MDF vs plywood: Which is the best option for your project?

[] Mentioned in detail in this article is the difference between MDF and Plywood including advantages and disadvantages. Read on to know more.

When you see MDF and plywood in the home renovation section of your local shop, it’s easy to confuse them. But they couldn’t be more different. Both are commonly used in the production of kitchen and modular furniture, and like any other material, MDF and plywood have benefits and disadvantages. Most homeowners are trapped in a conundrum when it comes to house interiors: what to select between MDF and Plywood, and why?

You are reading: MDF vs plywood: Which is the best option for your project?

MDF meaning

Let’s see what MDF wood has to offer.

Imagine removing all sawdust from other wood product manufacturing processes, then mixing it with binders and pressing it into giant plywood-sized sheets. Okay, this is an oversimplified version of the process, and it is not the actual technique used to create MDF, but it offers an understanding of the product’s composition.

MDF board full form is Medium Density Fibreboard. MDF full form must let you know that it is an engineered wood product that comes in sheets ranging in thickness from 4 mm to 24 mm. Presently, prices start at ₹34 per sq. ft. MDFs are hard-pressed into a sheet using wax and resin binders at a high temperature and pressure after breaking down wood residuals or sawdust into small particles. It is commonly used in ready-made furniture, cabinets, shelves in storage units, and ornamental wall cladding.

Advantages of MDF

  • MDF is typically less expensive than plywood.
  • The MDF surface is quite smooth, and there are no knots on the surface.
  • It’s a terrific surface for painting because it’s so smooth. It is recommended to start using it with a high-quality oil-based primer. (Avoid spraying aerosol primers on MDF! It just absorbs, resulting in a significant loss of time and money.)
  • MDF wood is also an excellent veneer substrate because of its smoothness.
  • Because MDF material is fairly consistent, the cut edges seem smooth and devoid of gaps or splinters.
  • Because of the clean edges, a router may be used to produce ornamental edges.
  • The MDF’s uniformity and smoothness make it easier to cut elaborate designs (such as a roll or cut design) with a scroll saw, band saw, or jigsaw.

Disadvantages of MDF

MDF like every other material has a set of drawbacks:

  • MDF absorbs water and other liquids like a sponge and expands if not properly sealed.
  • Because MDF is a solid material, it is heavy and difficult to work with.
  • Because it is made of fine fibre, it does not retain screws very well.
  • MDF is readily damaged and sags if not handled with care.

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What does plywood offer?

Plywood is made from debarked logs. The thin layers of the wooden logs are peeled away by turning them horizontally. To make a plywood panel, the veneer sheets created from this procedure are cut to the required size, dried, patched, glued, and cooked in a press at 140 ° C (284 ° F) and 1.9 MPa (280 psi). Prices start at ₹35 per sq. ft. Plywood is excellent for use in the building of dwellings, boats, floors, walls, and ceilings, depending on the grade. Cabinets can also be made from higher grades. Plywood may be used for interior, exterior, and even maritime construction because of its many treatments.

Advantages of Plywood

  • It is a very strong building material since it is made up of layers of wood veneer with various grain directions in each layer.
  • It is less prone to water damage than MDF, as it does not absorb water and does not swell as rapidly or readily.
  • It’s environmentally friendly, making it ideal for kitchen cabinets, tables, and other tasks requiring a big stained wood surface.
  • The screws are held quite firmly by the various wood grains in each layer, which provides something for the screws to grip.
  • Although most plywood includes urea-formaldehyde and other VOCs, formaldehyde-free plywood is now available. At Home Depot, look for the Purebond brand.

Disadvantages of Plywood

Before you leap to conclusions, here are some of the downsides of plywood that you should be aware of before purchasing it:

  • Plywood costs more than MDF, and the better the grade, the higher the price.
  • Because plywood has visible layers on the surface, it must be carefully finished with hardwood or ornate mouldings.
  • It is tough to make patterns using plywood since it is difficult to achieve completely clean cuts on it.
  • When not cut properly, plywood splinters readily, and the edges with layers may have cavities.

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plywood shelf

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So, which is preferable- plywood or MDF plywood?

The answer is dependent on how each of them is used! MDF, for example, is not resistant to dampness, water, or other liquids. This implies it should not be used on furniture indoors. MDF is also ideal for cutting and drilling due to its non-directional grain structure, which leaves no chips or splinters. MDF’s flat surface makes it an excellent choice for basic components that require a fresh coat of paint, such as kitchen cabinets, shelves, frames, and the like. Plywood, on the other hand, is widely used for stairwells, beds, doors, hardwood floors, and home exteriors. However, due to the grain, it bends easily and is widely used to construct curved surfaces. Water and moisture also have an impact on the durability of plywood. For the sections that will be exposed to the elements, exterior-glued plywood sheets can be utilised. It does, however, perform effectively if the moisture level remains low.

Let us understand the analytics of both the materials through this table that compares MDF wood to plywood.

MDF vs plywood

MDF plywood
Constituents Fine wood pieces are combined with wax and resin before being pressed at high temperatures. Many thin layers of wood veneer, or “plies,” are glued together under great pressure and temperature.
Structure The surface is smooth and free of knots. There is a rough surface and several knots.
Use Suitable for interior design Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Cost It costs less than plywood. It is almost usually more costly than the MDF board.
Moisture resistance Moisture Resistance is poor. Moisture resistance is high in marine-grade plywood.

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Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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