MDF or Plywood

Both MDF and Plywood are common materials that are used in modern homes cabinetry. The kitchen is the portion of every home that is considered the best area for family gathering and guests to feel comfortable and fill their time with joy. Thus, choosing the best cabinetry system for the place is essential in creating an aesthetic and beautiful kitchen. Though MDF and Plywood can be found a place in the home, they are not interchangeable. Like every other product, these two also come with their advantages and disadvantages. Each material’s properties make them unique for different tastes and applications, and knowing the differences between them will help customers decide the best cabinet type for the house. First, it is good to know the necessary information about each of these materials.


Medium Density Fiberboard, which is also known as MDF, is an engineered wood material. It has become prevalent due to its affordability and versatility. In many cases, this type of material dominates other cabinet materials because it provides an easy workflow. MDF comes without any knots, grain, or warping and its smooth surface allow carpenters to cut the material in an easy and fast procedure. Experts can saw the fabric without leaving splinters, burns, or tear-outs.

MDF material is created from little bits and pieces of woods produced as a byproduct of the industrial milling process. These pieces should be dried in particular conditions, and then they are mixed with wax and resin to make panels. These panels become rigid, with a hard shell after being compressed under high pressure and heat. In the final manufacturing stage, the discussions get exposed to sandblast machines to have a silky smooth finish before entering the cutting phase.

MDF boards are generally available in either ½ inch or ¾ inch thick sheets that come with tan or darker brown colours. Some of the materials may be stamped or marked to indicate a particular characteristic or property. These marks can either have a red colour, which means the product is fire retardant or green, which means that it is resistant to moisture.


Another common engineered wood is plywood, a panel-shaped wood-based material made of several thin layers of piles or veneers glued crosswise along the grain with 90 degrees angle. This structure of the material normalizes some essential properties, such as swelling behaviour and shrinkage. Plywood panels are created from an odd number of veneer sheets. Plywood is available in different qualities, and this depends on the number of veneer layers or the glueing system.

Many professionals appreciate plywood because, It can lend itself to various uses and leading applications: building, furniture manufacturing, construction materials, automotive, interior decoration, and cabinets. They are used both indoors and outdoors of a building. This material’s high strength values can be used in areas where high stability is required. This material allows artisans to make curved shapes more quickly than most standard wood materials available in the market.

Differences Between MDF and Plywood

These two common cabinet materials are almost similar to each other; however, their unique characteristics make them suitable for different applications. Here are the essential differences between MDF and Plywood materials.


The thickness and grade define the cost for most wooden materials. However, in general, the MDF material costs less than plywood. If no other factors are pushing the customer to one material over another, and the bottom line is considered, MDF will be the better choice for kitchen cabinet applications.


Plywood is made of wood strips; thus, its surface has an appearance similar to solid-wood. Higher grades of plywood are quite attractive and smooth with plenty of grains. In contrast, MDF has no grains and is not as smooth as plywood material, and its structure is evident that it contains press wood fibres.


MDF structure makes it considerably denser than plywood. This is not a big issue, but it can be if the application requires lifting, holding, or clamping panels in the projects, such as creating elevated shelves.


MDF is very popular due to its not warping characteristics; however, it tends to sag or split under pressure. Thus, it is crucial to reinforce if building shelves or other weight-bearing furniture needs to be done. Plywood has more flexibility than MDF; therefore, it can be bent to create curves. Additionally, plywood does not expand, warp, or contract under extreme temperature conditions.

Creating Dust During Cutting Process

Due to the fibre structure of MDF, it creates far more dust and sawdust when cut than plywood does. Thus, extra caution about working in a properly ventilated workshop and wearing a protective mask and goggles is necessary.

Convenience in Cutting

Because the MDFs lack grain and its softness, it is effortless to cut, and it will not crack along the edges. It is suitable for creating curves, sharp angles, or ridges. On the other hand, the plywood edges are rough and are not ideal for fancy curves or cuts.

Edge Finish

The thin layers of plywood will create edges. The exposed edges need to be finished with edge banding or moulding. This is not an issue if the material used in cabinets is MDF which does not show layers at the edges.

Paint Finish and Stains

MDF is the perfect material for taking paint finishes due to its smooth surface and lack of grain. Although coating the material with an oil-based primer is considered the best finish for the MDF. It is possible to paint the plywood; however, it is recommended not to apply extra paint due to its solid-wood-like grain and finishes.

Screw Anchoring

MDF is a soft material; thus, it does not take anchor screws very well. Plywood can fit perfectly in projects that involve many screws or nails. However, screwing or nailing into the edges of plywood may create splinters or splits at the edges.

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