Particle board is cheaper, denser and more uniform than conventional wood and plywood and is substituted for them when cost is more important than strength and appearance. Particleboard can be made more appealing by painting or the use of wood veneers on visible surfaces. Though it is more dense than conventional wood, it is the lightest and weakest type of fiberboard, except for insulation board. Medium-density fibreboard 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 significant disadvantage of particleboard is its susceptibility to expansion and discoloration from moisture absorption, particularly when it is not covered with paint or another sealer. Therefore, it is rarely used outdoors or in places where there are high levels of moisture, except in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, where it is commonly used as an underlayment shielded beneath a moisture resistant continuous sheet of vinyl flooring.
In dry environments, veneered particleboard is preferred over veneered plywood because of its stability, lower cost, and convenience.