Author Topic: MDF or Plywood  (Read 2710 times)

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Offline Ross Davis

  • Posts: 22
MDF or Plywood
« on: March 02, 2019, 12:33 PM »
Hi -

So many projects seem to be made of out MDF or melamine anymore.  Is this mostly a function of cost and availability? 

I have my doubts about MDF's long term durability when compared to plywood - especially Baltic Birch. 

What the preferred material for say a Chaos wall that will be in place for 10+ years?

All input is welcome...


« Last Edit: March 02, 2019, 12:36 PM by Ross Davis »

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Offline threesixright

  • Posts: 487
Re: MDF or Plywood
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2019, 01:24 PM »
I think MDF is messy, lots of fine dust and its heavy.

Of course it depends on the project.

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Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4727
Re: MDF or Plywood
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2019, 01:35 PM »
If you need flat, use mdf. I made a cabinet designed so that it looks like a long panel of cherry. It’s really a series of 8 flat cherry veneered mdf doors set just 1/16” apart (edges back beveled slightly for swing clearance). It’s been in service about 25 years and still looks as intended.

If flat isn’t that important, if you’re going to move it around and bang the corners and edges, use ply. And yes, Baltic birch is tougher than ordinary ply.

Offline jobsworth

  • Posts: 6152
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Re: MDF or Plywood
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2019, 12:04 PM »
I think you could use MDF, but Id get the Moisture Resistant (MRMDF). But even then on top of what the others said, if you put it where it can get wet it will disintegrate. You'll need to seal it with paint, poly etc. Even then it will chip so ya gotta keep a eye on it to seal the chips so moisture won't ruin it.

Its also very heavy I know  need help moving it around. You'll also have to use confirmat or other type of MDF screws. Dominos will work if you have one.

Plywood OTOH will cost more, hold screws better, will hold up better in a moist environment and is lighter. But as I said it will cost more. Depending on what you want you can find the import ply that will work for garage cabinets etc, the veneer is thin and will sand through and peel sometimes. But you can paint/ spray and it will work ok. heres a photo of some of the import ply, that I just sprayed with GF plack Poly. Sprayed ya cant tell the different between the import and domestic ply.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2019, 12:11 PM by jobsworth »

Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 295
Re: MDF or Plywood
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2019, 02:40 PM »
It depends on the project.  25 years ago I made some plastic laminate countertop.  Two sheets of MDF glued together and the plastic laminate contact cement glued on top.  Then maple edges biscuit on.  I would guess it is still in service today.  Sealed from water.  Heavy, stout, strong.  I have several of those cheapish white MDF, or particle board, shelves in my living room.  The shelves are MDF or particle board.  The shelves carrying some weight from books are slightly bowing.  So unsupported 3/4" thick MDF is not too strong.  But they look OK and were cheap.  So....  Always use the right material.  Think about this.  Granite.  Its a beloved rock.  Granite countertops are fabulous.  Mt. Rushmore is granite.  But you don't want your gravel road made from granite.  It would likely destroy your tires and car very quickly.  Soft, but dusty, limestone is the best material for gravel roads.  Cheap, easy to mine and work with by the road dept., plentiful, and doesn't harm the vehicles.  There is a right material for everything.

Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 2298
Re: MDF or Plywood
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2019, 02:57 PM »
I acknowledge MDF as a fixture in our lives and as a template material and all it’s other uses...
But I still hate the stuff.... [wink]

I love Baltic Birch, but I think MDO is more stable, less prone to warping compared to the Baltic Birch I end up with, and it’s way more water resistant than MDF. MDO is also lighter than MDF from my experience, which when working by yourself is always a plus.
Not as many Sanders as PA Floor guy.....

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4727
Re: MDF or Plywood
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2019, 03:17 PM »
Yes! MDO is great stuff. Exterior grade plywood core sandwiched between layers of smooth, easily painted, moisture resistant mdf. I wish it was easier to buy.