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Kitchen Cabinets & Flooring



MDF vs. Plywood Cabinetry

Posted by xtian984 on April 6, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Kitchen cabinets are not an inexpensive investment and they seem to take the abuse from everyone in the world. Someone is mad – they slam the kitchen cabinet doors, we all set things down on top of the kitchen cabinets right? Quality kitchen cabinetry seems to pick up the dust and dirt which ca be wiped off and the kitchen cabinets once again look brand new.

When we think of MDF vs plywood cabinetry, keep in mind how each of these materials will affect the strength and appearance of your cabinets so that you can choose the kitchen cabinetry that is right for you.

Medium density fiberboard and plywood are among the most common types of sheet wood used for kitchen cabinets. MDF consists of very fine wood fibers and glue joined together under pressure to form a strong bond. Plywood is made from layers of wood veneer and glue. In the case of plywood, each layer is oriented perpendicular to the previous layer for added strength and stability.

To me, it is common sense reasoning that cabinets constructed from plywood are a higher quality than those manufactured with MDF. Both plywood and MDF offer tremendous strength for your kitchen cabinets, but plywood features greater stability and better resistance to moisture. It is common knowledge that MDF is more susceptible to moisture-related damage, including swelling and delamination.

MDF does offer a smoother surface than plywood – if you want painted cabinets, choose MDF. Plywood generally won’t look as smooth or polished when painted, and is best used with a veneer finish rather than using paint or stains.

Most standard sheet wood products emit formaldehyde and other fumes due to the adhesives used during manufacturing. These same fumes can contribute to respiratory irritation and illness and they release gas into the home over time. Unfortunately, MDF emits the greatest amount of formaldehyde gas.

At this time, Consumer Reports recommends choosing plywood for cabinet boxes, drawers and doors. While MDF is acceptable for shelves and cabinet boxes, MDF mounting strips should be avoided because they don’t offer the same strength and support as plywood.

I would suggest looking for combined core plywood in order to enjoy the best features of plywood and MDF. If you go with a combined core plywood, you will get the core made of layered woodpiles for strength, with layers and MDF on the surface for optimal smoothness.




Categories: kitchen cabinets