– What is the difference between MDF, chipboard, ply, Conti Board and hardboard?
– What can I use them for?
Okay so what’s the difference, well cost is a major factor with external plywood being very expensive – but why? Plywood is a layered laminate style wood which is very strong and resistant to water damage especially the external grade. So when might I use this? Plywood strength and robust nature means it is ideal for preparing a floor for tiling or simply for strengthening old floorboards. The thickness required depends on the existing floor, most old tenement flats with rickety uneven floorboards require 18mm ply to be laid which will reduce the movement of the floor and provide a more level surface, which should prevent any tiles which are laid from cracking.
Hardboard is particularly good if you are planning to lay Lino as it is an affordable solution, this is light and easy to work with and will provide a smoother surface to lay the lino which will remove high spots and extend the life of the lino. If the floor is particularly bad using 6mm or 9mm ply may also be an option.
Chipboard is material made up from recycled wood and is an affordable was to floor a property. Unfortunately this material is particularly vulnerable to moisture and becomes swollen and very soft.
Contiboard is similar to chip board except it has a plastic coating in various optional finishes, such as white, oak, cherry, beech and more. This is commonly used for bedroom furniture construction and shelving when exposure to moisture is not a factor.
MDF – Medium Density Fibreboard is used for the construction of many items including skirting board, architrave and kitchen cupboard doors. In some instances it will come laminated in a choice of finishes in much the same way as Contiboard. Similarly to Chipboard and Contiboard, MDF is not well suited to being used in area with arisk of exposure to moisture. MDF comes commonly in large sheets which can be cut to almost any shape or size. This makes it ideal for bespoke joinery solutions and shelving. MDF can be painted to improve it’s visual appearance.