mdf vs solid wood

MDF vs Wood: Why MDF has become so popular for kitchen cabinets

Solid wood is clearly the winner here, right? This is what most people think when it comes to choosing between MDF and Solid Wood

The perception is that wood is seen as this strong and sturdy material while MDF Board is often viewed as a weak and cheap alternative. We’re going to dive deep into the pros and cons particularly for kitchen renovations, and we’ll also share our take on it. Despite popular belief, wood is not always the superior choice; in some situations MDF Board might be the better material.

While buying kitchen cabinets (or any cabinet for that matter) or renovating the kitchen, homeowners often find it perplexing to choose between MDF vs Wood – but we’re here to break it down.

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Photo credit: https://builders-surplus.com/

 

MDF vs Solid Wood

In simple terms, solid wood is essentially the natural lumber while the MDF is categorized as “engineered wood”. Engineered wood is a mixture of redwood, fibers, veneers, resin, and adhesives.

It’s common in older homes that solid wood is primarily used for the construction of cabinets while MDF is used for specific components such as the door center panels. But there is a good reason why the newer homes, and kitchen manufacturers nowadays are choosing MDF now for cabinetry. Let’s break down on why solid woods is an option.

 

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MDF Kitchen Cabinets

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Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Read more…

Kitchen renovation in Stanmore Bay using MDF cabinets

Kitchen renovation in Mangere Bridge using MDF boards that were wrapped and distressed

Why renovators choose solid wood for Kitchen Cabinets

There are many reasons why solid wood is chosen as the primary choice for kitchen cabinets. Here are some of the reasons.

Pros of Solid Wood

  1. Strength and Durability

Solid wood is strong and sturdy, that’s why most clients lean towards choosing this when it comes to renovating. It will last a very long time without any issues however keeping in mind that there are many different types of solid wood (some a lot stronger such as Oak)

  1. Aesthetics

The look and feel of solid wood definitely stands out, the appeal of solid wood is the colors/textures and patterns it comes in. It also comes in many different variations that will give your kitchen an unique look.

  1. Customization

There is ample options for customising wood, there is endless choice of shapes, patterns, and colors you can choose from, and it is custom made to your liking.

  1. Value

If you’re a homeowner looking for better pricing for your property, consider adding elements of solid wood to improve the perceived value.

 

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Photo credit to: jessebridgewater

 

Cons of Solid Wood

Despite having all these advantages over MDF, solid wood is not always the best option, In order words, MDF is often the better choice than solid wood. Here are a few things about solid wood that make it a bad choice.

  1. Moisture Damage

Most solid woods are prone to water and moisture damage, especially in an unfinished state and it is not waterproof, also some high-quality wood and endue moisture for longer. To protect the wood, a waterproof finishing usually has to be applied.

  1. Warping and Cracking

Solid wood will expand and contract with the change in temperature and humidity (particularly with New Zealand’s ever changing climate) which makes them a poor choice for cabinet door panels. Most solid woods are highly prone to warping and cracking in hostile temperature. The cracks remain visible even if the cabinets are painted. With time, wood makers have developed crafting methods and technologies that minimize warping and cracking.

  1. Bug Infestation

Unless you look after it very well, solid woods are highly prone to bug infestation and pest attack. On the other hand, it requires regular maintenance and the right finishing to keep the wood well protected.

Why renovators choose MDF for kitchen cabinets

MDF is short for Medium-Density Fiberboard and it is a type of engineered wood, consisting of thin panels constructed from wood fiber, wax, and resin.

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For our kitchen renovations, It is definitely the most popular (by far) alternative to solid wood with its own share of pros and cons (also more cost effective). It is normally considered a better option to plywood for being denser, stronger and more durable. For these reasons, it has almost as many applications as solid wood.

Many of our clients initially tend to look down on MDF Wood with the perception that it is a “cheaper looking” option to solid wood but as we mentioned in the beginning both solid wood and MDF Wood have their advantages and disadvantages.

