Wood is something of an old faithful when it comes to construction. It’s always been there, it’s versatile and it can look simply gorgeous when finished.
However, in recent years, the engineered wood composite MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) has gained hugely in popularity thanks to the fact that it’s cheap, sturdy and suitable for most tasks.
Part of the reason for the popularity of MDF, is that it is available in larger sizes, making it far more practical for larger jobs. Where in the past you may have used several pieces of wood to construct one panel, there is more than likely a sheet of MDF available in the size you require, eliminating the need to join pieces of wood together which may then crack on the joints if the wood expands.
There is also no visible grain on the surface of MDF. While many people like the look of wood grain for others the fact that it bleeds through any paint or stain job.
It is also far more stable than wood in extreme conditions. While wood is a beautiful product, it doesn’t cope well with changes in heat or humidity. It contracts both horizontally and vertically when exposed to these and can end up warped.
Unless you can control these factors, when it comes to building units for areas where this tends to be an issue – such as bathrooms or kitchens – MDF will outperform wood and is the preferable choice.
Of course, cost is always an issue and MDF is generally far cheaper than a wood alternative. Also, since wood is a natural resource, it is not always as readily available as MDF.
Obviously, taste is always a factor and there are some people who will always insist on the real thing even if MDF is a more practical choice but given its versatility it is no harm to consider it for your project as there is very little it is not suitable for.