Steven LaRose, Petra Haden, 2011
oil on acrylic on Masonite, 7 x 6 inches
Masonite was invented in 1924 in Laurel, Mississippi, by William H. Mason. Mass production started in 1929. In the 1930s and 1940s Masonite was used for many applications including doors, roofing, walls, desktops, and canoes. It is still sometimes used for house siding and, if kept painted at regular intervals, it will last the life of the house. Its popularity later faded, but it is still used, most notably by hobbyists. It is widely used for interior doors and gave birth to a door company of the same name.
It is formed using the Mason method, using wood chips, blasting them into long fibers with steam and then forming them into boards. The boards are then pressed and heated to form the finished boards. No glue or other material is added. The long fibers give Masonite a high bending strength, tensile strength, density and stability. Unlike other composite wood panels produced using formaldehyde-based resins to bind fibers, Masonite is made using natural ingredients only, which makes it an environmentally friendly product.
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.
It is also called Marsonite. In Europe, this product is also known as Isorel.
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.