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Masonite board
Back side of a masonite board.
Isorel, с.1920
Quartrboard,[1] Masonite CORPORATION, c.1930

Masonite is a type of hardboard, another kind of engineered wood, which is made of steam-cooked and pressure-molded wood fibres in a process patented by William H. Mason.[2] This product is also known as Quartboard,[3] Isorel, hernit, karlit, torex, treetex[4] or pressboard.


A product resembling masonite (hardboard) was first made in England in 1898 by hot-pressing waste paper.[5] Masonite was patented in 1924 in Laurel, Mississippi,[6] by William H. Mason, who was a friend and protégé of inventor Thomas Edison.[7] Mass production started in 1929. In the 1930s and 1940s, Masonite was used for many applications including doors, roofing, walls, desktops,[8] and canoes. It was sometimes used for house siding.

Similar "tempered hardboard" is now a generic product made by many forest product companies. The Masonite Corporation entered the door business as a supplier of facings in 1972,[9] and was purchased in 2001 by Premdor Corporation, a door maker, from its former parent International Paper; it no longer supplies generic hardboard.


Masonite is formed using the Mason method,[10] in which wood chips are disintegrated by saturating them with 100-pound-per-square-inch (690 kPa) steam, then increasing the steam or air pressure to 400 pounds per square inch (2,800 kPa) and suddenly releasing them through an orifice to atmospheric pressure. Forming the fibers into boards on a screen, the boards are then pressed and heated to form the finished product with a smooth burnished finish. (Later a dry process with two burnished surfaces was also used.) The original lignin in the wood serves to bond the fibers without any added adhesive. The long fibers give Masonite a high bending strength, tensile strength, density, and stability. Unlike other composite wood panels, no formaldehyde-based resins are used to bind the fibers in Masonite.


A chessboard made of Masonite.

Artists have often used it as a support for painting,[11][12] and in artistic media such as linocut printing. Masonite's smooth surface makes it a suitable material for table tennis tables and skateboard ramps.

Masonite is used by moving companies. Among other things, they use it to protect the walls of buildings they are working in, and lay it on floors to enable smooth rolling of dollies loaded with goods.[13]

Masonite is widely used in construction, particularly in high-end renovations where floors are finished prior to other work and require protection. Sheets of 18-or-14-inch (3.2 or 6.4 mm) Masonite are typically laid over red rosin paper on finished floors to protect them. The Masonite sheets are taped together with duct tape to prevent shifting and to keep substances from leaking through.

Masonite is also used extensively in the construction of sets for theater and film and television. It is especially common in theaters as the stage floor, painted matte black.

It is also considered one of the best materials in the making of a musical wobble board.

Masonite 4-by-8-foot (1.2 by 2.4 m) panels are sometimes purchased and sawn into 4-inch (100 mm) high by 8-foot long strips. These 4-inch high strips are used by concrete workers for forming the perimeter or outside edge of sidewalks where curved walkways are desired when concrete is poured into forms.[14]

Masonite is also a popular choice for cake boards for professional cake decorators, due to its being a natural product and being strong enough to support multiple tiered creations, such as wedding cakes.

To a lesser extent, Masonite is used in guitar bodies, most notably by Danelectro.

Due to its cheap cost and flexibility, Masonite is widely used as the curved surface of skateboard ramps.

Masonite was also a popular protective backing for wooden console stereo and television cabinets, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Due to its flexibility, masonite is a common material used by model railroad enthusiasts for their layouts as fascia, to help cover the building materials used for the layout.


Masonite swells and rots over time when exposed to the elements, and may prematurely deteriorate when it is used as exterior siding. In 1996, International Paper (IP) lost a class action suit brought by homeowners whose Masonite siding had deteriorated. The jury found that IP's Masonite siding was defective.[15]

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