Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood manufactured using wood particles and chippings glued together to create boards. These boards have seen a widespread usage in all kinds of buildings as they are easily available and cheaper than real wood. There are different types of wood classified depending on how they were manufactured, their strength and usage.
Particle boards, as the name suggests, are made of particles bonded together tightly using a resin. All the wood waste in the form of wood chippings and shavings and sawdust from sawmill are fed through wood chipper to create more even sized particles. After the resins are mixed the liquid is poured into a sheet with weight on it to pack the particles and strengthen the board. It is used in making small scale furniture and used for making cupboards.
Fiber board is a high density particle board and manufactured using a similar process as particle board. Fiber boards are usually considered a little more eco-friendly as they can be manufactured using raw materials such as wood chippings as well as organic fiber from sugarcane and even vegetable starch. Fiberboards are used in both commercial and residential areas for its properties of sound proofing.
Laminated boards are a type of hardboards that are manufactured from wood fibers using high heat and by exposing them to high pressures. Some laminated boards are made by gluing together several thin fiber boards and applying high pressure to create strong, hard and stiff hardboards. These boards are denser than particle or fiber board, are very evenly surfaced and are free of knots.
To create the look and feel of real wood the MDF can be veneered using decorative wood patterned sheets. The veneers can be wrapped around curves using high pressure and some stretching techniques to create designs over the surface. However, it can only be used over gradual and simple curves as it can crack and break if the curves are sharp when it dries up.
Usage of MDF Boards
Pros and Cons
As amazing as MDF is, there are both positives and negatives when it comes to using them. Since it’s a fiber pressed board, it is usually more flexible than other types of wood and hence can be used for curved surfaces, will not expand or contract unlike natural wood, less expensive and consistent in strength and properties along the whole surface. The cons, on the other hand, are its flexibility can be problematic when not sealed as it will warp and swell when exposed to too much water, denser than other woods because of heavy resins and will split when you screw along the edges.
Another problem with MDF is that formaldehyde is used in manufacturing the boards, which is a known for increasing health risks and is carcinogenic. However, making sure you paint all the surfaces and corners or use oil to polish and seal off the evaporation of formaldehyde can help. Using phenol-formaldehyde during manufacturing is a much healthier option as it doesn’t emit formaldehyde after curing and curing process can be sped up by controlling temperatures.
MDF boards come in two different varieties – moisture resistant and fire retardant. The moisture resistant boards are typically used wet areas such as bathrooms and the fire retardant are used in kitchen.