Difference Between Plywood and MDF Boards

If you’re not sure 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 vs MDF Boards

The main difference between plywood and MDF are in their cost, strength, and durability. Plywood is more expensive than MDF Boards. Although, MDF has more strength. The differences between these two lies in their composition as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Plywood vs MDF Boards

Plywood is made by binding veneer wood sheets together into one solid piece. Though, 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 good substrate for melamine, a high-quality synthetic finish. It comes primed and without twists.

MDF Boards are made of small wood fibers. They are easier to make designs from as compared to plywood.

MDF Boards have more strength and are denser as well. Though, the disadvantage of MDF Boards is that they can soak up the liquid.

Comparison Table Between Plywood and MDF Boards

Parameters of ComparisonPlywoodMDF Boards
What are they?Wood board made up of layered veneer sheets.A fiberboard engineering wood made of small wood fibers.
CostPlywood is more costly as compared to MDF Boards.MDF Boards are less expensive as compared to plywood.
StrengthPlywood has more strength.MDF Boards have less strength as compared to Plywood.
DurabilityPlywood 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 used 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 different types of plywood and you should choose the type that best suits your needs. This versatile material is made up of several layers, so it is durable and has enough strength.

Low-grade plywood is mostly used for the 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 to use, the material can be cut and be worked on with ease. 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 fibers, which are 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 special adhesive that can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and nose. It also doesn’t hold screws very well and lacks wood grain.

Plus, these boards contain VOCs, and they’re also 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 be wondering 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 fiber-waxed core, which will damage 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

  1. In plywood, you can see wood grains or knots. MDF boards are made up of small wood fibers, the knots or wood rains are not visible.
  2. Plywood is difficult to work on. It is hard to make designs with it. MDF is comparatively easy to work with
  3. Generally, plywood is more expensive than MDF Boards.
  4. Plywood has more strength as compared to MDF Boards.
  5. Plywood does not soak water while MDF soaks liquids and swells.
Difference Between Plywood and MDF Boards


There are many similarities between plywood and MDF boards, but some major differences also exist between the two. One of these is the way they are made.

Both are made of wood fibers. However, plywood has more veneers which makes it more durable.

MDF is made from compressed fibers, which are less dense. Both materials are also susceptible to visible holes, so it may be necessary to add bracing to a plywood roof.

Both types of wood are used in furniture making. Both can be used for furniture but MDF boards are better for cabinets, shelves, or other applications.

Both types of wood are porous and will absorb liquids, but they’re different in thickness. Plywood is water-resistant and is durable.

MDF tends to be less expensive and has a smoother surface than its plywood counterpart.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Wqct82LvVB0C&oi=fnd&pg=PR3&dq=plywood&ots=f8Y_PxMnZf&sig=PjM3LrCv4Q9Y08yFJSjuhgJ3fPU
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s00226-003-0206-4.pdf

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