Hardboard Specifications

Written by jackie johnson
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Hardboard Specifications
A hardboard's smooth surface is ideal for drawers in kitchens and baths. (kitchen drawer image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com)

Hardboard is a manufactured wood product also called Masonite. You can use the material for a variety of purposes including backing for cabinets, for small bottoms, soffits and pegboard. The product is easy to work with. You can cut hardboard easily with manual or electric saws. Carpenters sometimes use hardboard in new construction as a walking surface to protect flooring from damage when completing a house or other building.

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Manufacturers produce three grades of hardboard. The first is called service grade; it is the thinnest of hardboard sheets. The second type is called standard and the last is called tempered. Tempered hardboard is the strongest. Manufacturers make it by adding an oil to the wood shavings from which all hardboard is made. Builders don't consider this hardboard suitable for painting since the oils can bleed through, discolouring the painted surface.


The sheets come in standard 4x8 foot panels. The thicknesses include 1/16, 1/8 and 1/4 inches. The thicker hardboard is much less flexible than the thinnest, which is easy to bend to create different types of woodworking projects. You can special-order hardboard in other sizes. Hobby and craft stores may carry hardboard in smaller sizes for different types of projects.


All hardboard comes with at least one side with a smooth finish. The sheets are marked S1 or S2 to designate whether both sides are smooth or just one side. Some manufacturers provide hardboard that has a thin vinyl coating on it so it is ready for backing cabinets or finishing drawers. Pegboard comes with holes drilled in it at regular intervals you can use for organising items you can hang.

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