MDF and Exposure to Moisture


MDF is Medium Density Fiberboard. It is a man-made, wood-based solid product manufactured into the shape of boards. Often confused with particleboard, MDF is made from wood pulp fibers as opposed to the wood particles used in particleboard. The wood pulp is mixed with a formaldehyde-based wax resin, which holds it together. MDF boards are used in cabinetry manufacture in place of plywood because of MDF's strength and resistance to warping.

Resistance to Moisture

  • One of the disadvantages of using MDF instead of plywood is that MDF has not traditionally been as resistant to moisture. All wood and MDF products expand and contract in situations of high humidity or interaction with damp surfaces. In conditions where wood shrinkage is .05 percent, the MDF shrinkage will be .25 percent. (A moisture meter can be used to determine the content of the MDF before installation so that the builder can allow for shrinkage or expansion when installed in normal household conditions. MDF usually has moisture content of seven to 10 percent at the point of its manufacture.)

Protection of MDF by Proper Storage

  • At construction sites, MDF boards should be protected against weather conditions by placing them on pallets and, if possible, by standing them with air flow between each sheet. The sheets should be covered tightly with a canvas or other waterproof tarpaulin.

Protection from Moisture by Coating

  • A highly durable outer coating of melamine can be applied to MDF boards so that they become more moisture-resistant. Melamine is a hard plastic laminate that is either glued onto the MDF or is thermo-induced in an upgraded process during which the resin in the MDF adheres to the melamine, creating a more reliable veneer. (An added bonus to coating with melamine is that harmful formaldehyde vapors are sealed in and not released into areas where they may be carcinogenic.)

Protection from Moisture by Elevation

  • An installation tactic used to prevent moisture from contaminating MDF in the case of flood water in garages and cellars is that cabinets are not floor supported but hung from walls, thus elevating them from dangerous wet conditions.

The Future of MDF

  • Concern about the harmful vapors of urea formaldehyde from MDF board and its lack of resistance to moisture has caused researchers to take action to create a better product. Currently, one of the additives being considered for MDF is chicken feather fiber, which will lessen MDF's absorptive qualities.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit kitchen image by Rich Johnson from
Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • The Differences Between MDF & Particle Board

    MDF is short for medium density fiberboard. MDF and particleboard are two forms of inexpensive wood-based sheet goods used by home and...

  • How to seal MDF edges for painting

    If you have ever built a cabinet, counter, bench, or table out of medium density fibreboard and then tried to paint it,...

  • How to Repair Medium Density Fiberboard

    Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made from compressed wood fibers. It is generally cheaper than solid wood with a...

  • How to Dry Soaked MDF Floorboards

    Medium-density fiberboard, or MDF, is a wood product manufactured by breaking down scraps of soft or hardwood, mixing them with wax or...

  • How to Seal MDF

    MDF, commonly referred to as particle board, can be a difficult material to work with. Its very nature--compressed wood particles and wax--makes...

  • How to Raise MDF Water Resistance

    MDF (medium density fiberboard) is a composite wood made of wood fibers glued together under pressure. It is a popular choice for...

  • How to Mount MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard)

    MDF is a manufactured wood product consisting of wood fibers compressed to create strong panels that you can work with like natural...

  • How to Waterproof MDF

    Waterproofing medium-density fiberboard (MDF) will protect the MDF board from becoming damaged and deformed when exposed to moisture. MDF is used as...

  • What are MDF Boards?

    MDF is an abbreviation for medium density fiberboard. It is a type of hardboard made from wood fibers glued under intense heat...

  • The Best Ways to Seal MDF

    MDF is a composite wood product used in the building industry. The abbreviation stands for "medium density fiberboard." MDF is created by...

  • The Recycling of Waste Medium-Density Fibreboard Materials

    Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is difficult to recycle, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), because of the production techniques used to create...

  • What Are the Benefits of Melamine Kitchen Cabinets?

    Melamine is a term that refers to a manufactured type of plywood. Sheets of paper are mechanically injected with a type of...

Related Searches

Check It Out

22 DIY Ways to Update Your Home on a Small Budget

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!