Before we talk about the pros and cons of MDF Wood, just so you understand, there are varying types of this engineered wood. MDF boards can also vary in terms of size, density glue type, and moisture content. As a thumb rule, thicker and denser MDF boards tend to be costlier.

MDF Cabinet Doors Pros and Cons

For those renovating their kitchen, looking for a cheaper alternative to solid wood (once they know the price difference in material) always comes up, but without compromising on sturdiness and resistance, It always leads them to MDF as a compelling option. Let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing MDF over other types of engineered woods.

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MDF Cabinet Doors: Pros

  1. Warping and Cracking

MDF, like wood, expands and contracts when there are fluctuations in temperature and humidity. But unlike Wood, MDF does not warp. This is because the board, thanks to its structure, moves as a unit. Even with extreme changes in humidity and temperature, you do not have to worry about any damage to the cabinet doors.

  1. Smooth Finish

MDF doesn’t have any noticeable grains that are usually found in solid woods, or small imperfections. As a result, they have a smoother finish after the paint is applied.

  1. Easy to Customize

There are shaker-style cabinet doors, flat paneled doors, inset doors, raised doors and many more. The ease of customization of MDF boards is to thank for this variety. Because of its structure, MDF Board can be cut and drilled in many different ways without any damage.  Available in larger sizes than solid wood. If you have a project that demands a large piece of wood with no joints, MDF is the recommended choice.

  1. High Water Resistance

When it comes to water resistance, MDF outperforms wood. In fact, some MDF boards are specifically crafted for bath cabinets and they are made water-resistant.

  1. Cost-effective Alternative

The obvious clear winner is MDF is a lot more cost effective and worthwhile (value for money) and with proper maintenance, MDF boards can last as long as some of the solid woods.

Read more…

Kitchen renovation in Massey using MDF cabinets

Kitchen renovation in West Harbour using MDF cabinets

MDF Cabinet Doors: Cons

Despite all the pros, MDF cabinet doors aren’t perfect for certain situations. From being susceptible to water to scratches to heat, so MDF cabinets does require extra care – here are some of the cons to pay attention to.

  1. MDF cabinet doors aren’t ideal for high temperatures
  2. MDF Board does not do very well when exposed to extreme heat as the core materials can get damaged. This is why MDF Board is not a good material for outdoor furniture where it is exposed to the sun continually.
  3. Compared to wood or plywood, MDF is considered less strong but not by much – but it is still a consideration. For example, Once the MDF get scratches, it’s usually difficult to repair it.
  4. Since MDF consists of fine particles, it may not be great for holding screws in some circumstances.
  5. If not sealed properly, MDF can fall prey to water absorption – so the manufacturing process of the MDF (or the brand of it) is important.

Surprising Design Solutions

It’s clear that MDF is the more cost-effective & durable option, there are some surprising and inspiring projects out there in recent years that feature the use of MDF due to it’s flexibility in design, color, and feel. If you want to get creative with your kitchen renovation (as opposed to the wood look), MDF will give you the opportunity to play with all kinds of colors. MDF can even take veneers like leather and vinyl, if you’re looking to play around with texture.

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a favorite with Superior Renovations clients because it gives them solutions for big design details rather then choosing what looks standard – this gives them endless possibilities/options to play with.

What is MDF Board commonly used for?

For most of our renovations, you’ll commonly find MDF being used for kitchen cabinets. Most kitchen cabinets comprise of both solid wood and MDF elements. MDF Board is usually found on the doors and interior panelling for the following reasons:

  • Easier to paint
  • Easier to clean
  • Does not warp
  • Water-resistant

But it is not just the kitchen where you’ll find MDF being used, but we also use it in bathrooms and laundry spaces due to the resistance to moisture/humidity.

Another consideration when you’re deciding materials particularly with MDF is when it is compared to plywood.  This is not necessarily a comparison you would do for kitchen cabinets, but in other construction instances choosing a plywood vs MDF may be a choice you need to consider to bring down costs.

Another area where MDF was used in a renovation is used shelving, whether it’s for a bookshelf, kitchen shelving, lounge tv unit, or open wall shelving – it’s popular choice because of the change of colors/styles you can choose. But be careful if you’re using it to place heavy objects as it will sag so normally it is reinforced with solid wood if that is the case.

