MDF or Plywood which one could be a better choice? This question has been common and many of them have different options too. Both of them have their own specialities. Here we are comparing MDF and Plywood to select which one is better.
What is MDF?
MDF is medium density fiberboard, which is basically engineered wood obtained by breaking down hardwood and softwood composites. Since it is made up of small wood fibres, there are no visible wood grains or knots. The fibres are joined together, using wax to produce panels by applying pressure or high temperature. e. The resulting smooth wood product has no wood grain and shares many characteristics with particleboard. However, MDF is slightly stronger particleboard. You can purchase MDF in a variety of thicknesses and grades. It’s the material typically used in ready-made furniture, cabinets, shelves in storage units and decorative wall cladding.
Advantages of MDF
- MDF is generally cheaper than plywood.
- The surface of MDF is very smooth which makes it a great surface for painting.
- MDF is very consistent throughout, so cut edges appear smooth and won’t have voids or splinters.
- Because of the smooth edges, you can use a router to create decorative edges.
- The consistency and smoothness of MDF allow for easy cutting of detailed designs (such as scrolled or scalloped designs) using a scroll saw, band saw or jigsaw.
What is Plywood?
Plywood is also an engineered wood product, made by pressing and binding sheets of wood veneer together into one solid piece. Like MDF, plywood comes not only in different thicknesses but also in different grades, so you can choose the right one for your project. Lower grades are used in the construction of houses. The higher grades of plywood (stain grade, cabinet grade, etc.) are much prettier and smoother. Depending on the grade, plywood is best for use in the construction of homes, boats, floors, walls, and ceilings. Higher grades are suited to make cabinets. Because of the different treatments of plywood, it can serve for interior, exterior and even marine construction purposes.
Advantages of plywood
- Made from multiple layers of wood veneer, plywood is a very strong material to work with.
- It won’t soak up water and liquids as quickly or easily as MDF does so it’s less susceptible to water damage.
- Because it carries a grain, plywood is stainable. Which makes it perfect for kitchen cabinets, tabletops and other projects where you want a large stained wood surface.
- It holds screws very tightly since the varying grains of wood on each layer give the screws something to hold onto.
These two popular wood composites are not interchangeable. Both have their strengths and weaknesses based on their construction. Let’s analyse some factors
Price: While the price depends on the thickness and grade of the material, in general, MDF costs less than plywood. Higher grades of plywood are more expensive because they are more aesthetically pleasing, often displaying natural hardwood or softwood grains. If there are zero other factors pushing you to one material over another,then MDF is the best choice
Usage: MDF is used for doors and internal panelling in construction, where moisture is less likely to damage it, but was exclusively developed for furniture. As such, it is mainly used for indoor applications. Plywood is used for doors, exterior stairs, external cladding, flooring, framing, interior rails and balustrades, interior stairs, internal panelling, shear walls, timber joinery products, and timber portal frames in construction.
Appearance: Since plywood is made with wood strips, its surfaces take on the solid-wood appearance better than MDF. Higher grades of plywood are smooth and quite attractive, with plenty of grain, yet none of the knotholes that can mar solid wood. MDF, in contrast, has no grain, isn’t as smooth as plywood, and looks like what it is: pressed wood fibres.
Strength and durability
MDF is not as hard as plywood and can be damaged easily when roughly handled. It is not as stiff as plywood and can sag with if too much weight is applied to it. For example, when MDF is used for shelving, it is important to reinforce the shelves to prevent sagging. The cross graining of plywood improves dimensional stability by reducing expansion and shrinkage. This makes the strength of the panel consistent in both directions. The odd number of sheets also reduces warping. Cold conditions don’t affect plywood’s strength.
Now you may understand the differences between MDF and Plywood. MDF is better for indoor applications and for decorative purposes like furniture. It is also a better choice for applications that require specific shaping, cutting and drilling, since it does not splinter like plywood. If you are going to use paint, MDF is also a great choice for a smooth effect. For the construction of doors, stairs, ceilings, floors and exterior projects, it’s better to use plywood. Plywood holds up quite well to water exposure. It can also handle heavy loads, so consider it for framing walls or kitchen cabinets. If you have no specific preference and you’re just thinking about cost, then MDF is the winning choice. But if durability or strength is what you’re after, plywood wins hands-down. If you are looking for a better MDF and plywood cutting service in London, then the best option to look out for would be cut and edge.