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What is Particle Board?

Particle board (chip board) is an engineered composite wood made from recycled materials. The tiny wood chunks and sawdust that would normally end up in a landfill are bound with pressure, heat, and a urea formaldehyde resin. Unlike solid wood, the structural strength comes from the resin glue and not the wood itself. For this reason it’s not very strong or resistant to moisture. Particle board is not meant to be a finished product that you paint or stain, that is why most particle board products have a veneer. Particle board furniture can be designed to be taken apart, but it can be a challenge to put back together if something breaks. Place a piece of particle board next to a piece of solid wood and the difference in quality can be like night and day.                  


                    Particle Board                                                           Solid Wood

  Particle Board         solid wood

 


Where is it found?

Particle board is commonly found in: countertops, door cores, flooring, kitchen cabinets, shelving, as well as office and home furniture. Particle board furniture is an inexpensive alternative to solid wood that has really caught on with furniture and big box retailers. It has become so commonplace that many people don’t even know that they own particle board furniture. 


Veneer/Laminate

You may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve never seen anything that looks like that in any furniture store.” The reason you may not recognize it is because the manufacturers cover the furniture in either a veneer or laminate to disguise the fact that it’s not solid wood. A wood veneer is a very thin (normally thinner than 1/8”) layer of hardwood and a laminate is a plastic layer with wood grain printed on it. Particle board furniture with a wood veneer or laminate will break down over time and stop being an attractive piece. A common issue is when the laminate or veneer starts to peel or chip; the exposed particleboard can begin to crumble as you can see in the picture below. 

particle board damage

 

Comparative Chart
Particle Board Furniture Stuart David Furniture
Almost impossible to repair/modify Can be repaired and modified
Weak in compression and tension Strong in compression and tension
Doesn’t hold nails or screws well. Holds nails and screws extremely well. 
Uninsurable  Insurable
Drawer boxes and bottoms may be flimsy Drawer boxes and bottoms are sturdy, solid wood and plywood
Backs are most likely cardboard. Backs are plywood or solid wood.
Degrades rapidly when in contact with moisture More resistant to moisture, but will eventually warp and crack
When poorly made, products can look cheap with a printed-on grain Natural beauty of solid wood is plain and has no comparison
Urea formaldehyde glue holds the wood chips and dust together The fibers in solid wood are strong and hold together naturally
Limited lifespan Will last decades and beyond

 

Uninsurable

A couple of years ago (before I started working for Stuart David) I worked with the moving company Atlas, which is based out of Modesto. There was one job where the driver and I had to pick up a shipment from a warehouse in Florida and transport it to the new address in Kansas. The shipment had been in storage for around a month when we picked it up. It was for a military family moving from one base to another. Being a military move, one of the perks for the customer was that they didn’t have to pay for it. The customer decided to pay the moving company out of pocket for insurance though, normally a smart investment. We started unloading in the middle of the day, a hot sun beating down on us all. While unloading boxes, the furniture and bigger items became visible. So the customer began directing traffic if you will, telling us what she wanted and where. There was one very tall white dresser she wanted in the back of the closet at the top of the stairs of her two-story house. When we got it up there we unwrapped it, stood it up and found that it was standing lopsided. Looking on the bottom we found that one of the legs had broken almost completely off, a portion of the thin shelf above also ripped off and was still attached to the leg.  

Seeing the damage the customer wanted to know how the moving company would compensate her because she had paid for insurance. We had to tell her that, unfortunately, the insurance does not cover any particle board furniture. She was very upset at that (which is completely understandable), and began a line of questioning as to why she wasn’t informed of that and asked us to pay for it to be fixed or replaced. We brought out the contract she signed with the insurance information on it and showed her where it stated that particle board was not insurable under any plan and would not be fixed or replaced. We also had to explain that we could not know where the damage had come from. Since we were not the ones who packed/loaded her first house and our company was not the one who stored the furniture for a month, there was really no way of knowing where the damage had happened. Since particle board furniture is nearly impossible to repair, her only alternative was to replace the entire piece. I felt terrible for her but was unable to do anything to help. We went back to unloading and when all was said and done, two more pieces of furniture were broken to the extent that they were unusable (a TV stand and a bedside table). That customer wasn’t alone. Many military and other families that move often face this problem. Much of the “inexpensive” furniture tends to break during a move or shortly there after and they get stuck holding the pieces. The worst part is when moving insurance is purchased people have a false sense of security thinking that everything is covered. This experience leads me to tell every customer to save up and buy quality furniture so they don't have to face the same problem.  


Find Your Solution at Stuart David

Buying quality furniture can be an investment that can be enjoyed years to come. But making an informed decision can be difficult with so many things like price, quality, and beauty to consider. At Stuart David, we simplify the process by not only giving you the information you need to make your decision but by also giving you a wealth of custom options to make your furniture fit you. No more going to store after store looking for a desk that you can make due with. Forget replacing your entertainment stand every other year. With Stuart David you get to pick the solid wood, size, style, configuration, finish, and hardware for furniture that will last for decades and beyond. When you purchase Stuart David furniture you know it was handmade from solid wood and other quality materials right here in Ceres, California. We believe in good business practices which is why we source all our solid wood from sustainable American forests, use environmentally-friendly wood finishes, and operate a modern recycling system. We also follow all California environmental standards ensuring our furniture is safe for your home or office, as well as better for the environment. Experience our 25,000 square foot factory showroom and get back that sense of security when buying furniture for your home or office. 

http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch10/final/c10s06-2.pdf

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-particle-board.htm#

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/heavier-plywood-particle-board-solid-wood-9...

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/solid-wood-furniture-vs-particle-board-9521...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/30/AR200805...

http://woodworking.about.com/od/typesofwood/p/ParticleBoard.htm


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3419 Railroad Avenue · P.O. Box 1009 · Ceres, California - 95307 (Map)

209.537.7449

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