MDF

For many people, MDF is not an alien term. However, for some, these initials are as mysterious as they can be. So, what is MDF, and what is it used for?

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What is MDF?

Wondering what the heck an MDF is? The initials stand for Medium Density Fibreboard. It is an engineered wood sheet product that consists of refined wood grits that are mixed with wax and resin and pressed under immense pressure and temperature to form flat panels. It is used in various applications such as building material and production of furniture.

Often, many people confuse MDF board with plywood, but MDF wood is effortless to use with industrial machinery and comes with a smooth surface, and that’s why it is suitable for applying surface paint and finishes.

Generally, it is an excellent sheet material; cost-effective, robust and versatile. We often interact with it at work (shop fittings, construction products, furniture), or home (shelving, kitchens, bathrooms, etc.).

Types of MDF Board

There are four main types of MDF wood. They include:

Particle Board

As the name suggests, this type of MDF panelling is engineered from small particles that are bonded together with resin under extreme pressure and temperature. The process starts typically by cutting wood shavings and chippings into even smaller particles before compacting them to form the board.

Fibreboard

A fibreboard is made using a relatively lower temperature compared to particleboard. Different binding agents and resins (formaldehyde) are utilised during the process. This type of MDF is considered a little more eco-friendly since it uses wood chippings as well as organic fibre from vegetable starch and sugarcane.

Laminated MDF Board

It is made from wood fibres that are subjected to high pressure and temperature. However, some are manufactured by gluing together several thin panels and subjecting them to high pressure to come up with strong and stiff boards. Laminated boards usually are denser compared to fibre or particleboard.

Veneered Board

To come up with this type of MDF that looks and feels like wood, the board is veneered by use of decorative wood patterns. The veneers are designed into round curves using immense pressure and some stretching methods to create spiral designs over the surface.

Common Uses of MDF Board

MDF board is used in several home and professional projects, including;

  • Furniture
  • Flooring
  • Doors and windows frames
  • Shelving
  • Cabinets
  • Wainscoting
  • Decorative projects
  • Tradeshow booths and theatre set construction
  • Speaker boxes etc.

Pros of MDF

  • Generally inexpensive compared to wood or plywood
  • It doesn’t have splinters or voids, so it provides consistent surface
  • Its smooth surface makes it possible to paint
  • Effortless to cut using band saw, jigsaw, screw saw with no tearing out or splinting

Cons

  • It is vulnerable to moisture, so it swells if exposed to water.
  • It is very heavy compared to plywood
  • Since it soaks up the stain, it cannot be stained.
  • Doesn’t have wood grains for beauty like wood.
  • Since it is made of small particles, doesn’t hold the screws perfectly.
  • It contains urea-formaldehyde so one should be careful when cutting it to avoid inhaling the particles.

Conclusion

Applied well and in the right place, MDF is, undoubtedly, the best sheet material to use for most home and professional applications.

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