Particleboard is cheaper, denser and more uniform than conventional wood and plywood and is substituted for them when appearance and strength are less important than cost. However, particleboard can be made more attractive by painting or the use of wood veneers that are glued onto surfaces that will be visible. Though it is denser than conventional wood, it is the lightest and weakest type of fiberboard, except for insulation board. Medium-density fiberboard and hardboard, also called high-density fiberboard, are stronger and denser than particleboard. Different grades of particleboard have different densities, with higher density connoting greater strength and greater resistance to failure of screw fasteners.
A major disadvantage of particleboard is that it is very prone to expansion and discoloration due to moisture, particularly when it is not covered with paint or another sealer. Therefore, it is rarely used outdoors or places that have high levels of moisture, with the exception of some bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, where it is commonly used as an underpayment beneath a continuous sheet of vinyl flooring. It does, however, have some advantages when it comes to constructing the cabinet box and shelves. For example, it is well suited for attaching cabinet door hinges to the sides of frameless cabinets. Plywood has the potential to feather off in sheaves when extreme weight is placed on the hinges. In contrast, particle board holds the screws in place under similar weight. Additionally, particleboard is favored for cabinet shelves that need to span a long width (30"or more) since it will not bow under the weight like plywood.