If you’ve been shopping for furniture lately, or looking for home building materials, you’ve likely run across the phrase “manufactured wood” more than a few times. But for all the popularity of this product, there is still a lot of confusion out there about what it really is. Many still have preconceived notions about this product: they assume its flimsy, poor quality, or made entirely from synthetic materials—all of which are untrue. So, what is manufactured wood? 

Picture of light lumber for the blog what is manufactured wood?

To help clear up some of these misconceptions about manufactured wood, let’s take a look at what exactly it is, when it can and should be used, and how it differs from real wood.

What is Manufactured Wood? 

First things first: what is manufactured wood made of? The answer is not as simple as it may seem. After all, there are a few different kinds of manufactured wood available. Those include:

  • Particleboard or Chipboard
  • Fiberboard
  • Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
  • Plywood or Laminated board

Particleboard is the lowest-quality of these and may be where manufactured wood gets its bad name. This is made of sawdust and resin bonded by adhesive. You probably have seen or felt a cheaper piece of furniture made from particle board—think Ikea or even Walmart.

One step up from particleboard in quality is fiberboard. This is a bit stronger and much denser than particleboard, making it more resistant to breaks and chips. It is made by heating small pieces of wood until they become fibers, and binding those fibers together with adhesive. 

That brings us to the most popular form of manufactured wood, known as medium-density fiberboard. Usually, this product is made of a couple of layers. The core of the product is made of medium-density fiberboard, also known as MDF. This MDF is made of wood chips and sawdust that are heated, pressed, and bound together to create a lightweight board. On top of this MDF, there is a layer of real wood veneer. This veneer is often coated with melamine, a product that prevents stretching and other damage. 

Because of its strength, durability, appearance, and affordability, MDF is widely known as the best alternative to real wood. Plus, the fact that it contains actual wood makes it a truer manufactured wood than the other options. Usually, when people refer to manufactured wood, this is what they mean. 

Finally, plywood, the strongest form of manufactured wood, is made by gluing together multiple layers of veneers to create one sturdy board.

Is Manufactured Wood Better than Real Wood?  

While it is often assumed that real wood is better than manufactured wood, this isn’t necessarily always the case. The best choice for you will really just depend on what you are using the wood for, and what you need from it. 


Because the top layer of manufactured wood is made of a real wood layer called a veneer, it often appears just as real as the alternative to any observer. 

The only real exception is when a cross-section is viewed from the side, in which case you can see the layers of MDF stacked one on top of the other.


The fact that the materials needed to make manufactured wood are more readily available than solid wood means that the former is usually more affordable. 

Plus, the time and craftsmanship required to make furniture completely from solid wood adds to its value, making it more expensive. 


This one is more complicated. While manufactured wood is more resistant to moisture thanks to the layer of melamine on top, it is also more prone to chips and breakage because it is thinner than real wood. 

Real wood is also meant to last for generations but needs to be properly treated to keep it in the best shape possible.

Ultimately, real wood is your best bet if you are looking for something that can last hundreds of years and you are willing to put in the work to take care of it. Otherwise, manufactured wood requires less upkeep and may be a better option for environments in which there is a lot of moisture. 


Solid wood furniture is extremely heavy, so keep that in mind if you are planning on doing a lot of moving or need something that can easily be relocated. Manufactured wood is much lighter and easier to maneuver. 

Manufactured Wood with Capitol City Lumber

Looking for manufactured wood in Raleigh to complete your next project? You can turn to Capitol City Lumber. Raleigh’s best hardware store and lumber yard backed by a team of experts who can help you figure out which wood is right for you.

For more information about our lumber yard and building supply store in Raleigh, shipping capabilities, wood cutting services, or items we sell, visit or contact us today. If you can’t swing by, check out the many wood products that we ship all over the continental U.S. through TotalWoodStore.com!