hardboard masonite panels

Hardboard Masonite Panels and their Industrial Uses

Hardboard Masonite panels are a specific and surprisingly versatile type of wood-based composite panel. It’s strength and durability make it an excellent product for a wide variety of applications.

Commonly known as “Masonite” (a brand name derived from the panel’s inventor and the company he started), hardboard is a thin, strong board made from wood fiber derivates like chips. It is often confused with MDF or cement fiberboard, but it is not the same thing. It can be unfinished – standard hardboard, or tempered hardboard, a process that adds a minuscule amount of oil as a finishing agent that makes it stronger and less prone to warping. Compared to other panels like plywood or OSB, it is only made as a thinner product but can be just as strong as a thicker panel.

Uses for Hardboard

Manufacturers use hardboard masonite panels in a huge range of ways. Pallets, crates, and other packaging companies use it as lightweight tops, slip sheets or dunnage. Furniture manufacturers use it for cabinets, drawers, shelves, and backing for mirrors and pictures, among other things. Beyond manufacturing, you will find hardboard in use by farmers for barn flooring and bedding and artists use hardboard as a painting substrate.  Hardboard’s ability to resist damage and withstand cutting, routing, shaping, and drilling allow for near 100% usage of the panel. And one fact that not many people know is that B Grade hardboard, while much less expensive, can feature only minor defects, making it nearly as usable as premium grades!

Hardboard’s unique qualities make it an ideal option as a panel substrate for hundreds of different products. Turns out that old coach’s clipboard (made from hardboard!) is more useful than you think.

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About Masonite on Wikipedia.

plywood or osb structural panels

Plywood or OSB Structural Panels Pros and Cons

In today’s construction world, almost all structures are built with panels for at least part of the infrastructure. Builders have two widely available options in plywood or OSB structural panels, which both have advantages and disadvantages to their use. 

OSB:

OSB, or oriented strand board, is a rigid panel made by grinding logs into thin strands that look somewhat like wood chips. The strands are arranged in crosshatch orientation and mixed with materials to bind them together, then finished in a hot press. The finished OSB board has a consistent density throughout the panel and can be made into sheets as long as 16 feet or higher. Historically, OSB’s key advantage comes from its cheaper manufacturing cost. For most uses such as subfloor and wall sheathing, it is rated equivalent to plywood. However, it’s a performance in moist climates can be questionable, as it is prone to retaining moisture that can result in the swelling of the board’s edges.  

Plywood:

Plywood is a strong panel made by stripping thin veneers in layers from a log. The veneers are pressed together in perpendicular layers, creating a solid panel, typically manufactured at 8- or 10-foot lengths. Plywood’s primary advantage is in its moisture resistance. Many flooring contractors refuse to use anything else as subfloor as it is perceived as more consistent and reliable. Plywood is generally more expensive than OSB, which is a key disadvantage. 

Overall, the two types of structural panels are rated very similar by agencies that specialize in building codes and material quality. Plywood can be perceived to be of higher quality, but many believe that fact comes from its long history, more consistent appearance, and higher cost. OSB is very commonly used in wall sheathing as well as roofing and flooring.  

In closing, builders have a choice of materials they can safely and responsibly use in construction planning. Both plywood or osb structural panels are reliable, strong options for roofing, sheathing, flooring, as well as many other applications. The renewability of wood makes either product widely available, therefore a good option for almost all buildings. 

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Oriented Strand Board on Wikipedia

Low-Grade Panels for DIY

Low-Grade Panels for DIY Customers Needs

There are some great options when it comes to meeting low-grade panels for DIY customer’s needs.

Discount Materials to Sell Locally

In an increasingly competitive landscape, local retailers need to be nimble and creative. The strength of a smaller company’s footprint lies in the customer relationships it builds. Providing customers with a wide range of products at the best prices is key.

The vast majority of the many smaller building materials retail stores are in less populated areas, targeting clients who are likely more rural and have larger lots with a variety of activities and building materials needs. These retailers know they are providing the goods used to make things like outbuildings, sheds, chicken coops, cattle guards, and windbreaks. But many retailers don’t know that they can buy OSB board or plywood at much cheaper prices and pass those savings along to their customers.  

A Win-Win for Everyone

Buying low-grade siding, OSB, or plywood is a win-win situation for the retailer and their customer. While these products are not covered under warranties, utility panels are much less expensive and often have very little noticeable difference from the construction grade panel you’d buy at a big-box retailer. For a customer that needs an economical outbuilding or good solid trailer skirting this is perfect. They can easily work around small imperfections in the board and get the same performance. 

Local retailers who stock discount building materials can go a long way toward maintaining the loyalty of their valued customers. Providing an affordable alternative such as low-grade panels for DIY customers to build cheap outbuildings, chicken coops, and barn interiors is the key to keeping clients happy and still turning a profit. 

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More about Low-grade panels on Wikipedia.