There are several misconceptions about MDF boards and are often confused with plywood and fibreboards. An MDF board is an acronym for medium density fibreboard. It is mostly considered to be a wood substitute and is taking over the industry as a useful material for decorative products as well as home furniture. MDF board is plastered with veneers and is given to look of finely grained wood. It is highly preferred where there is less need of strength. Above all the cost of an MDF board is one tenth when compared to the price of a wood board of equivalent size. Even after the MDF board becoming so popular, very few people know how it is made.
How are MDF boards made?
MDF boards are called recycled wood boards too sometimes as they are made from fine wood particles. They are made from logs of wood that are not considered fit to be processed and turned into plywood. The logs are first debarked and then after the cambium layer is removed, they are cut into fine pieces, screened and re-chipped if needed and made suitable to be used in the manufacturing of MDF boards. All the impurities are removed and then the wood is mixed with resins and waxes and eventually pressed into boards. After that, the boards are dried, laminated and packaged for selling or are used for manufacturing various products. Basically, MDF boards are a just by-product of sawdust.
Advantages of MDF boards:
- The foremost advantage is that it is cheaper than particle board as well as plywood. So, if you are looking for furniture that fits within your budget, MDF board furniture is what you can look for.
- MDF boards have a smooth surface and that makes it aesthetically pleasing. Also, there are no knots on the surface to daunt its looks.
- As it has a smooth surface, painting it is easy and it makes the surface even more aesthetically pleasing.
- Veneer, which is a good decorating material for furniture needs a substrate for support. As MDF boards are smooth, they act as the most suitable substrate.
- MDF boards are linear and consistent. There are no voids or splinters and that makes the cut edges to appear smoother.
- As the edges are smooth, they look decorative and also there is less work required to make furniture out of MDF boards.
- The continuous surface of MDF boards eases the process of cutting and carving. You can cut out these boards in any shapes and sizes.
Disadvantages of MDF boards:
- MDF boards will soak up water and all other liquids as easily as a sponge would. These boards swell when kept in water for longer periods. So, it needs to be sealed with primer or paint to prevent it from soaking up water.
- As MDF has basically sawdust in it, it is unable to hold screws well. As when holes are drilled into it, the board can fall apart.
- As it is really dense, MDF boards are heavier than plywood and its other counterparts. This makes it difficult to handle.
- MDF boards have resins and waxes in it along with primer, paint etc. All these substances are toxic and care has to be taken to not inhale it while cutting and working with MDF boards. It is highly recommended that these boards are cut in open air spaces while wearing a particle mask or it may lead to breathing problems.
After being aware of all the advantages and disadvantages, the main question that arises is that when to use plywood and when to use MDF boards as the building material. The answer is simple, though not that obvious. All you need to know is the usage of the furniture that is being manufactured and then determine if MDF board is a suitable manufacturing material. For example, items that needs constant exposure to water, the ones that need to support extremely heavy objects, or the ones which need a lot of screws inserted, should not be made using MDF boards.