Choosing the right type of board
If you want a painted finish, a board with a dense even texture, such as MDF, gives the best finish. For unseen carcase work, such as kitchen units and flooring, the most economical boards are chipboard and flakeboard.
For garden projects or where moisture may be a problem, choose exterior grade WBP plywood. This type of board is available in thicknesses from 3mm to 30mm. Plywoods need an edging strip to disguise the striped appearance.
This is a specialist and relatively expensive form of plywood which is made up from conventional ply on the outside. However, the inner core is formed from hundreds of thin strips of solid wood glued side to side to form a very strong, stable board. It is good for veneering projects as the edge of the board is unlikely to distort and damage the veneer.
Cheap, multi-purpose boards are often used for drawer bottoms and for the backing of bookcases and cabinets. They are not as rigid as boards made from more plies such as 7-ply marine board.
A plywood made of water-resistant hardwoods sandwiched with a very strong phenolic glue which is not damaged by water, steam, temperature changes or mould damage.
A cheap board composed of large flakes or wood, glued together to form a thick layer of shavings lying parallel with the length of the board. The result is a strong board which is often used for shuttering by builders but may be used for loft flooring and other DIY projects.
Chipboard which is coated with a thin layer of plastic or melamine provides a decorative cleanable surface, used for storage units in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The manufacturers provide edging strip to hide the exposed edges.
One of the most economic boards for the DIYer. However, chipboard is not as strong as plywood and does not hold screws well.
This is produced by chopping up wood shavings into tiny fibres, soaked in water. The mix is then compressed and heated to form a board with a uniform texture. It is sold in thicknesses from 1.5mm to 12mm. It can be used for the backs of cabinets.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF)
Made up of fine particles bonded together with a resin. The close texture can be planed and shaped with a router. The surface is smooth, making it good for veneering or painting