In this article we explain what chipboard is used for? Chipboard is neither a softwood or a hardwood and is actually a man made type of fibre board, also known as particle board. Chipboard has a wide range of uses and it's very popular because it is one of the cheapest to buy in the UK. It is strong, hard wearing, and when covered with some type of veneer or melamine, it actually looks really good.
We answer a lot of questions about chipboard, but just below we have created a quick jump to section, if you want to know a specific detail. If you want to know just about everything about chipboard, then please feel free to read through the information below.
What is Chipboard made of?
Chipboard is made from wood shavings, wood chips and sawdust. These are compressed together using a natural synthetic resin and formed into boards. For flooring they are usually left in this natural state once they have been made, cut to size and sanded.
When chipboard is to be used for things like kitchen cupboard shells or office furniture, it will have a laminate or veneer glued on to it to make it look better.
How is Chipboard made?
What is Chipboard used for?
Chipboard is a really popular choice, mainly because it is one of the cheapest boards to buy. Some buyers will refer to this as particle board. Chipboard is used a lot to make furniture, headboards, shelves, desks and tables and will usually be covered with a veneer to make it look better. (White veneer remains the most popular but you can get other types of veneer)
Chipboard (tongue and groove) is also popular for flooring attics (roof spaces) and used inside sheds and many garden buildings.
It can never be used outside as the rain will destroy it very quickly. It is also quite a heavy board. It is sold as a tongue and grove board which is ideal for flooring. The boards interlock together and that of course ensures secure joints and good overall strength.
What size of Chipboard can you buy?
You can buy chipboard in its natural state or covered in a veneer with a white veneer being the most popular. It can be bought in sheets of various sizes.
- You can buy chipboard in different thicknesses and includes 15, 18 and 22 mm
- You can buy chipboard in different lengths and includes 2400, 2440 mm
- You can buy chipboard in different widths and includes 153, 229, 381, 457, 533, 600 mm
Chipboard can also be bought for flooring, particularly for roof space floors, and for shed floors. Typical sizes for that are:
- 2400 x 600 x 18mm
- 2400 x 600 x 22 mm
The 22 mm is the strongest board
How much does Chipboard cost in the UK?
The exact price will depend on which store or builder's yard you buy it from. It will also depend on which thickness you pick, which size you pick, and whether it is laminated or not. We have shown a few examples just below which uses average UK prices.
- 2400 x 600 x 18mm sheet of chipboard (not laminated) costs around £20
- 2400 x 600 x 22 mm sheet of chipboard (not laminated) costs around £25
- 2400 x 600 x 15 mm sheet of chipboard (laminated) costs around £19
- 2400 x 600 x 18 mm sheet of chipboard (laminated) costs around £25
Where can you buy Chipboard?
All builder's yards and the majority of DIY stores will stock chipboard of some kind. That includes B&Q, Screwfix, Wickes, Homebase etc and most local builder's yards will also hold chipboard. You tend to get a better deal at builder's yards if you are buying a larger quantity at the same time. Also be aware of delivery charges.
What is Chipboard paper?
Chipboard paper is a thick fibre paper and pretty similar to cardboard in nature but it is not corrugated. Chipboard paper ranges widely in thickness. It is sold from 20 points to 85 points (thin to thick). Chipboard can be used to create thickness or texture on a scrapbook page and is often used to make cut-out letters.
Chipboard makes use of waste wood that can't be used for anything else, so in that sense it is better for the environment. It does however use a lot of glue and resin and that is a downside.
Chipboard is strong. Its strength is really determined by its thickness and it is available in 15, 18 and 22 mm thicknesses. 18mm is used for flooring as it strikes a nice balance between strength and weight. 22mm is better for sheds or garden outbuildings as heavier weights tend to be kept in those. It is strong as long as the moisture is low. Anywhere that has a lot of damp or moisture is not a good area to use chipboard.
Yes chipboard is heavy and the thicker it is the heavier it will be. You can lift a 2.4 metre x 600 mm sheet of chipboard by yourself, but ideally it is a lot easier to handle with 2 people. If you need to saw it, again 2 people is better as it can be quite heavy to move around into various sawing positions.
Chipboard is easy to cut but it does tend to leave a rough edge. Like most particle boards chipboard is made from wood chips, sawdust and glue and when a blade contacts that there is disintegration of the material. It is always best to use as fine a blade as you can when using a hand or electrical saw.
This can be very problematic if it has a veneer as the edge will look chipped. A laminate blade which is very fine is much better to use for this type of cutting.
It isn't ideal to paint directly over chipboard. If you have to paint it then always use an acrylic paint. Do not use water based or oil based paints on chipboard as they will soak into the chipboard and it looks dreadful. When chipboard has a veneer on it, then you should first use a primer and then whatever type of paint you like on it.
You can plane chipboard but try to avoid that if you can. Chipboard is quite hard and the glue used is really hard and will damage the blade on your plane. Where possible use a sharp saw to cut or trim chipboard. You can also sand the chipboard but again it is tough to do. If the chipboard is covered in veneer or melamine, then using a plane doesn't really work and will leave a horrible finish. If you need to cut a small piece of chipboard, a fine blade on an electric saw will leave about as good a finish as you can get.
We would never recommend plastering over chipboard. Plaster is wet and the chipboard will swell with the moisture. It is a better idea to remove any chipboard and replace with plasterboard which is designed for plastering over.
Chipboard can be brought to a recycle centre. Some gardeners will use this in their compost heaps. Organic gardeners most likely will not use it as it has synthetic resins, often including formaldehyde, and those are not suitable for any type of vegetable plots.
We would never recommend using chipboard outside as it can not deal with moisture of any kind. Some chipboards are sold as moisture resistant, but that refers to internal moisture. For example, an internal floor inside a house will get very little moisture so perfect for using there. With sheds and outbuildings, a moisture treated chipboard will also be OK. However, if any chipboard is exposed to rain, then it will eventually disintegrate.
Chipboard is neither a softwood or a hard wood. It is a manmade particle board that uses wood chips, sawdust and glue which is compressed and formed into boards.