MDF is one of the more common materials used to make furniture. However, when most consumers are confronted with this term, they will offer two different reactions, which are both negative. They will either not know what the material is, or when they do, they often write the material off as something substandard. In this article, we will give you more information on what MDF is and the pros and cons of furniture that is produced from this material.
MDF is short for Medium Density Fiberboard
Fibreboard, regardless of its density, is made out of wood fibers. This would be minute pieces of either softwood or hardwood. This is then combined with wax and resin, heated, and then pressed together to arrive at fibreboard.
This is the explanation for fibreboard, but what does medium density mean and what is it relative to?
LDF, which stands for Low-Density Fibreboard, is, in most cases, known as particleboard. The particleboards feature pieces that are even smaller than MDF. Even sawdust is used for making particle boards. This makes this option inexpensive, but at the same time, it makes this product weaker when compared to MDF. The other option includes the HDF- High-Density Fibreboard, which is more commonly known as hardboard. The process of making hardboards involve more pressure and heat that is used when compared to the LDF and MDF boards, yet an adhesive is usually not a requirement. The hardboard is relatively strong, yet is often a more expensive material.
If you are looking for numbers to compare densities of these fibreboards, here is the information you need:
What Is MDF?
The 2 More Common Concerns Surrounding MDF
– Do stores and manufacturers use MDF with a veneer over it and try and sell the pieces as solid wood?
While the MDF furniture pieces with a veneer top layer that simulate solid wood pieces have become increasingly popular, the reason behind this choice is not associated with deception. In the way of using a veneer on top of MDF, manufacturers have found a way to produce furniture that resembles solid wood. A few of these woods happen to be extremely expensive, or they might be environmentally protected or rare, or they might not have the ability to translate into solid and sturdy wood furniture. I wholeheartedly agree that you should know what materials were used to create the piece before you buy it. If you are unsure, ask a knowledgeable salesperson who can answer your questions.
Are Chemicals Present in MDF Poisonous? Can They Contribute to Causing Cancer?
In general, when people are asking these types of questions, they are typically referring to formaldehyde. This is a chemical used when constructing MDF, with studies that have linked formaldehyde to increasing the risks of certain cancers. There are two important considerations to keep in mind here. To begin with, there are stringent government restrictions enforced, that cover the chemical levels uses, especially when it comes to formaldehyde and how much is permitted for use when producing MDF.
The second consideration is that most of the off-gassing of this chemical occurs mainly during the construction of MDF. This means at the time the furniture reaches a showroom floor or your home, notably when it was painted, the off-gassing has mainly been halted. If you are interested in finding out more about formaldehyde along with the potential health-effects, here is a link that will direct you to an Air Quality Guideline document, published by Health Canada on this particular subject.
Below is a list of the benefits and drawbacks of MDF used for making furniture. Since consumers that are thinking about buying MDF furniture are often interested in how it compares or matches up to solid-wood, here is a variety of comparisons:
MDF Furniture Advantages
– MDF is one of the more economical choices. This material is inexpensive, which means you will pay a lot less for these furniture pieces compared to the solid-wood pieces.
– MDF makes use of recycled wood, which helps to save our trees.
– MDF cut to size is an easy thing to find or even get someone to do
– MDF can be painted easily in a variety of colors, while solid wood will not always take every type of color.
– MDF is smooth throughout and is free from knots, which might blemish the surfaces of the overall piece or make it difficult to attach the components.
– Chemicals used to construct MDF cause it to be poisonous for pests like termites.
– MDF does not contract and expand due to humidity and heat, as solid wood does.
– Shaping MDF is a lot easier when compared to solid wood, which offers a way to create more elaborate designs.
– Veneers are easy to attach to MDF offering the appeal of genuine looking wood.
MDF Furniture Disadvantages
– As mentioned before, in the process of construction, MDF might off-gas small levels of formaldehyde. However, this is mainly dissipated when the construction process is complete. MDF that is painted lowers these health risks even further.
– MDF is classified as high maintenance; if it cracks or chips, you are unable to cover or repair the damages as quickly as you would with solid woods.
– Chemicals that are used for making MDF furniture is a less child-friendly option compared to solid wood.
– Exposure to water might cause the MDF materials to swell.