In any remodelling project, cost is a major factor. Sometimes, it is the determining factor. For that reason, alternative materials are often used to reduce overall cost, preferably without sacrificing too much in quality. Chipboard, a pressed alternative to plywood, is one such alternative, but there disadvantages to its use and manufacture that for some, might outweigh the cost benefits.
Cracking and Splintering
Given its piecemeal construction, chipboard is prone to cracking and splintering, particularly if you are driving screws or nails into its surface. There are special fasteners made for chipboard, but driving even those near the edges of the chipboard is a dicey proposition.
Like particle board, chipboard hoards any moisture it comes in contact with and retains it like a sponge, according to DIY Data. The piece will eventually swell and become unusable. This makes chipboard a poor choice for cabinets that rest directly on the floor where they are more susceptible to wetness.
Chipboard does not cut well. It leaves rough edges and the laminated variety is subject to cracking during the cutting process. It can be done, but you'll need adhesive caps to create the appearance of finished edge, according to DIY Data.
Most wood glues and speciality adhesives work well with chipboard, but when the adhesive fails, either due to improper application or heavy stress load, it often pulls large pieces of the chips with it. This damages the board and possibly the laminate if the chipboard is the laminated variety.
Chipboard manufacturers boast that their product is sustainable because it makes use of waste wood or farms of fast growing hybrid trees that can't be used in solid wood products. The reality is trees in the wild that are too young or otherwise insufficient for solid wood use are harvested for chipboard, leaving behind clear-cut areas that take decades to grow back, according to "Chipboard: Not All It Has Chipped Up To Be," published in the "New Life Journal" in June 2002.
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