MDF vs Plywood


While MDF is generally cheaper than plywood, it is not as hard and can sag under heavy weight. MDF doesn't handle moisture very well, either, so it is more suited for indoor use such as in furniture. Moisture also affects the strength of plywood; exterior glued plywood can be used outdoors, but it works best when moisture content remains low.

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Constituents Wood fibers got by breaking down hardwood and softwood residuals are combined using wax and resin and heat pressed Thin sheets of veneer are glued together
Structure Uniform, smooth and free of knots and grain patterns. Odd number of layers with grains of adjacent layers at right angles to each other. Face veneers are higher grade than the core veneers.
Safety hazards Use of urea-formaldehyde and phenol-formaldehyde resin which are carcinogenic in very high concentration Use of urea-formaldehyde and phenol-formaldehyde resin which are carcinogenic in very high concentration
Uses Cabinet construction, crafts, Mouldings/trim, shelving (bookshelf sliding) Roofs, Walls, Subfloors, Boxes, Packages, Sports equipment, Musical equipment, Playground equipment, High-end loud speakers

Contents: MDF vs Plywood

A Christmas tree made of plywood.
A Christmas tree made of plywood.

edit What is MDF?

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product formed from wood fibers obtained by breaking down hardwood and softwood using a defibrator. The wood fibers are then glued together using wax and resin adhesive and made into panels by applying high temperature and pressure.

edit What is Plywood?

Plywood is made from good log called peelers. Thin layers are peeled from the wood by rotating it along its horizontal axis. The sheets of veneer thus obtained are cut to the desired dimensions, dried, patched, glued together and then baked in a press at 140 °C (284 °F) and 1.9 MPa (280 psi) to form a plywood panel.

edit Strength and durability

MDF is not as hard as plywood and can be damaged easily when handled rough. It is not as stiff as plywood and can sag with weight when used as shelves without reinforcement.

The cross graining of plywood improves dimensional stability by reducing expansion and shrinkage equating. The strength of panels is consistent across both directions. Moreover, the odd number of sheets reduces warping. Another advantage of plywood is that extreme cold does not affect its dimensions or strength.

edit Workability

When driving a screw at the edge, the soft core of MDF splits easily. When a countersink drill bit is not used, the head of the screw might snap off before sinking in or it might push up chips. The smooth finish of MDF allows it to be painted and also makes it ideal for shaping or routing. Due to its non-directional grain structure, it is ideal for cutting, machining and drilling without splinters or chipping. The absence of knots makes it easier for finishing.

The cross graining of plywood reduces its tendency to split when nailed at the edges.

edit Cost

MDF is usually cheaper than plywood but a lot depends upon the grade of plywood. Higher grade plywood is more expensive. A 1/4 Bendy MDF Sheet (24 x 48) is about $20 on while a Grade BB plywood sheet (1/4 thick, 24 x 30) is $10 on Amazon.

edit Uses in construction

MDF is used for doors and internal paneling in construction. MDF was exclusively developed for furniture. MDF is mainly used for indoor applications due to its poor moisture resisting characteristics.

Plywood is used for doors, exterior stairs, external cladding, flooring, framing, interior rails and balustrades, interior stairs, internal paneling, shear walls, timber joinery products and timber portal frames in construction. Plywood bends easily with the grain so it is often used to create curved surfaces. For example, the top smooth surface over bent curves in skateboard ramps.

Sculptor Tom Sachs made this short film about his love for the versatile plywood.

edit Disadvantages and Risks

edit Plywood

Plywood is porous and is susceptible to damage when exposed to water over time.

edit MDF

edit References

Comments: MDF vs Plywood

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February 11, 2014, 6:19am

realy gud information

— 37.✗.✗.203

January 27, 2014, 7:08am

MDF weighs a ton,and the dust is horrible,you get dirty when you work it.Plywood is a lot lighter,cleaner,and smells better,and holds screws,nails,dowels,better.Plywood would repair better.MDF has it uses but for cabinets i would choose plywood,cost wise it isn`t that much more.

— 27.✗.✗.186

October 1, 2013, 12:11pm

Helped me with my homework ;)

— 92.✗.✗.75
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