What is a Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF stands for medium density fiberboard. MDF is an engineered wood product used as a substitute for real wood in a number of furniture and building products. MDF is made by combining hardwood and softwood residuals with wax and resin. High temperature and pressure is then used to form panels which are generally denser than plywood, with similar applications. It is significantly stronger and denser than particle board.

The term is derived from the distinction in densities for fiberboard in the market. Relative to MDF, higher density fiberboard does exist and is called high-density fiberboard, HDF, or hardboard. MDF is essentially a manufactured sheet of wood with lower cost than the majority of hardwoods available. MDF is an environmentally-conscious product since they are made by recycling waste materials from the lumber manufacturing process. Other advantages of MDF are material consistency throughout, which also makes MDF less susceptible to splinters and cracking. However, MDF is typically heavier and lacks the natural ability to repel moisture like many real wood grains. Since MDF does not display a grain, it must be primed and painted to appear like wood. For this reason, it is normally only used in cabinetry products when hidden from sight.