Masonite is a type of hardboard made of steam-cooked and pressure-molded wood fibres in a process patented by William H. Mason. This product is also known as Isorel, hernit, karlit, torex or treetex.
A product resembling masonite (hardboard) was first made in England in 1898 by hot pressing waste paper. Masonite was patented in 1924 in Laurel, Mississippi, by William H. Mason, who was a friend and protégé of inventor Thomas Edison. Mass production started in 1929. In the 1930s and 1940s Masonite was used for many applications including doors, roofing, walls, desktops, 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, 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, in which wood chips are disintegrated by saturating them with 100psi steam, then increasing the steam or air pressure to 400psi 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.
Artists have often used it as a support for painting,  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 also popular among theater companies as an inexpensive way to resurface stage floors.
Moving companies are large users of Masonite. 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.
Masonite is widely used in construction, particularly in high-end renovations where floors are finished prior to other work and require protection. Sheets of ⅛" or ¼" Masonite are typically laid over 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 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.
Masonite was also a popular protective backing for wooden console stereo and television cabinets, from the 1960s to the 1980s.
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.
- Masonite International
- Engineered wood
- Glued laminated timber
- Medium-density fiberboard
- Oriented strand board
- Particle board
- Pressed wood
- Paintings on Masonite by Joan Miró
- The History of Masonite
- fr.wikipedia.org Isorel
- SvD: Masonit i våra hjärtan
- Akers, 1966, p. x
- "1925 - Masonite Europe". Masonite Europe. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- SouthBear (March 2002). "William H. Mason: The Man Who Went to Lunch". Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- "The History of Masonite".
- U.S.Patents 1,578,609 & 1,586,159
- "Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937". Online exhibition catalogue. MoMA. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Сhristie's, Louis Valtat, "Child on the Carpet", 1910
- "Jury finds International Paper's Masonite siding defective". Thefreelibrary.com. 1996-09-13. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
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