Chipboard or OSB flat-pack furniture
Chipboard and OSB (oriented strand board) alike, is what’s most typically used for flat pack furniture. Chipboard is an incredibly cheap material to buy. It’s made up of shredded timber of all kinds, then mixed with glue and compressed with huge forces and high heat, into boards.
From the aspect of being able to use waste timber material, it’s positive, although the glues used often omit harmful VOCs, and the manufacturing processes use a significant amount of energy.
The biggest downside of chipboard is its lack of durability. It is very brittle and can break apart simply from over-tightening a screw or bracket. If it gets wet – forget it. Chipboard HATES moisture, swelling up to 2-3 times the normal thickness and then falling apart.
How to tell if it’s chipboard?
Chipboard is a similar density and weight to “real” timber, so it’s hard to tell just by picking it up. Often undersides or internal edges of chipboard furniture isn’t covered by veneers, so try flipping it over and taking a look.