If you’re unsure whether to buy MDF or plywood, you may wonder how they differ. While both wood products are relatively inexpensive, the price difference between the two materials depends on the grade you choose.
Higher-grade MDF offers a more aesthetically pleasing surface and displays the natural hardwood grain. Lower-grade plywood is a cheaper alternative for subflooring and construction work.
Both wood products are priced according to their thickness.
- Plywood consists of multiple layers of wood veneers bonded together; MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is made of wood fibers compressed with resin.
- Plywood has better water resistance and strength; MDF offers a smoother surface and consistent density.
- Plywood suits structural applications; MDF works well for furniture, cabinetry, and decorative projects.
Plywood vs MDF Boards
Plywood is made from layers of thin sheets of wood veneer glued together, while MDF is made from wood fibres mixed with resin and compressed under high pressure. Plywood is generally more robust and water-resistant than MDF, but MDF is more affordable and has a smoother surface.
Plywood is made by binding veneer wood sheets together into one solid piece. The layers make it difficult to cut accurately and can often split when inserted into furniture. It is protected against water damage by a veneer sealant.
It is also a suitable substrate for melamine, a high-quality synthetic finish. It comes primed and without twists.
MDF Boards are made of tiny wood fibres. They are easier to create designs from as compared to plywood.
MDF Boards have more strength and are denser as well. The disadvantage of MDF Boards is that they can soak up the liquid.
|Parameters of Comparison||Plywood||MDF Boards|
|What are they?||A fiberboard engineering wood made of tiny wood fibers.||Plywood has more power.|
|Cost||Plywood is more costly as compared to MDF Boards.||MDF Boards are less expensive as compared to plywood.|
|Strength||Plywood has more strength.||MDF Boards have less strength as compared to Plywood.|
|Durability||Plywood is more durable.||MDF Board is less durable.|
|Where to use?||Cabinets, floors, doors, etc.||Roofing, interior or exterior walls, etc.|
What is Plywood?
Plywood is a common building material for construction, furniture, and more. It is made with various layers of veneer wood sheets.
These sheets are bonded together to make one sheet of plywood. This allows for boards to be a proper depth and makes them stronger.
You can use different sizes according to the requirement. Plywood is not recyclable, unlike wood.
There are many types of plywood, and you should choose the style that best suits your needs. This versatile material has several layers, so it is durable and has enough strength.
Low-grade plywood is mainly used for flooring, while high-grade plywood is used for shelves, cabinets, desks, drawers, etc.
There are two types of plywood. High-strength plywood is made from hardwood trees, like oaks and maples. Marine plywood is made from durable veneers and is a better choice for damp environments.
No matter what type of plywood you choose, the material can be cut and worked on efficiently. Some varieties of plywood are better suited for decorative purposes.
Plywood is less susceptible to damage though it can be hard to cut designs through it. Indeed, it is strong enough to hold the screws tight.
What are MDF Boards?
MDF Boards are made from wood fibres bonded together using a synthetic resin. These boards are then compressed to a uniform thickness.
This gives them a durable finish and consistent durability. The boards can easily be cut and shaped to your specifications.
MDF is not water-resistant, so you might want to use a water-resistant sealant or a better-quality paint.
MDF boards are made from a unique adhesive that can irritate the skin, eyes, and nose. It also doesn’t hold screws very well and lacks wood grain.
Plus, these boards contain VOCs and are considered dangerous for your health. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying them for your home or business; it’s vital to understand what they are.
If you’re a DIY-er, you may wonder how to paint or stain MDF boards. While some people may consider sanding them to improve the appearance of their flat-pack units, the truth is that MDF can be damaged with the wrong approach.
Unlike solid wood, the external surface of MDF is the same as the core. If you sand the MDF, you’ll expose the fibre-waxed heart, damaging the integrity of the board. In this case, you’ll have to be very careful while sanding, as this could compromise the overall strength of the board.
Main Differences Between Plywood and MDF Boards
- In plywood, you can see wood grains or knots. MDF boards are made up of tiny wood fibres, the knots or wood rains are invisible.
- Plywood is difficult to work on. It is hard to make designs with it. MDF is comparatively easy to work with
- Generally, plywood is more expensive than MDF Boards.
- Plywood has more strength as compared to MDF Boards.
- Plywood does not soak water, while MDF soaks liquids and swells.
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.