Particle Board vs MDF for Countertop (Which One Better?)

Wood fibers, dust, and chips are constituted to produce impressive composite wooden panels such as Particle Boards and Fiber Boards.

MDF is of better quality than Particleboard. While it has finer, and more compact grains, Particle Board has bigger and rougher grains that let in moisture and breaks off easily while drilling and cutting. MDF lasts longer and weighs more while the latter weighs less and is more prone to damage.

To understand their strengths and weaknesses and to be able to pick one against the other, let us discuss in detail how they are engineered, the difference between the two, and their reaction with elements found in the environment.

Particle Board vs MDF

What Is MDF?

MDF, short for Medium Density Fiberboard, is a wooden panel created by mixing wood fibers with wax then bonded using resin before it is pressed under high temperatures to form a solid panel.

In an MDF plant, wood or timber is cut into fine chips then washed after sorting them out to eliminate wood chips with defects.

Through a dry process where the components are: wood fibers (82%), resin glue (9%), water (8%), and paraffin wax (1%), the fiber chips are first heated for softening before it is fed into the defibrator and then later into the blowline where the bonding of the wood chips begins.

After the bonding and pressing are complete, the final product is cooled, trimmed into 4 by 8 feet sized boards then they are left to dry in the final chamber of the blowline.

The wax is meant to coat the wood fibers to improve moisture resistance while resin glue is the adhesive that binds fibers into a solid piece.

When making MDF boards, moisture resistance is the key factor and that is why pine trees as softwoods and sometimes eucalyptus as hardwoods (because of their oil content) are used to ensure quality and strength.

MDF boards are mostly available in laminated forms otherwise known as veneer MDF. But mostly you can get them in laminated or unlaminated forms.

As a finished product, MDF boards are available in three qualities;

  1. Ultra-light MDF – commonly used.
  2. High moisture-resistant – which is green in color
  3. Fire-resistant MDF – these are blue or red.

Pro And Cons

Solid wood would be a better material to use on interior décor but because of its prices and availability, MDF as a product is a viable option.


  •   They are easily available in a variety of colors that replicate natural wood such as mahogany.
  •   They are consistent in size ensures equal measurements
  •   They are also consistent in strength and quality which equals uniformity.
  •   They can be painted e.g. white-colored boards can be transformed into a different color.
  •   They can be perfectly glued together in case of a needed extension.


  • When exposed to water, they swell and start breaking off.
  • Releases very soft dust when cutting which is a health hazard if inhaled.
  • Normal soft nails do not hold MDF for long therefore require special screws.

How Thick Should MDF Be For Countertops?

¾ inch is the best thickness for countertops. Thick enough to hold up weight and strong enough to provide stability. 

MDF boards come in a range of thicknesses starting from 1/8”, 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 3/4”, 1”, 1 1/4”, 11/2”, and 2”.

¾ inches is equivalent to 19.05mm is flat and stiff.

The advantage of using an average-sized engineered wood product for countertop application is that it mimics a concrete countertop.

A thinner panel will look and act flimsy while a size too large will look unprofessionally clumsy given that a solid (concrete) countertop on normal occasions should be ½ inch thick.

What Are Particle Boards?

Particle Board popularly known as Chip Board is a waste product engineered by mixing wood chips with a binder or preferred glue then pressing the mixture to form a uniform solid panel.

Like MDF, the difference is in its physical and mechanical properties.

You can easily tell particleboard from an MDF board by the size of its grains. That is because particleboard is made of wood shavings or chips as opposed to wood dust of fine wood particles that are used to make MDF boards.

The wood shavings give it a rougher and rugged look bearing a brittle surface texture.

As a finished product, particleboards are available in both laminated and raw products which are used according to one’s needs. 

Laminated Particle Boards are used where the surface is exposed such as counter-top and the laminated ones are used where they are concealed or need painting.

Pro And Cons

As much as Particle Boards are considered of lower quality and durability, it is still applied widely in interior décor and furniture.

Here are its strengths and weaknesses;


  • It is uniform on the surface and in thickness.
  • It is often substituted for conventional timber as it is lighter and cheaper.
  • It is eco-friendly.
  • Can be painted especially using oil paints or lacquer.


  • The cheapest and of lower quality as compared to fiberboards.
  • It expands and bends in when exposed to the sun.
  • They are prone to discoloration with the frequent wiping of the surface

Which Is Better For Countertop MDF Or Particle Board?

MDF is a better board as it does not fade easily and its density protects it from ingesting moisture which is bad for its appearance and longevity.

But when it comes to application, both boards are good in countertop applications and on fixtures or furniture pieces that are not exposed to water or moisture.

When they are excessively exposed to water or moisture, they swell and lose shape which affects the image of the fixture.

During the manufacturing of MDF panels, wood is processed until they form fibers similar to carton which enables a better quality product when compressed.

Particle or Chip Board on the other hand uses particles that when pressed has a visibly rough texture. This means that particleboard is more susceptible to environmental elements.

At the end of the day, MDF is the better choice of the two given that it undergoes higher temperatures and pressure to achieve the final product.

But it is important to note that both types of board are toxic and slowly produce gas harmful to humans.

But this gas is not as a result of the wood products, no, it is as a result of the binding glue or resin used to bond the components.

But this toxicity can be controlled by painting or sealing exposed edges.

What Is The Difference Between MDF And Particle Board? 

As much as the two types of wooden boards undergo almost the same engineering processes, they bear distinct physical differences that are hard to bypass.

And that is largely because they are made of different textures of wood particles and undergo different production elements.

Below is a table differentiating the two;

MDF/Medium Density FiberboardParticle Board/Chipboard
Better QualityPoor Quality
More expensiveLess expensive
DenserLess dense
Weighs moreWeighs lighter
It is stronger holding up more weightLess strong therefore needs support
Lasts longerDoesn’t last very long
Easy to clean and maintainFrequent cleaning causes discoloration

Final Thoughts

As compared to timber as a choice of countertop application, both boards; MDF and Particleboard are gaining superiority fast given that they are way cheaper and do not present visible knots which act as unimpressive imperfections on surfaces.

And whether to pick one against the other depends a lot on the money allocated on the project and the strength one is looking out for.

MDF is superior in quality and strength while Particle Board is preferred because of its fairness in price.