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What is Chipboard Flooring?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chipboard flooring is sub-flooring made from coarse sawdust combined with resin. The sawdust and resin mixture is heat processed and pressed to form large sheets. Chipboard is also called particle board; it's easy to see the small bits of sawdust that make up the flooring sheets. Chipboard flooring is made in different thicknesses; each standard thickness is color-coded for easy identification. High density chipboard is used for sub-flooring, or the base for carpet or other flooring surface, because it's inexpensive, yet heavy duty.

Only high density chipboard is usable for flooring. There are three grades or densities of chipboard manufactured today: normal, medium and high density. Normal density chipboard is quite soft, while medium-dense chipboard is firmer. High density chipboard isn't as porous as the other two; it's the most water-resistant of the three types. Water damaged chipboard easily breaks down.

High density chipboard flooring must be clearly marked as such when it's for sale, since the other particle board types aren't suitable for use as floors. The less dense particle board or chipboard types may be used for drawer liners in some furniture pieces such as chests of drawers. High density chipboard is used for some kitchen cabinet frames and desktops as well as sub-flooring.

Chipboard flooring sheets connect together in a tongue and groove method. The high density chipboard sheets must be measured and cut to fit the floor space as well as the home's joist spacing. The boards are nailed or screwed down. One problem with chipboard floors is that they’re susceptible to creaking sounds within a few weeks of installation. Loose boards may also cause a bouncy feeling that a person may notice when walking on the floor.

It's crucial that high density chipboard flooring sheets are tightly attached to form a sub-floor less prone to squeaking. Another common occurrence with chipboard floors is their tendency to bubble. Any bubbling or blistering can usually be sanded down flat. Chipboard floor sheets can be purchased in varieties that are mold- and termite-resistant. Laws may require all chipboard flooring manufactured to be flame-retardant.

High density chipboard flooring is considered long-wearing and tough. It can be used as a base or sub-flooring for all types of floor coverings including carpet, stone, wood and ceramic tile. Chipboard floors are not usually used for main floor coverings; the pressed sawdust and resin effect isn’t the most attractive look. Steel and cement are alternatives to a high density chipboard sub-floor.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon278900 — On Jul 09, 2012

Can we make particle board using sugar cane waste from a sugar mill? Who can provide such technology and production equipment?

By Matis — On Jun 25, 2011

@oopart28- I took on a similar project with my downstairs bathroom. I had 22mm chipboard flooring. After doing some research, it seemed that 22mm chipboard just wasn’t going to work as a base for the tile.

I sheeted over the 22mm chipboard with 12mm chipboard to create a better subfloor. After that, I went on the tanking for the wet room. I spoke to someone in the technical department at the company I bought my waterproofing from. I was told it was fine to use on the chipboard and to go ahead and do the whole room.

I didn’t have any problems getting the tiles to stick. It has held up nicely. No problems so far. You should call the company you got your waterproof material from and see what their tech support suggests.

By oopart28 — On Jun 23, 2011

I have been in the middle of re-doing my master bathroom. The sub-flooring is chipboard. This has led me to the interesting task of laying floor tiles on chipboard. I have been visiting a lot of DIY sites.

The general consensus has been to remove the chipboard and use plywood. This is not what I want to do. I had been wondering if there wasn’t some way to treat the floor to make the chipboard more suitable for laying floor tile.

I was already planning on a wet room style shower. Seeing as I am going to be tanking the area with something for waterproofing, I wondered if I couldn’t use the same thing to make a bonding layer between the chipboard and adhesive needed for the tiles. Has anyone done anything like this? Am I stuck getting rid of the chipboard?

By mantra — On Jun 22, 2011

When my husband and I decided our house needed remodeling, we took on the majority of the work ourselves. I was in over my head, but thankfully my patient spouse knew enough to cover both of us and guide me through where I could help.

We ripped out the old carpeting and had to replace some of the chipboard. It is a good thing he knew how to lay chipboard flooring! My husband did all the measuring and marking to know how many sheets we needed and where to place them.

Most of what I did was nail things down. My husband put on the finishing touches. I try not to get anywhere near a power saw.

It’s true that chipboard can be squeaky, but we weren’t about to rip out the entire sub-flooring through the house. It was a difficult do-it-yourself job for me, but I love the satisfaction that comes with doing your own home improvement.

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