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MDF/HDF Cabinet Doors vs. Wood Cabinet Doors

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

We hear it all the time, "I don't want any MDF cabinets, I want solid wood." Well, sometimes MDF is the best choice. Here we'll explain why.

What is MDF/HDF?

HDF (high density fiberboard) and MDF (medium density fiberboard) are one of the most widely used materials in furniture construction. They are both wood substitute products that are engineered by combining wood fiber and glue under extremely high pressure and heat to create a solid sheet product. The wood fibers used come mostly from recycled products making MDF and HDF and environmentally friendly product.

What are the differences between HDF and MDF?

The primary differences, aside from cost, between MDF and HDF is that MDF is lighter and more versatile for furniture making, cabinets, shelves, and other decorative items. HDF is a stronger product, with a higher price tag, primarily used for high use furniture, laminated flooring, and panels. Cabinet makers have found great use in MDF/HDF as a cabinet making material due to the fact that is is highly resistant to expansion and contraction due to heat and humidity fluctuations. MDF/HDF also takes paint very well and it is an extremely smooth product with great workability.

Where is MDF/HDF used in cabinet construction?

MDF/HDF are primarily used in the door construction and accessories such and moldings and decorative items. Most cabinet boxes are made from either furniture grade plywood or particle board depending on the manufacturer. The doors can be either 100% MDF/HDF or jus the center panels can be made from MDF/HDF. A full MDF door will usually be painted and made to look just like a painted wood door. A stained cabinet door may have wood stiles and rails, or laminated all around over MDF to look like wooden stained doors.

Why is MDF/HDF a good choice for my cabinets?

MDF/HDF is an appropriate choice for consumers living in high humidity environments where there could be higher fluctuations of temperature and humidity that will have a negative impact on wood. Since HDF/MDF doesn't expand and contract like wood, your cabinets will look and perform better given the environment that it's installed in. Of course, as any construction material, it does have its drawbacks. Once damaged, it usually can't be repaired. MDF/HDF have a low tolerance for water and absorb it very easily is exposed. If your kitchen is under constant use, wear and tear might shorten the life of MDF/HDF cabinet doors vs wooden cabinet doors. As you can see, MDF/HDF has its place in the furniture industry and may be appropriate for you depending on certain environmental and use conditions.

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