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 and pressure. This building material is frequently sold in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets and comes in varying thicknesses similar to plywood. MDF is a common material used in many interior building projects.


  • MDF was first manufactured at a plant in upstate New York in 1966 and quickly caught on as a viable building material. As of 2010, 27 plants across the U.S. and Canada and over 100 plants worldwide manufacture medium density fiberboard. On average, only 65 percent of a log is usable as lumber. MDF boards come from the part of the tree that left over after the milling process. Since the debut of fiberboards, it is now possible to use more of the tree in the construction process.


  • Besides its price, MDF has several advantages that make this building material a common occurrence on construction sites. Perhaps the most desirable characteristic is its fine grain. For this reason, the material offers a smooth surface that takes well to a coat of paint. This is particularly true if you apply the paint with a sprayer. Medium density fiberboard can also be worked with various types of machines, and is useful in cabinet making. The latter activity is possible because cabinet makers can dowel or join a sheet of MDF, as with traditional lumber.


  • The main problem with medium density fiberboard concerns the urea formaldehyde, a substance used in the manufacturing process to bind the wood particles together. Users can overcome this disadvantage with the proper use of all necessary safety equipment while cutting or sanding. Anyone working with the material must keep in the mind that the dust is toxic, so gloves, dust respirators and goggles are imperative. Ensure that the workplace is well ventilated, as well.

Uses of MDF

  • Since MDF looks attractive with a fresh coat of paint or wood veneer, it is a common material around the home or office. However, the product is not always easily recognizable after its installation, often because of the outer covering. Common places you might find MDF are in kitchen cabinets, furniture construction or the assembly of sound speakers. Sheets of medium density fiberboard also work as a subfloor for laminates and an underlayment for countertops.

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