What is MDF ?

Medium-density fiberboard is the most versatile building material I know of. Because it’s inexpensive and fairly durable, it’s a good choice for practical projects like shelving and storage cabinets. But MDF is great for decorative projects too. The smooth surface is perfect for painting, and a router leaves crisp profiles with no splintering, burning or tear-out.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve used MDF to build everything from crude shelving in my shop to fancy trim in upscale homes. I’ve even used it for furniture and ornate millwork like the trim board shown in the lead photo. In fact, my own home is entirely trimmed out with MDF moldings made from about 50 sheets of MDF. Yes, I’m a fan of the stuff. This article will cover the most important things I’ve learned about working with MDF—and help you avoid some of the frustrating mistakes I’ve made.

MDF is basically sawdust and glue, fused together under pressure and heat. It varies in color from tan to chocolate brown. Common thicknesses range from 1/4 in. to 1 in., but most home centers carry only 1/2-in. and 3/4-in. Full sheets are oversized by 1 in., so a “4 x 8” sheet is actually 49 x 97 in. A full sheet of 3/4-in. MDF costs about RS2000/pkr (as of 2017). Some home centers also carry MDF boards in various lengths and widths. Working with MDF is no different from working with wood or plywood; you use the same tools to cut and shape it.

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