MDF is an affordable material that is ideal for constructing furniture. If you are interested in creating some new pieces for your home, MDF may be the perfect composite for the job.
MDF is a low-cost building material. It is durable, easy to use, and resistant to temperature changes, making it ideal for furniture making. However, it cannot tolerate moisture, so you shouldn’t use it in areas prone to dampness. It is used to create cabinets, shelves, wardrobes, trim, and more.
Next, we’ll take a look at what MDF is and why you should use it. We’ll then go over some tips for using MDF and some typical furniture created using this versatile material.
What Is MDF?
MDF stands for Medium-Density Fiberboard. It is an inexpensive product made from sawdust and glue. This handy building material is excellent for building many furniture types, including shelves, cabinets, dressers, and more.
Although cheap, this product is very durable and is easy to work with if you are familiar with carpentry. MDF has a smooth texture that is perfect for applying paints and veneers. It is also relatively dense, making it better at holding screws than other comparable materials, such as particleboards.
Another fantastic thing about MDF is its ability to withstand temperature changes. Compared to other materials, such as hardwood, MDF is more suitable for handling the heat!
This building material comes in various colors, including wood grain tints like European oak, light beech, and walnut. You can also buy it in multiple colors, such as red, green, blue, and yellow.
Tips for Using MDF
Listed below are five tips you should go over before you use MDF.
Buy Half Sheets
DIY Experts for Family Handyman Magazine recommend that you buy half sheets of MDF instead of full sheets to save your back. Full sheets of MDF are typically .75 inch (1.91 cm) thick and weigh approximately 100 lbs (45.4 kg). So, if you carry a few of these boards, the weight can quickly add up.
It’s better to buy either half or quarter sheets instead of full sheets. The reduced load will help you protect your body and will make the building process go more smoothly.
Beware of the Dust
The worst thing about using MDF is all of the fine powder it produces when you cut it or put the router to it. To avoid ingesting any of the boards’ particles, you should wear a high-quality mask and goggles. Taking these extra precautions will help protect you from the dust.
If possible, it’s also a great idea to do as much cutting and routing as you can outside. This way, you won’t have a dust storm inside your house.
If you have to alter MDF inside your workshop, put sheets over any furniture that will be difficult to clean and use a fan to blow the dust out of the doors or windows.
When working with MDF inside your house, it’ll be impossible not to get dust everywhere. To make the cleanup process more manageable, cover your furniture, close the doors, and shut your air vents. Doing this will confine the dust to the room you are working in. Once you’re done, use your vacuum to clean up the fine dust. You’ll need to clean the vacuum’s filter often, as the dust will quickly block it up.
Handle It With Care
The outside layer of MDF is hard and durable. However, its inner layers are relatively soft, making corners and edges vulnerable to damage. Therefore, you’ll need to handle it with care. Make sure you don’t bang it against any hard surfaces!
You’ll also need to be careful not to scratch this smooth material. Any knicks or marks on MDF are highly noticeable. If you do end up damaging the surface, you’ll have to sand them out before priming.
Wetness Is Your Worst Enemy
MDF is not moisture resistant. If it gets even slightly damp, ugly bumps may arise. If it gets really wet, it may swell and become unusable. To avoid this, you’ll need to be careful about where you use MDF in your home.
Please don’t use it on any window sills, baseboards, near sinks or other water sources, or other areas where wetness is anticipated. If you choose to use MDF as a baseboard anywhere in your home, it’s a good idea to add paint to the bottom edge before you put it on the wall, as this will give it some additional protection.
If you want to use MDF in areas that are prone to wetness, such as the bathroom or kitchen, it’s a good idea to invest in moisture-resistant MDF. However, this is a little harder to find and maybe more expensive than the standard product.
Make Sure to Prime Before Painting
You can easily paint MDF if you prime it beforehand. Priming it will allow the paint to adhere to the surface, giving you an amazingly smooth coat. Make sure to get a solvent-based primer, as water-based primers will negatively impact the composite.
After you’ve primed, you’re ready to paint! The best paints to use on MDF are either high-quality acrylic or latex paint. Only use latex paint if you also used a latex primer. Then to top it all off, add a varnish. Putting on this topcoat will help keep the paint bright and chip-free!
Furniture You Can Make With MDF
MDF is incredibly versatile. You can produce a wide variety of furniture with this material at an affordable price. Below we will go over some standard household furniture you can make with MDF.
Functional Shelves for Additional Storage
If you need additional storage space in your laundry room, home office, or closet, MDF is here to help. You can use this material to build durable shelves that can hold decorations, extra supplies, and more. If you plan to put heavy items on your shelves, it may be a good idea to reinforce MDF so that it’ll be able to handle more weight.
To learn how to make shelving for your closet, check out this informative video by Gosforth Handyman. In the clip, he demonstrates how to build an MDF floor-to-ceiling shelving unit with clothes rails:
You can also create a very sturdy kitchen or bathroom cabinets with MDF. This versatile material allows you to add paint, veneer, or finishes to create any look you desire. Make sure to invest in water-resistant MDF if you plan to put these cabinets in areas prone to moisture and wetness.
You can also use MDF to build a wardrobe. While this may sound complicated, the only tools you’ll need are ball-bearing drawer runners, an electric planer, a wood saw, a combination square, and a tape measure.
To learn how to do this in your home, watch this clip by Charlie DIYte. He goes through the entire building process from researching his design to cutting and installing the wardrobe:
Trim for Your Home
MDF is a popular material for trim and molding work. You can create many trim styles, from simple to elegant, depending on the look you are going for. To create a trim, start by cutting the MDF into long strips. Then, shape the edges of the trim with a router.
If you’d like to learn more about the process of creating trim with MDF, check out this video by Paw Paw’s WorkShop. In the video, Paw Paw demonstrates how to cut MDF. He also explains how to use the router on each board to create a tapered edge. Lastly, he illustrates why making your trim is a more effective and budget-friendly option than purchasing it from the store:
MDF is a versatile material that can be used to make a wide variety of furniture. It is durable and easy to use, making it the perfect composite for many woodworking projects. However, it typically isn’t water-resistant, so you’ll have to be careful about putting it in locations where it may get wet.
MDF is often used to make cabinets, shelves, wardrobes, and trim. However, you can also use it to make other types of furniture because it is so versatile!
- Family Handyman: What is MDF? Plus Tips for Using MDF
- Columbia Forest Products: Designer’s Choice: 9 Projects That Feature MDF
- Laver: Sheet Materials: Tips For Using MDF
- YouTube: Gosforth Handyman: How to Make a Fitted Wardrobe out of MDF
- YouTube: Charlie DIYte: How to Make a Fitted Wardrobe out of MDF
- YouTube: Paw Paw’s WorkShop: How to Make Super Cheap Baseboard. WHY PAY MORE??