In case you didn’t know, MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard. This is an engineered wood product made by breaking down both softwood and hardwood into fibers, which are then mixed with wax and resin, and then pressed with high temperatures to form boards.
Although MDF might not stack up to real wood, the fact of the matter is that it does have many building uses. MDF is used in many industries for a variety of purposes and today we want to figure out what they are.
1. Furniture Making
One of the most common uses of medium-density fiberboard is in the making of lower-end furniture. Yes, we do have to stress the fact that MDF furniture is fairly low-end, as MDF just is not the most durable or most moisture-resistant material out there. When compared to solid wood, MDF furniture is decidedly weak.
With that being said, MDF is a fair bit easier to work with than solid wood. Moreover, MDF also costs a heck of a lot less to produce than solid wood does to chop down and to mill. Simply put, it is far less expensive to make any sort of furniture out of MDF than it is to make it out of solid wood.
This is why many big companies such as IKEA make their furniture using MDF. If you have any IKEA bookshelves or anything else of the sort in your home, chances are that those pieces are made out of MDF. It is cheap, looks decent (and even can be made to look good), is easy to work with, and doesn’t cost much to produce either. All things which make it a prime building material of choice for furniture.
Yes, we are distinguishing cabinets from furniture here because after all, they are two different things. Yet, the bottom line is that kitchen cabinets are most often made out of MDF, or at least incorporate MDF into the build.
For smaller cabinets that don’t need to bear a lot of weight, the shelves may be made out of MDF, although if they’re very large cabinets, the shelves may be made out of solid wood. When it comes to kitchen cabinets, the most common component to be made out of MDF is the door.
Although MDF cannot bear a whole lot of weight, your basic kitchen cabinet does not need to bear all that much. After all, glasses and plates are not all that heavy. Whatever the case may be, if you have cabinets in your kitchen, chances are pretty big that they were made out of MDF.
Although this is not something that is very commonly known, MDF is actually a pretty decent sound dampener. Although MDF is not the number one material used for soundproofing, it is definitely an option to consider, especially due to its low cost.
Medium-density fiberboard does have a fairly good ability to stop sound waves from traveling, and this material does not vibrate much even with a lot of sound.
Therefore, music studios often use MDF in the walls for soundproofing so that the sound does not travel through the walls. On that same note, many speaker casings also use MDF in their builds, as it does not vibrate.
Medium-density fiberboard may also be used in the walls and floors of apartment buildings and offices because it helps to dampen the noise, so tenants do not hear each other through the walls.
Although normal MDF is not particularly fire retardant, there is a special type of fire retardant MDF out there designed to prevent it from combusting. This type of fiberboard contains special chemicals that prevent fire from taking hold.
There are many buildings and structures out there that actually require the use of fire retardant MDF in their construction in order to comply with safety regulations.
Now, with that being said, fire retardant MDF is not 100% fireproof, but it is better than normal MDF. The bottom line is that fire retardant MDF can make the difference between a house or a building going up in flames and the fire department being able to get there in time to put it out.
5. Vapor Barriers and Insulation
MDF is also used in the making of vapor barriers in homes and buildings for the purpose of keeping moisture outside. Now, medium-density fiberboard itself is not water-resistant in any way shape, or form, but it can be specially treated to achieve this purpose.
Moreover, MDF has the ability to be wet for long periods of time and then drying out without shrinking, rotting, or cracking. That said, one does need to be careful when using MDF for this purpose because if it stays wet for too long it can disintegrate.
On that same note, although it’s not the number one insulator in the world, MDF does do a decent job at keeping heat inside. For this reason, MDF is sometimes used in the walls of houses and buildings in order to provide better heat insulation.
MDF that has been treated to be water-resistant may also be used for roofing purposes. Medium-density fiberboard can be used as a backing for shingles, particularly on roofs that have low slopes. It’s not the most common roofing material due to its limited durability, but it is definitely an option that some people go with, particularly due to the cost-effective nature of MDF.
The other somewhat common use of MDF is in flooring. Now, as you may know, MDF doesn’t have the best weight-bearing capabilities, nor is it particularly moisture resistant. However, in some cases, MDF may be used to manufacture tiles that can be used for floors that will not see all that much traffic and won’t get wet. Wood effect laminates are often made out of MDF due to the material’s cost-effective nature.
As you can see, from flooring, roofing, cabinetry, and furniture making, to soundproofing, making vapor barriers, and insulation, MDF does actually have a great many applications. This is an extremely cost-effective and versatile building material that can be used for a wide variety of applications.