed into panels and cut into boards. There are many different types of these boards, which are often also called particleboards or chipboards. They are differentiated by the size of the wood pieces, and the strength of the finished product. Flakeboard is also the name of one of the companies that manufactures these products.

The different types of flakeboard can be made out of virtually any type of wood, with varied sources from whole logs to the trimmings and shavings from lumber mills. The boards are manufactured in the same basic way. First the wood particles are dusted or sprayed with some type of resin that acts as a bonding agent. The type of resin used varies depending on the type of board being manufactured. Then the particles are bonded or fused together using heat and pressure, which is commonly accomplished by pressing a mass of resin treated particles flat in a heated press. After this the product is cut into the desired length and width.

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Some of the different types of flakeboard include standard particleboard, waferboard, oriented strand board or OSB, and medium density fiberboard or MDF. Standard particleboard uses very small wood pieces such as wood chips, sawmill shavings, sawdust, and paper manufacturing byproducts. Waferboard uses larger chips of wood, usually rectangular in shape and uniform in size. OBS is made from pieces similar to those in waferboard, the pieces are oriented so that they face the same direction in each layer, with the directions of the layers running perpendicular to each other. MDF is made of very fine particles that are manufactured using a steam process that softens and changes them chemically and physically, resulting in an extremely smooth and versatile finished product.

Uses for flakeboard are numerous and varied. Stronger types have multiple construction uses such as structural panels, floor underlayment, walls, roof sheathing, and stair treads. Flakeboard is also used for shelving, cabinets, counter tops, furniture, and to build partitions. Use in construction and design is widespread. It is easy to work with, strong, durable, and often more economical than whole lumber.

Flakeboard can frequently have veneers applied to it to make it more attractive. Countless prints, solid colors and finishes are available, making it look like stone, marble, natural wood, or anything else a person could think up. During the manufacturing process additional substances can be added to make it resistant to fire, wear, and moisture, increasing its usefulness.

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