If you are trying to pick the best possible material for your upcoming woodworking project, then you might have come across MDF. But of course, you would probably have hundreds of questions strangling you to death about whether you should go with it or not. The thing is, every material used in the woodworking industry comes with different properties. Those properties can actually work great for different scenarios, and that is where the pros and cons come in.
That is why we will be discussing the MDF advantages and disadvantages in this article to get a better overview of all the things. But before that, let’s have a look at what MDF actually is!
What Is MDF?
MDF stands for Medium-density fiberboard, and after reading it, half of your questions would be solved already. MDF is simply a type of wood that is used in woodworking projects. But one crucial and important thing to note here is that MDF is not a naturally occurring wood that you could find anywhere. It is an artificial or engineered wood that is compressed to make it denser or less dense, depending on the scenario.
Top 10 Advantages Of MDF!
So these are the top 10 advantages of MDF that might really make you buy it for your next project. So let’s have a look and determine why it can be a great pick!
Would you really want to go with a wood that is costing you 80% of the actual cost price of the product? Definitely not! That is why cost management is essential when it comes to buying the material for the project you are going to work on. If we take a look at the MDF, it actually is economical. Not only that, MDFs are even cheaper than natural wood, and that is what attracts many woodworkers towards it.
2. Smoothness and Finishing
MDFs are usually used for premium-quality furniture and similar projects. But the question is, have you ever wondered why that is and why not go for any other type of wood? Well, the simple reason behind it is that MDFs offer excellent finishing and smoothness. You will not be able to find kinks, holes, spots, or even bumps on the wood. All of these things make MDF an excellent pick for any product that requires perfect finishing.
3. Convenient Cutting and Drilling
What would you do if you have bought some boards for your project and you start drilling it, and it breaks? The curse aside, you will undoubtedly have to face many problems as your money will most probably be lost. But that is where MDF wins the battle as it is considered to be one of the best boards to work with machines on. It does not precisely matter if you are using a drilling machine, saw, or any type of cutter; the board will maintain its shape, and you will be able to do the job accordingly.
As for why this happens, this is because MDFs contain minimal grain, which makes it easier for different processes. Other than that, the compression and density also play a small role in the whole case.
4. Insects Prevention
As I have stated earlier, MDF is not a naturally occurring wood, but it is engineered by the humans themselves. In the whole process, MDF is gone through several chemicals and substances which apparently protect the wood from insects. Unlike many other types of woods, you will not have to worry about surprise holes in your cupboard or table.
But do note that all MDFs do not contain this property. It depends on the manufacturers what type of chemicals they have used and if they are made for the purpose or not.
5. Looks Enhancement
It is pretty evident that you will certainly not get MDF according to the color or stain you want. So what would you do in that scenario? In that case, you can simply opt for suitable colors, stains, or any other type of chemical to put on the MDF, and it will work flawlessly. MDF supports different colors, and you will not have to go through problems like dried spots or unfinished looks.
We have all been hearing the saying like “World is dying” or “Protect the environment” for a long time now. Well, you cannot deny the fact that both of the sayings are true in their own way because of the environmental changes we all are facing. Keeping that in mind, MDF is actually a pretty great solution to this problem. Instead of cutting trees, MDF is manufactured from the remains of the previously built materials.
In other words, it is made from recycled products, and it can really be great for our environment for the longer term.
7. Quick and Easy Lamination
Many woodworkers prefer to laminate the material for better usage and reliability. So if you are wondering if you will be able to do the lamination on MDF, then yes, you can easily do that! They can be quite feasibly attached to the wood, and they will also not come off that quickly once attached.
8. No Effect Of Atmospheric Changes
It is pretty standard for wood to expand or contract when exposed to atmospheric changes. Not only that, it can be hazardous for your finished products as the expansion or contraction can ruin the looks and the quality of your product. But in the case of MDF, the contraction or expansion does not really happen.
But if you splash water on the MDF, it might get swollen a little, but it will still be considerably lower than the natural wood or other types.
9. Efficient Designing And Carving
If you are working on a project that requires different designs and styles, then you might really want to go for MDFs. Because there is no grain substance in MDFs, they can be easily carved without ruining the other parts. You can also cut the whole thing in different styles, and there will be no significant problem that might affect the entire project.
10. Suitable For Most Projects
Due to the nature and properties of MDF, it can actually be suitable for many projects. If we specifically talk about home furniture, MDF can be the first pick for many woodworkers out there. This is because of all the advantages mentioned above. Besides, MDF is also readily available and can be afforded by most people.
Top 5 Disadvantages of MDF!
Now it is time to look at the bad side and see where in which aspects MDF can disappoint you!
1. Durability For The Longer Term
Yes, MDF is sturdy, MDF can also offer you easiness, but when it comes to long-term durability, it is not a good option. The overall durability of MDF is below average, and that is why you might have to face breakage or even flexibility issues after a few years.
2. Complicated Installation
As I have stated above, MDF comes with a lower density. That is why it requires a considerable amount of nails to attach it with another piece or for simple binding. Not only that, but you might also have to use the nails with very close intervals to make them appropriately sturdy.
3. Requires Expertise When Nailing Or Drilling
We all just tend to put a nail at the surface and hammer it until it is all the way down. Well, it is a good way, but it might not work with MDF. The surface of the MDFs should be treated carefully when nailing or drilling. This is because the nails can leave massive bumps or marks if not done correctly.
4. Low Weight Support
If you are planning to use MDF for a bookshelf where you are going to put hundreds of books or kitchen cabinets, then you should stop! MDFs are not really designed to hold off massive weight, and they can bend or even break over time. Not only that, but more weight can also crack the surface, which would definitely be a burden on you.
5. Eco-friendly, but not for your body!
The production of MDFs consists of chemicals that can cause significant damage to your lungs. Not only that, the dust produced during the process can affect your breathing too, and the effects can remain for multiple days before vanishing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is MDF bad for your health?
Only the production process of MDF is bad for your health. You should use proper equipment during the process to avoid major concerns. After the completion, there will be no risks to your health.
Is MDF waterproof?
No, MDF is not waterproof. MDF is usually quite good at facing moisture. If you deliberately put it in place with water droplets or a whole splash, you will have to face problems.
How do you waterproof MDF panels?
You can simply use paint or any other type of chemical to waterproof the MDF panels. Make sure to opt for the chemicals that are suitable for your project and would work well for you.
Is MDF stronger than plywood?
Unfortunately, No, MDF is not stronger than plywood. While MDF might offer you a better carving and cutting experience, plywood is a lot stronger. In fact, for the longer-term usage, plywood is nowhere to be compared with MDF.
Does MDF break easily?
Due to less density and elasticity, MDF tends to break quite easily than the other materials. That is why it is quite better not to put too much pressure on MDFs if you really want to use them for multiple years.
As for the final thoughts, you will have to check out what type of project you are going to make. If it is being made for the short term or does not force the wood too much, MDFs can work great. But if the case is reversed, you might want to look for other options.