Use the code "10SLIDE" at checkout to get 10% off your sliding door order! The offer ends on 31 August 2024.
OPEN: MON - FRI 8AM - 5PM
Current lead time for cut & edge orders is 4 - 5 working daysCOLLECTIONS: 8AM - 4PM
Current lead time for cut & edge orders is 4 - 5 working days

Materials To Consider

Most common uses of MDF

MDF has become one of the most commonly used construction materials, even as popular as plywood. It might not be exactly like natural wood, but it has many different qualities that have led to it becoming widely used. In this post, we'll go through some common uses of MDF, and how effective it is in each of these applications.

But first...

What is MDF?

MDF, short for Medium Density Fiberboard, is a wood product made by combining wood fibres with wax and a resin binding agent. Once the wood fibres and glue are mixed, they're pressed into flat panels using high temperatures and pressure. MDF is available in both sheet and panel form, and it can be cut and shaped to meet the needs of any project.

Similarly to plywood and particleboard, you'll be able to find large sheets and panels of MDF at varying different thicknesses. For instance, the Medite Premier MDF - the standard MDF type available at C Workshop - ranges between 3mm and 38mm. You'll also be able to find medium-density fiberboard with different qualities, such as the Medite Flame Retardant MDF, which has been specially treated to be able to suppress fires. 

MDF is viewed to be a more affordable wood product. Many producers have started replacing their plywood with MDF. However, its affordability is a big part of why another reason is that MDF boards are much easier to paint on as they have a smooth surface. Just seal the MDF material with PVA glue or an oil-based primer beforehand. It's also easier to use and more flexible than other wood types.

Due to its different qualities, medium density fiberboard is used for various other purposes. Here's our list of some of its most common applications.

Making furniture

One of the most common uses for medium density fiberboard is to make low-cost furniture. If you've ever purchased a piece of flat-pack furniture, it's highly likely that it was constructed with MDF boards. This is because MDF boards are much easier to work with than solid wood and are also significantly cheaper to produce, lowering the overall cost of manufacturing. You can also easily paint the boards to make them look much nicer.

It's important to note that MDF boards are most commonly used for low-end furniture because it's not the most durable or water-resistant material. It is considered much weaker than solid wood, but if you're on a tight budget, it is possible to build good furniture with MDF.

What's a popular use for MDF furniture?

Shaker-style Doors.

Shaker-style doors are often made from MDF due to its price and workability factors.

Cabinetry & shelving

MDF is also frequently used to construct interior cabinets and shelving, although how much of the cabinet is made of MDF sheets depends on the cabinet size. If it is smaller, the entire cabinet may be made of MDF sheets, whereas larger cabinets might be mainly constructed with solid wood but will have a door made of MDF boards. You'll also be able to build bathroom vanities using moisture-resistant MDF, as they can withstand the humidity.

If you're nervous that your MDF-constructed cabinet isn't strong enough for shelving purposes, don't be. Although not as strong as solid wood, MDF boards can hold glasses, plates, and other kitchen utensils perfectly. For cabinets entirely made of MDF they're typically veneered with a wood laminate on top.

Does MDF make for good cabinets and shelves?

Yes they do.

MDF is easy to work with, robust and can ge wither painted, or surfaced with a melamine decor, making it versatile.

Soundproofing

This might surprise many people, but MDF boards can effectively soundproof a space. Medium density fiberboard can stop sound waves from travelling much, and these sheets don't vibrate as much when in contact with many loud sounds. Many speaker production companies will use MDF sheets in speaker casing builds as they can absorb sound and don't vibrate inside the speaker casing. 

Music studios will tend to have boards of MDF built into the walls to prevent sound from travelling through the walls. Sheets of MDF have also been used outside of music-related settings, such as apartments and office buildings, to dampen the sound and minimise noise pollution. 
It might not be the most foolproof soundproofing material on the market, but it's an excellent low-budget sound dampener.  

Can MDF help with sound proofing?

Yes it can.

The structure and density of MDF can effectively help reduce noise whilst looking decorative at the same time.

Vapour repulsion

Although not completely waterproof, MDF boards can be used as an effective vapour barrier. It should be noted that this is only applicable to certain types of moisture resistant MDF (MR MDF) that have been manufactured with special resins. When these MDF boards are exposed to moisture and humidity, they can dry out without shrinking, rotting, or cracking. They become even more effective when supplemented with moisture-resistant paint and other vapour-repelling treatments. 

Moisture-resistant MDF boards are most commonly used in the construction of bathrooms, kitchens, floors, and any other areas with high humidity levels that would cause standard MDF sheets to swell. However, these areas should ideally be well-ventilated as water resistant MDF can disintegrate if it stays wet for too long. 

Where in the home can I put MR MDF?

Bathrooms and Kitchens.

Aside from bathrooms and kitchens, MR MDF can be used inlaundry rooms or anywhere else that is expected to be humid.

Fire resistance

When you think of wood-based materials, you might only immediately expect them to be fire resistant. But there is a type of MDF designed to be fire retardant. Fire resistant MDF consists of special chemicals that prevent the board from combusting as the fire cannot take hold. 

Many buildings require fire retardant MDF, especially offices, kitchens, and other structures, following specific building and safety requirements. Fire retardant MDF is not 100% fireproof; however, it can slow down the spread and severity of fires. It gives you more time to suppress and stop the fire.

Where's the best place for FR MDF?

Public places and buildings.

FR MDF is used in public places such as cinemas, theatres, shopping centres and restaurants — anywhere that has certain fire safety regulations.

Flooring

MDF wood can also be used for flooring. Tile manufacturers often use MDF to produce wood effect laminates and tiles, especially when these tiles are made for areas with minimal foot traffic and moisture. This is because MDF panels are weaker than other woods, such as plywood or hardwood and wouldn't hold up well in high traffic or wet areas. MDF sheets are often also better used as underlayment, placed between the floor and subfloor, due to their effectiveness at insulation and soundproofing. 

What makes MDF good for flooring?

Its strength and price.

Not only is MDF durable, but from a cost perspective, it is reasonable compared to alternatives. MDF flooring also come in all types of designs.

MDF for your next project

Medium density fiberboard is an excellent multipurpose material. MDF wood has proven to be a genuinely versatile construction material from flooring, soundproofing, furniture making, and roofing. Consider MDF panels next time you're looking for materials for your next carpentry project. There's a high chance you'll find the right type of MDF for you.