Particle Board versus Handcrafted Hardwood Furniture

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Jason Nguyen

Furniture can be expensive. When considering the costs, one must also consider the benefits. The old saying that you get what you pay for still has merit, and that includes pricey items like furniture. You want something that looks nice as well as functional. Finding that at a reasonable cost can be tricky, and that’s why you might be tempted to make use of particle board furniture.

Others will swear by hardwood furniture. It’s reliable, durable, functional, and expensive. both have their places, and learning what’s best for you will ensure an informed and responsible decision that doesn’t lead to future costs and concerns.

What is particle board?

particle board

While hardwood furniture is easy enough to understand, just what, exactly, is particle board? As the name suggests, it is a board made from particles, in this case the leftovers of wood manufacturing, namely sawdust and filings. These bits are adhered together with glue and pressed into shape.

As a result, particle board is mass produced, readily available, and cheap. It doesn’t really have a grain, but the pattern is uniform and easily replaceable. Those are all useful attributes, but the benefits tend to end there.

Assembly versus hardwood

In rather obvious contrast to particle board, handcrafted hardwood furniture, like Amish bedroom furniture, is, well, handcrafted hardwood. The pieces are made from solid wood, crafted with traditional tooling. As a result, the pieces are beautiful, variable, and expensive. Such furniture is often renowned for its longevity and durability, two things you usually can’t say about particle board.

Longevity and durability

On those notes, it’s useful to compare such attributes between hardwood furniture and particle board. Particle board usually lasts one to three days under light use, as long as five years in ideal conditions, and less than a year under heavy use or if pets and children are involved.

Hardwood furniture, in contrast, can last for centuries if properly cared for and protected from damage. While it might be an expensive upfront cost, over the years, the costs will definitely balance out.

What can each withstand?

Particle board is pretty infamous for sagging, bowing, or cracking with little provocation. The mere thought of holding a lot of weight sometimes seems like enough to cause particle board to fail. Hardwood, in contrast, is strong. It wouldn’t be used to make everything from furniture to houses otherwise. When it comes to Amish furniture and similar pieces, they can hold up extremely well to weight and years of service that would turn particle board back into its component parts.

How do they look?

Particle board is usually covered with a laminated surface to cover up the sandy look it has. You could also stain it for a different color. The laminate tends to peel and chip at corners and places of wear and exposure. Laminate or no, it usually comes in lighter colors, meaning décor options are limited to warmer colors in most cases. Then again, particle board furniture doesn’t usually come to mind when decorating.

Hardwood furniture, in contrast, comes in a variety of colors and styles, which depend on the type of wood used and the crafter’s intent. Amish furniture is known for generally being made in a classic style, favoring simple, sleek designs with little if any ornamentation. As a result, such furniture is easy to obtain for almost any décor scheme, and the timeless look ensures such pieces will be in style for as long as they last.

Comparing costs

As previously noted, particle board is cheap. When it comes to wood, it’s probably the cheapest way to make furniture. These pieces, though, won’t last very long. While potentially useful in the short term, like a college dormitory, their short lifespan means you’ll need to replace them after a few years.

As for hardwood furniture, it can last for a long, long time. There are museums with wooden furniture that predate the discovery of the New World. With care and in the right conditions, hardwood furniture like Amish furniture can last for decades, even centuries.

The upfront cost, however, can be a bit steep. For some, it might be too much. Still, when it comes to quality, comfort, and utility, hardwood furniture is usually the standout in each category. Just, not in price. The secondary market is not forgiving in this regard, either, as pieces are so desirable. Bargains are out there, but in just a straight upfront cost comparison, particle board wins. At least, until you need to buy a new piece because the first one snapped.


When it comes to maintaining such pieces, particle board has the advantage of generally not being worth the effort. Regular dusting and the occasional wiping will provide the bulk of such efforts. You might, at most, need to tighten a loose screw. Anything more involved is just as likely to damage the flimsy material as fix it.

Hardwood, however, can require a fair bit of regular, though light, maintenance. Ensuring the surface is clean and dry will help prevent damage. The same is true for any drawers or cupboards. It’s also a good idea to prevent too much sun exposure to avoid surface damage. While not an involved list of duties, it does need to be done regularly.

While the same is true for particle board, it doesn’t need any special care like surface restoring products or the like. While regular care will help particle board last longer, its days were numbered the moment you bought the piece.

Both particle board and hardwood furniture have their advantages and disadvantages. Particle board is cheap, easy to take care of, and easy to replace. That’s good, because you will need to replace it at some point, usually in a few years. For the short term, it’s fine. Hardwood, however, requires careful, regular maintenance to keep it in good condition. It also tends to cost a lot.

That said, it can last for centuries if properly maintained. In the long term, hardwood is the clear choice, but particle board has its uses as well. You wouldn’t put an Amish cherry desk in the garage, for example. Make sure you get the right piece for the job, regardless of the material.