 

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Examples of kitchen renovations by Superior Renvations with MDF Cabinets

Read more…

Kitchen renovation in Hillsborough using Black MDF cabinets

Kitchen renovation in Ellerslie using White MDF cabinets 


Our Verdict
:
Is MDF good for kitchen cabinets?

Our opinion is MDF performs better than solid wood in many areas as mentioned above – although the are benefits to choosing solid wood, the advantages of MDF outweigh it … The main concern surrounding solid wood for cabinets, doors and panelling is it requires consistent care and maintenance.

But when it comes to cabinet doors, we highly recommend MDF, It provides far more benefits than solid wood. If you are in the process of giving your kitchen an upgrade, consider choosing cabinets with MDF doors.

Choosing MDF for your cabinets means they are going to be sturdy and durable – it also makes it a lot easier for you to make decisions during the design process because of the larger range of options. MDF (especially doors and shelves) offer smoother finisher and tougher resistance to humid temperatures which we think is particularly important for Auckland homes.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about our kitchens, check out our case studies page or feel free to reach out to us, we’ll be happy to help.

 


Kitchen Renovation Projects by Superior Renovations

1. Cottage Style Kitchen Renovation using MDF boards

This was a special kitchen as it was about incorporating natural elements into the kitchen to reflect our client’s country surroundings. The kitchen was dated and was transformed into a chic country style kitchen complete with treated real wood as bench-tops, butler’s sink, floating shelves and MDF cabinets that were wrapped in Dezignatek Thermoform with a ‘Ronda’ pattern to give them cabinets a vintage look. See Full Case Study Here.

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Full kitchen renovation in Mangere Bridge, Auckland


2. Entertainer’s dream Kitchen and Lounge Renovation

Guru and Neeta from Massey had a closed off kitchen which did not let them enjoy an open plan living. They wanted to renovate to introduce a feel of luxury but also make it an open space which could double as an entertaining space. We used MDF boards to make black cabinets with a matte finish to give it a luxury feel See Full Case Study Here

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Kitchen, Lounge and Dining room renovation in Massey


3. Spanish Style Kitchen and Bathroom Renovation

Mary Stuart’s renovation was especially enjoyable for us as it meant giving the kitchen a rustic look. Rustic kitchens usually incorporate real wood to make cabinets. However, using real wood would have exponentially increased costs and maintenance. So we decided to use MDF Melteca cabinets and gave them a look of Timber  See Full Kitchen Case Study Here.

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Bathroom, Kitchen and Laundry renovation in Stanmore Bay


Further Resources

  1. Ideas for Bathroom renovations in our bathroom renovation gallery of bathrooms we have renovated in Auckland
  2. Ideas for Kitchen renovations in our kitchen renovation gallery for kitchens we have renovated in Auckland
  3. Featured projects and Client stories to see specifications on some of the projects.
  4. Real client stories from Auckland

 

Is MDF good for kitchen cabinets?

When it comes to cabinet doors, we highly recommend MDF, It provides far more benefits than solid wood. If you are in the process of giving your kitchen an upgrade, consider choosing cabinets with MDF doors. Choosing MDF for your cabinets means they are going to be sturdy and durable – it also makes it a lot easier for you to make decisions during the design process because of the larger range of options. MDF (especially doors and shelves) offer smoother finisher and tougher resistance to humid temperatures which we think is particularly important for Auckland homes.

What is MDF Board commonly used for?

For most of our renovations, you’ll commonly find MDF being used for kitchen cabinets. Most kitchen cabinets comprise of both solid wood and MDF elements.

Why renovators choose MDF for kitchen cabinets

For our kitchen renovations, It is definitely the most popular (by far) alternative to solid wood with its own share of pros and cons (also more cost effective). It is normally considered a better option to plywood for being denser, stronger and more durable. For these reasons, it has almost as many applications as solid wood.

 


Still have questions unanswered? schedule a no-obligation consultation with the team at Superior Renovations

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