What are cheap desk made of?
With so many are stuck in their home offices the demand for office desks for home offices are high. However, there are many types of office desks and of course; you don’t want to break the bank when purchasing one. There is a great variety of cheap office desks, but he the question is always “What are cheap desk made of?”
Cheap office desks are usually made of particleboard, a composite of wood- or jute chips and synthetic resin or another binder. This is what most cheap desk are made of you can buy at Walmart or other retail stores. This is not to confuse with MDF or “Medium-density fibreboard” ,which is a much studier composite material. We will discus both of them briefly here in this article.
What is particleboard that cheap desks are made of?
Well, particle board, or as some call it, chipboard, is made of – you guessed it - from particles of chips of wood that is pressed and glued together with resin and other chemicals. That is why new particleboard furniture smell a bit, until the chemicals dissolve a bit.
There are also slight differences between particleboards chip boards. Basically it has to do with the size of the particles or wood chips and density of the board. But both are used for cheap desks.
Cheap office desks are usually than laminated to have a solid clean surface. Others, even cheaper office desks, are just painted.
These cheap particleboard desks are used when the price is more important than quality.
Particleboards have the advantage that they are more uniform than solid wood and can be manufactured fast and inexpensive. But that also makes particle wood heavier than solid wood, at the same times it breaks much faster.
As mentioned, there are different grades of particleboard with different density of the board. The higher the density the more stable will the board be – and the heavier it will be.
But the very cheap office furniture you find at cheap retail stores like Walmart and others, are usually made of the low rate particle boards. That is why they are usually very light and flimsy and therefore will not last long.
What are the disadvantages of cheap particleboard desks?
- One of the biggest disadvantage is that particleboards are very sensitive to moisture. Because of their open pores moisture can enter the board and make it swell up, crumble and it get discolored. That is especially true when the particleboard is not fully covered or painted. But even then, there are still openings in the board, for example for hinges and knobs or screws.
- Because of the manufacturing process, particleboards are soak with many chemicals such as formaldehyde. This is a toxic chemical and it’s therefore of course not healthy to be exposed to it a long time. When you plan to sit all day in your home office you might want to think about if you want to be exposed to it every day. Even after many month formaldehyde gas is released by particleboards that are not fully covered or laminated. Cheap office furniture are seldom completely sealed in every corner. So this is a real thread for your health.
- Another disadvantage of cheap particleboard office desks is that over the time they sag. You have seen that with selves made of cheap particleboard. Even after just a short time, you can see the shelves sag and bending. This is especially true when you live in tropical environment are somewhere where your office is exposed to moist air. That does only look bad, it also shows that these furniture will not last long.
- Particleboards are not as strong as other materials. Although more heavy that solid wood it breaks easily. Therefore cheap office desks made of particleboards need to be handled with care. Especially when you have to assemble the desk yourself at home.
- As mentioned before cheap office desk made out of particle board usually don’t last long. If you move from one place to another and you need to disassemble the furniture and assembly it again in another place, chances are good that the office desk will get damages. But even if it says in one place – parts that are moved often such as doors and drawers break easily.
- Cheap office furniture made of particleboard cannot hold heavy loads such as many books or folders in your shelve. So if you have many items you need to store this might not be a good option for you.
What are advantages of cheap particleboard desks?
- Well, of course the first advantage that come to mind is the price. Particleboards are much cheaper, compared to more durable MDF or solid wood furniture’s. Compared to other furniture made of plywood or MDF, particleboard furniture cost less than half. But only if you only consider the first time purchase. Over the lifetime of your home office a more stable office desk might the cheaper option as you could end up buying a cheap desk more than one time when it breaks. Compared to other furniture made of plywood particleboard furniture costs less than half.
- Particleboards have a smooth surface and therefore can easily be glued or laminated with different decors. This can make the particleboard more durable and stable as well.
- There are many different choices of particleboards when it comes to the thickness of the board or also the density. So manufactures can be creative with these furniture’s and find the material that fits their design purpose.
- As advantage, we might consider that particleboards are made of waste or side products such as chips and saw dust, and not real solid wood. This might be true for some manufactures, but others also use complete tree to manufacture particleboards as well.
- Office furniture made of particleboards can be assembled at home. So it’s much easier to transport and ship these furniture. And this in the and also reduces the cost of those furniture.
What is the difference between cheap particleboard and MDF desks?
Both, particleboards and MDF boards are composite boards. But there are significant differences. Particleboards are much lighter, have a lesser density and therefore are less stable than MDF boards.
Particleboards and MDF boards are manufactures in the same way. But MDF (medium density fiber) woods particles are shredded to a much finer degree than particle boards and then pressed hot, whereas particleboards are pressed cold.
The hot press process assures that chemicals are activated and to the MDF boards have a much higher stability than particleboards.
So if you want to have a momentary cheap solution to get started with your home office, a cheap particleboard office desk will certainly do the job. If you plan to work from home more permanently, you might consider spending a bit more to get more stable version. As mentioned, office furniture made of MDF boards are one option. Alternatively, even solid wood office desks are not too expensive.
Of course, there are countless other options such as metal or glas desks. We will discuss them later in another article.
For tips on how to set your home office desk see also our article SHOULD MY DESK FACE THE WALL?
If you have a different experience with cheap particleboard office desk please let us know write a comment below.
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