Can Particle Board be Used as Subfloor – (Ultimate Guide)

While renovating your house, one of the materials you might consider for subflooring is particle board. You may have been looking to discuss this with an expert but can’t seem to find one. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

Particle board can certainly be used for your subfloor, especially since it is relatively cheap compared to regular plywood subfloors or wood plank subfloors. However, it can present health risks if insects or mold make the boards their home.

This article provides more detailed information to help you decide whether this material might be the most suitable choice for your own subfloor.

particle board subfloor

How Long Does a Particle Board Subfloor Last?

Using particle board instead of traditional subflooring material (like a layer of plywood panels) for your subfloor can save you a lot of money. But whether it is worth it or not depends on whether the material will stand the test of time.

How long you can expect a subfloor made of particle board to remain in good condition depends on various factors like humidity and use. Generally, it should last at least a few decades, though local weather conditions and heavy use will substantially affect that.

One of the things that you can do to help your subfloor last longer is install a particle board or plywood underlayment plus a top layer of laminate flooring that will prevent liquid from seeping through.

How Thick Should Particle Board Subfloors Be?

particle board subfloors thickness

With safety in mind, flooring has to be strong enough to support a tremendous amount of weight. Sometimes, floors collapse into basements solely because too many people are walking on them. This situation worsens when flooring is not constructed as thick as it should be.

A base layer should be about 1¼ inch thick. However, particle boards are usually only ¾ inch thick. So you have to make up for the minimal thickness in some way. One way is to install an underlayment, which is essentially using a second layer for a more solid base.

Benefits of Particle Board Subflooring

Using particle board as subflooring is a great idea, which is why so many people do so. Let’s look at some of the benefits of choosing this material for this purpose:


Any expert will tell you that the price is the greatest benefit of using particle board for your subfloor. You can get your hands on a 4×8 board for about $10. If you decided to go with plywood, you would end up paying around $35 a sheet. That is three and a half times the cost. 

Depending on how big your house is, you can essentially save a small fortune.

Perfect for Carpeting or Vinyl

particle board ideal choice for subfloor

Particle board is an ideal choice for your subfloor if you plan to put in carpeting or a vinyl floor. This building material has a smooth surface, making gluing carpet or vinyl easy.

Raises Your Flooring

Particle board is often used to raise the level of a floor to the correct height for different flooring materials.

Issues When Using Particle Board as Subfloor

There are several benefits to using particle board for subflooring, such as it being cheap compared to other conventional materials—but it’s not perfect. 

You may have to contend with a few common issues detailed below, such as water damage, installation challenges, and difficulty removing the board for the replacement. 

Water and Moisture Damage

particle board water and moisture damage

The biggest argument against using this material for subflooring is that it is highly susceptible to damage from water and other moisture. 

Considering that this material is made from leftover wood particles and sawdust all held together with glue, it makes sense that it soaks moisture right up.

No matter what type of flooring you put on top, water and other moisture are bound to make their way to the board as the years go by, especially in a humid climate. Not only will damage occur but mold and insects will also make their way in, which can be a health concern.

Plus, wet particle boards easily break down, which doesn’t bode well for your floor or your pocket. This will not happen right away, but it does affect the longevity of a subfloor made of this material.

Installation Difficulties

Particle board is strong, but it’s not as sturdy as other building materials. This makes it difficult to drive nails into it during installation. When hammering nails into this type of board, you must do it carefully to avoid damaging the flat surface.

Whether you are installing the subfloor yourself or paying someone else to do it, it is bound to be a hassle. This can make it highly frustrating for you and more expensive to install if you go with a professional.

Tricky Removal

Having to replace this type of subfloor is not exactly a walk in the park. Since properly installing this material requires tough screws and strong glue, it is super hard to remove. On top of that, it breaks into pieces as you remove it because of the soft materials it’s made of.

You will need to use special tools and put in a lot of effort to get rid of old particle board subflooring. It also takes a significant amount of time to do so.


using particle board as a subfloor

Using particle board as a subfloor is inexpensive and produces magnificent results, especially with carpeting or a vinyl floor. If you are not worried about water damage, then this can be an excellent solution when remodeling your home. 

However, if high humidity or heavy rains are common where you live, perhaps you should consider alternatives such as plywood since particle board is not very water resistant.