What is MDF?
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, often in a defibrator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming it into panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally more dense than plywood. It is made up of separated fibres, but can be used as a building material similar in application to plywood. It is stronger, and more dense, than particle board.
Comparison with wood
MDF does not contain knots or rings, making it more uniform than natural woods during cutting and in service. However, MDF is not entirely isotropic, since the fibres are pressed tightly together through the sheet. Typical MDF has a hard, flat, smooth surface that makes it ideal for veneering, as there is no underlying grain to telegraph through the thin veneer as with plywood. MDF may be glued, doweled or laminated. Typical fasteners are T-nuts and pan-head machine screws. Smooth-shank nails do not hold well, and neither do fine-pitch screws, especially in the edge. Special screws are available with a coarse thread pitch, but sheet-metal screws also work well. MDF isn’t susceptible to splitting when screws are installed in the face of the material but, due to the alignment of the wood fibres, may split when screws are installed in the edge of the board without pilot holes.
What wood is MDF made of?
MDF is made of material not suitable for planks used in the construction industry.
It uses wood that comes from sawmills, their waste off cuts (residue) that is left over when you shape a log into nice planks, so the outer pieces that are half moon shape, plus any other small bits.
As well as this, wood are used that are too small or generally no good for anything else called thinnings. Thinnings are trees that are plucked out to make way for the straighter and more vigorous trees.
Is MDF sustainable?
MDF is very sustainable and environmentally friendly. Because MDF is constructed primarily from wood fiber, many wood shavings and other portions of the wood that might normally be discarded can instead be recycled into MDF production. This both reduces waste and also means a higher percentage of trees harvested are used to create valuable products, putting less strain on our forests and creating sustainable construction practices for years to come. MDF panels are some of the greenest products available.
MDF panels are carbon sinks, storing enough carbon to offset the carbon footprint from their creation.
Favorable Characteristics of MDF
- Consistent in strength and size
- Shapes well
- Stable dimensions (less expansion and contraction than natural wood)
- Takes paint well
- High screw pull-out strength in the face grain of the material
Is MDF safe?
The main concern regarding the health risks of MDF is the use of urea-formaldehyde adhesives as the bonding agent during the creation of the panels. Most manufacturers already moved away from urea-formaldehyde based adhesives, opting instead for low formaldehyde alternatives.
In addition, all manufacturers are required to prove code compliance for low formaldehyde emission.
It is safe once it is used to construct a finished piece of furniture.
Is MDF eco friendly?
MDF wood (Medium Density Fiberboard) has some pretty surprising sustainable features about it, though on the whole it isn’t yet fully sustainable. If you remove the glue from the equation, especially the formaldehyde, which is nasty, then it would be a very sustainable material.