If you have ever been to a big box retailer you have almost certainly come across particle board products. In fact, most of you probably already own products made from this material. But for many, owning real wood furniture and home decor products has been out of reach for a long time due to high costs and lack of availability. Below, we will discuss some of the pros and cons of both, and what we have done to make solid wood products available to everyone.
Manufacturing and Assembly
Particle Board: Constructed from the byproducts of real wood manufacturing waste. Sawdust and other small particles of wood are collected and mixed with special glues and then pressed into flat boards by large machines. The resulting product is a sheet of material that looks like fine particles of wood without any grain patterns. It is extremely easy to use in manufacturing as almost every piece is identical to each other. This, combined with its lower material cost, makes for an affordable product that is easily mass produced.
Solid Wood: Solid wood comes straight from the tree itself. Many types of wood are available with a wide range of natural colors and grain patters. To make slabs of solid wood, tree trunks are cut with large saws into predetermined thicknesses, widths and lengths. There are sustainable sources of wood and not so sustainable sources which can greatly effect pricing. All solid wood has natural variations, imperfections and will warp to varying degrees after cutting from the tree. For these reasons, almost all solid wood products are more expensive and more difficult to work with in a mass production environment.
Particle Board: Most products will last around 1-3 years under light to normal use (assuming no accidents or spills on them) or up to 5 years under ideal conditions. This is because the particles of wood are held together with glue that will break down over time and with changes in humidity. Particle board is also very susceptible to damage and wear, so it will likely last even less than 1 year around pets, children and especially water.
Solid Wood: While there are hardwoods and softwood, just about all solid wood will last significantly longer than its particle board counterpart. While particle board can last a few years at best, solid woods will last decades. Water and humidity are much less likely to deal significant damage to solid wood as well. While the occasional drink spill will almost certainly ruin a particle board table top, a solid wood top will likely show almost no signs of damage. There is no glue holding solid wood together so it doesn't deteriorate over time in the same way as particle board either.
Particle Board: This part goes almost without saying as almost all of us have experienced a failure due to lack of strength of a particle board product. With very little weight applied, shelves will sag, walls will bow, and products will simply break in half. The inherent strength of particle board is very low and should not be used when any real weight or force will be applied.
Solid Wood: The hands down winner when comparing the two. Building, houses, bridges, towers, ladders, and much more have and continue to be built with solid wood due to its strength. Solid Wood is able to support substantial loads and is often times not the weakest link in eventual failures.
Particle Board: You will almost never see particle board visible on a finished product due to its sand like appearance. Small parts of wood are connected together in a homogeneous looking piece and are almost always covered with a thin laminate that attempts to replicate a solid wood look. This however leaves lines at every edge where the laminate meets up and can easily peel, rub off or otherwise get damaged. When damage does occur to the laminate finish, there is usually no way to correct or fix it.
Solid Wood: When a product is made from solid wood, it is almost never covered with another opaque material and most solid wood furniture and decor is never even painted. Beautiful grain patters are visible and natural variations in each piece add charm and character. This is often times enhanced with aging or staining of the wood to tint the overall color to match a different color pattern. The grain is still visible and stain colors vary from whites, to browns, to even greens and reds. If damage occurs to solid wood, it is often times easily repaired with touch up stain or sanding.
Particle Board: Typically one of the cheapest ways to make furniture and decor. Due to be constructed with byproducts, and ease of manufacturing, most products found in large retailers will be made of particle board at "unbeatable prices". The main problem with the low price is that you will need to purchase the same piece ever 1-3 years on average, quickly making the total cost of ownership very high.
Solid Wood: Solid woods can be extremely expensive or relatively affordable. Exotic woods that take hundreds of years to grow can cost thousands of times more than the same amount of particle board. However, at JustKnotWood, we want to make solid wood products affordable to everyone. To do this, most of our products are made with southern pine grown in areas not far from our shop in Louisiana. The southern pine we use has beautiful wood grains, stains great and lasts a long time. It is also a very fast growing tree that is highly sustainable. For this reason, the cost of our wood is substantially less than most other types of wood available. Over the course of its usable life, our products made with solid wood will save you tons of money and with prices starting close to their particle board counterparts.
Interested in seeing what we have to offer? Visit our website at JustKnotWood and join the thousands of customers already enjoying our handcrafted solid wood products.