MDF vs Solid Wood: Dispelling the MDF myth

6 March 2024MDF vs Solid Wood: Dispelling the MDF myth

Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) has understandably built up quite a negative reputation for itself over the years. Many people associate it with low-quality furnishings, viewing solid wood as a much more sturdy and more premium option. This is largely a result of the use of MDF in mass-produced, cheaply-made furniture.

However, more and more joiners and carpenters are advocating for MDF’s use in kitchen cabinetry.

We’ve spoken to our expert carpenters and have put together a definitive case in defence of MDF, dispelling the negative connotations many people still hold, and explaining why MDF should not be ruled out as an excellent choice for use in your kitchen.

Is MDF less durable than solid wood?

Yes and no. As with most materials, you get what you pay for. The MDF used in budget furniture is generally cheap to make and quick to produce because it’s not as dense as higher quality MDF.

MDF is made by breaking hard or soft wood down into small fibres. These fibres are then mixed with wax and resin, before being compressed into boards which can then be cut and worked like wood.

Low quality MDF uses fewer wood fibres in comparison to high quality MDF or HDF (high-density fibreboard). Extremely high quality MDF has a higher wood content and sometimes be more expensive than oak!

At Krantz Designs, if we use MDF, we only use extremely high-quality, high-density fibreboard, which is moisture resistant, meaning we leverage the benefits of MDF while ensuring our kitchen cabinets are built to last and maintain their premium finish. We are confident that incorporating this material into our painted furniture significantly reduces maintenance requirements for our customers years after their new kitchen is installed. This allows us to effectively uphold our product standards and exceed expectations in after-sales service.

Advantages of MDF Cabinet Doors

The debate between MDF and solid wood is ongoing. However, as technology advances, better-quality MDF is entering production lines. Here are several compelling reasons why in our opinion, MDF is the more appropriate choice for your bespoke kitchen.

Sustainability

MDF is an eco-friendly option. The materials used to produce the wood fibres in MDF are generally recycled wood products, such as sawdust and wood shavings. This makes it a great choice for those who are conscious of the sustainability of their home furnishings.

Smooth Finish

MDF is machine-produced, rather than naturally grown. This means it has a flawless finish, free from wood grains or imperfections – the perfect canvas for paint to adhere to. If a client would like a smooth paint finish on their cabinetry, we recommend the use of MDF.

Moisture and Heat Resistance

Temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate dramatically in kitchen spaces. MDF has no cracks or imperfections and, unlike wood, it doesn’t swell or warp when exposed to moisture or heat.

Versatility in Design

MDF’s uniform structure allows for a wide range of design possibilities, making it ideal for contemporary and sleek kitchen styles​​​​. It can be worked and carved in a similar manner to wood, and the only compromise is the lack of wood grain aesthetic.

Large Panel Sizes

MDF sheets can be made into much larger panel sizes than those available for solid wood. Large wood panels inevitably have joint lines, where two pieces of wood have been attached together. Large MDF panels, on the other hand, come as one solid piece.

Advantages of Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

Although MDF is best when it comes to temperature and humidity changes, solid wood cabinet doors still last for decades if treated correctly. And there are some areas in which wood still reigns supreme:

Grained and Textured Finish

MDF provides a smooth surface for paint adhesion, but the grained and textured finish of a wooden kitchen door provides a unique dimension that MDF cannot recreate. For clients who prefer a traditional wood texture for their cupboard doors, we recommend oak or American walnut for an exposed finish, or tulipwood for paint.

Repairs and Sanding

MDF panels can be repainted and retouched easily, but any deep dints and damage are harder to rectify, as MDF doors can’t be sanded down like wood panels can. Fortunately, every Krantz kitchen comes with a warranty and a guarantee, with the option to extend your protection if desired.

The Case for MDF in Luxury Kitchens

In luxury kitchen design, the aesthetic and functional qualities of cabinet doors are paramount. Cabinets are opened and closed thousands of times over a kitchen’s lifetime, so the durability of the materials used is of the upmost importance.

MDF won’t sag, buckle, swell, or warp in the same way that wood occasionally can. Its stability and resistance to humidity fluctuations ensure that cabinets remain in pristine condition for decades. And for painted cupboards, the finish offered by MDF is far more smooth than painted wood.

While we understand the pros and cons of MDF, we also acknowledge the beauty of hardwood finishes. Regardless of the material used for your cabinet doors, our cupboard internals and drawer boxes are all made of lacquered, exposed wood with all our frames constructed from a solid tulip wood – a staple of the Krantz aesthetic and a nod to our traditional approach to kitchen design.

For more information on the material choices we have available, get in touch with a member of the team.

 

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