When to use MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) vs solid wood for all of your home improvement and decor projects.
Are you ready to become a building materials expert?! Or maybe you just want to know what the heck is MDF wood and when to use it vs solid wood.
This is a question I get asked a lot because we are big MDF fans at the Southern Yankee DIY house.
Because it’s amazing & also a lot of times the cheaper option, but not every project is right for it.
Solid wood is cut directly from a tree and does not contain any fillers or adhesives.
It is great for projects you want to stain or if you are going for a natural wood grain look.
My most popular project: DIY craftsman window trim is done with solid pine boards.
We use it a lot in our furniture builds and the majority of outdoor projects.
Plywood is another type of wood that is made up of sheets of wood veneer that are glued together. You can buy different grades depending on your application. This is another option that is cheaper than solid wood
We ripped one sheet of plywood to create a faux shiplap accent wall in our laundry room.
MDF ( Medium Density Fibreboard)
What is MDF material?
It is actually wood! Yep, it is actually made out of the scraps of wood leftover from the production of solid wood and beams.
I like to tell Justin that every time we use MDF for a project I am basically recycling/single handily saving the planet & that is why I have to do the project.
He doesn’t really buy that line but it is kinda true because normally those scraps would be burned. Instead through some miracle magic potion of heat, pressure, & glue wood MDF is made!
Find more info on the production of MDF here
When to Use MDF:
MDF is used for baseboards, trim, and all kinds of home projects!
- Less expenisve than solid wood and plywood
- You can maniplulate the width of the pieces you need easily
- Smooth surface is great for painting
- No knots or imprefections
The first project we ever did with wood MDF is build our office built-in bookcases and bench combo. We were able to do all of this with just 2 MDF boards!
Slowly but surely I have been converting all the closets in our home from wire shelving to custom built-in shelving using MDF board.
Here is Eli’s nursery closet made from 1 piece of MDF board
The built-ins we created for my sisters nursery were slightly more fancy!
We also used MDF for our most recent board and batten bathroom project. It only cost $30 to add skinny board and batten to the entire bathroom. The only thing with using wood MDF in bathrooms is that you need to make sure you seal the pieces and sides really well with an oil based paint. If you don’t the moisture can ruin the boards.
I have used solid wood also for board and batten walls. The wood MDF was cheaper, but I did have to apply oil based paint before I could actually start painting it the color I wanted.
Our linen closet makeover is a combination of plywood and MDF board
Well are you feeling inspired to run to your local hardwood store and grab a sheet of wood MDF? Hopefully this helped you to figure out which type of wood is right for your project!
If you have any questions or want to ask about a specific project leave me a comment below.
Plus follow along with us on Instagram to see what room we will be completely transforming next (psst lot’s of MDF will be involved)!