MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard. Yes quite the mouthful! Thus the abbreviation.
A commonly used construction material is an engineered product composed of small wood fibers bonded together with a resin binder and wax using high temperature and pressure to complete the process. It is very versatile and fairly durable. Used for furniture, shelving, moldings and more.
Pros of MDF
- It is more affordable than other options. This makes it a great economic install choice.
- It can be mixed and matched with solid wood trims and so forth. Get creative!
- It’s smooth surface makes it ideal for surface painting
- Decorative edges achieved easily. Great for creating designs with a router.
- It is considered durable and looks great once installed and finished.
- It is mold resistant.
Cons of MDF
- It soaks up water and other liquids like a sponge. MDF can swell unless it is sealed well on all sides and edges.
- This material cannot be stained. Again the water and swelling issue. Also since MDF has no wood grain, staining does not look good.
- MDF does not hold screws well due to its fine particle construction.
- It is dense and therefore very heavy. This can make it difficult to work with.
- It contains VOCs meaning careful precautions must be taken when cutting and sanding
When working with MDF…..
There are some important considerations.
- Wear a good mask! MDF created a lot of fine dust and contains VOCs. So, whenever possible, cut and sand outside also.
- Handle with care. MDF is quite durable, however the ends an corners can be prone to crushing during transport.
- Avoid buying full sheets as MDF is heavy! Opt for half and quarter sheets instead.
- For a smooth paint job, lightly sand edges with 100- grit paper and apply solvent based primer only. Water-based will raise small bumps. Stay clear.
- Avoid splits and cracks by using a counter sinking drill bit.
In summery, MDF is a versatile construction material. It does come with some strengths and some limitations. It may be worth the affordability… Or maybe not. You decide.