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What’s the Difference Between Single and Double-Sided Printed Circuit Boards?

Author: Doreen Gao

May. 25, 2022

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Tags: Electrical Equipment & Supplies

You can likely guess what the significant difference is between these two types of PCBs based on their names. Single-sided layer boards have just one layer of base materials, known as a substrate. A double-sided PCB has more than a single layer board but fewer than a multi-layer. Like the single-sided variation, they have one substrate layer but the difference is that they have a layer of conductive metal on both sides of the substrate.


Both single and double-sided prototypes PCBs server as an electrical catalyst in order to transmit power and make connections between different components.


Double-sided PCBs have become a convenient way to double the conducting power of the substrate core without sacrificing the surface area. The through-holes components are mounted on the top and surface mounts are present on the bottom. They are connected through viasor holes that connect the two sides.

A single-sided board has three main layers that are assembled on this board. First one is the conductor material, the second one is a solder mask which provides protection to the board from the outer environment conditions and the third layer is the silkscreen.


A double-sided board has a conductive path on both sides having copper, solder mask and silkscreen.


The cost of manufacturing and producing a single sided board is very cost-effective and affordable due to it being simple and basic designs. Double sided circuit boards tend to use more complex circuity as there is more space. This means that these boards are perfect for advanced electronics or demanding applications. But being able to use both sides of the circuit board effectively reduces the size of the board needed.

Deciding Whether You Need Single-Layer or Multi-Layer PCBs

To determine whether you need single-layer or multi-layer printed circuit boards, you need to consider the needs of your project and which type best meets them. Ask yourself these five questions:

1. What level of functionality do I need? If it's more complicated, you may need multiple layers.

2. What is the maximum size the board can be? Multi-layer boards can fit more functionality into a smaller space.

3. Is durability a priority? If so, go with multi-layer.

4. What is my budget? For more modest budgets, single-layer boards work best.

5. How quickly do I need the PCBs? Single-layer printed circuit boards have a shorter lead time compared to multi-layer printed circuit boards.



You will also have to deal with more technical questions regarding requirements, such as the operation frequency, density and signal layers you need. Determining the answers to these questions will help you figure out if you need a board with one, two, four or more layers. For more information about these specifications and other tips on choosing a PCB design, check out our blog post on the topic.