Why Particleboard Is A Bad Idea
Okay, so I’ll admit right from the get-go….I hate particleboard. Putting aside my prejudice, I will say that yes, it will work okay for certain applications, but in my opinion it’s not a good idea to use in a wet location. Ever. Particleboard, aka chipboard, is made of wood chips, sawmill shavings, and even sawdust all bonded together in risen. It’s not strong, it’s not durable, and water is it’s Kryptonite – water can make particleboard swell and expand, and mold loves some wet particleboard, as we recently found out during our laundry room makeover.
Before we get down into the dirty work, lets back up a bit…. I wanted to paint the walls before tackling the floor, which led to the particleboard issue. I purchased paint for our laundry room project and once I have a can of paint in the house, I cannot refrain from applying it right away, ready or not! So I sort of jumped the gun and rolled on the paint before the trim was even taken out. Just. Couldn’t. Help. Myself. We went with a grey color – yes, I know grey walls were all the rage last year, but instead of the pale or silvery chic grey, I wanted something a bit more ‘muddy’, that would lend to the rustic-industrial look we’re going for.
We chose ‘Platinum Gray’ by Benjamin Moore. It’s sort of a putty grey, or grey with dirt in it as I like to say….
After, Aaron removed the trim (yes, I know, kind of backwards), so that I could then rip out the vinyl flooring….
So What Happens To Particleboard When It Gets Wet?
Here is where it gets ugly. The cheap vinyl ripped up easily and thankfully the glue used on it was so old and brittle that for the most part the sheet pulled up in one piece. Then the ‘You’re kidding me?!’ moment. The builders used cheap particleboard for the backing under the vinyl. And there had been a serious leak from the washing machine some time in the past. People, this is why you DO NOT use particleboard anywhere water might be a problem….
That’s mold. And though it’s not easy to see in the photo, the water damage and mold extended to the wall. The particleboard had swelled, and stank from the mold. Had the builders used a backer intended for wet locations, the damage probably wouldn’t have been nearly as bad. The leak was bad enough to flow over to the dryer area….
Notice the rusted staples every 6 inches or so?….it’s called overkill. Particleboard sheets do not need a gazillion staples. A few fasteners along the edges would have made it possible to pull up entire sheet sections. I swear the dude that put this flooring in must have been laughing the entire time thinking to himself: ‘Lol, the homeowners are going to have a heck of a time getting this floor out’. Why? Because this crap puts the ‘part’ in particleboard – it literally breaks into tiny parts around the staples when you try to remove it, so a gazillion staples equal a gazillion bits of board….
The fine dust from the particleboard is toxic so we used a tarp to cover the doorway, and wearing a mask, safety goggles, and gloves, Aaron took on the job of chipping away at the floor with a pry bar and hammer….
It was slow, smelly, and rough on the back and arms. Aaron was simply exhausted hours later when the job was done. Poor guy 🙁 The water and mold damage had gone through the particleboard onto the OSB sub-floor. So afterwards, we swept it all up, then scrubbed the mold on the wall and OSB, let it dry, then sealed it with a mold and stain blocker. Want to see what flooring we put down in it’s place? Check back soon for more laundry room makeover updates 🙂