Renovation contractors use Masonite board to level out floors and counter tops prior to installing tile or laminate finishes, and furniture manufacturers use it as a base material for low-cost products. Theater set designers often use Masonite boards for building sets because they are inexpensive and lightweight.
The Masonite Company originally conceived of the composite wood product as an inexpensive alternative material for exterior home sidings. It was popular for a period of time after its release, but eventually fell victim to an extensive series of class-action lawsuits. While the company no longer produces this product, the name lives on as a generic trademark that applies to a wide variety of shredded fiber boards.
Masonite board offers comparative strength to many hardboard products while being lighter and cheaper than wood. Tempered and untempered types of Masonite board exist; manufacturers treat the tempered variety with a special oil coating to enhance the finished boards' resistance to moisture because untempered Masonite is susceptible to warping and bending in the presence of moisture.
Benefits of Masonite board include its strength, density and flexibility. It holds fasteners and nails well because it is fabricated from pressed wood fibers. This distinguishes it from plywood, which is made by gluing together wood chips.